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Time to run with NH’s best

McGurk, Fafard and ConVal girls to compete

The best runners from around the state of New Hampshire will be on display at this Saturday’s Meet of Champions in Nashua.

And that includes a few from the Monadnock region.

After last weekend’s divisional meets, the field was narrowed to just a select group male and female runners from the state’s three divisions. The top 30 runners and eight teams from Division I, 25 runners and six teams from Division II and 23 runners and five teams from D-III, as well as next three fastest boys and girls, will all toe the starting lines at Mines Falls on the campus of Nashua South with the right to qualify for the 78th annual New England Cross Country Championships hanging in the balance.

Only the six best teams in the state and top 25 runners from each race will advance to the regional race held at Twin Brook Recreation Center in Cumberland, Maine on Nov. 10.

Just two individuals, Mascenic senior Elizabeth McGurk and sophomore Tim Fafard, and one team, the ConVal girls, will make the trip to Mines Falls.

Fafard, the only local in the boys race, qualified after placing third overall in Saturday’s Division III race at Derryfield Park in Manchester. His time of 16 minutes and 27 seconds trailed the Division III winner, Levi Frye of Fall Mountain, by just 15 seconds. Fafard was seven seconds off the pace of Bow’s Andrew Weckstein, last year’s D-III champion.

It is Fafard’s second straight time qualifying for the state race. In 2011, as a freshman, Fafard finished 10th overall in Division III, but did not run at Meet of Champions.

Heading into Saturday’s race, Fafard’s time from the D-III race ranks him eighth among all qualifiers. His performance would have placed him third overall in Division I and fourth in D-II. During the regular season, Fafard won three races, including a homecoming victory over Weckstein.

McGurk will certainly not need any motivation entering Saturday’s race. The Mascenic senior was quite disappointed with her time at the Division III meet and will likely take out her frustration on the field at Meet of Champions.

She was seventh overall last year and while only one of the six from 2011 defeated McGurk this time around, her time of 20:20 was one of her slowest of the season. But the Mines Falls course fits her running style perfectly. It is flat and fast and she should be able to improve upon her 71st place finish in 20:35 from last year.

After the divisional races, McGurk’s time was tied for 36th in the state. In the regular season, McGurk posted two wins and one came by almost two minutes in her only home race.

For ConVal, it is the first time a girls team has advanced to the state race since 2009. The Cougars were 19th in 2011 and returned juniors Courtney Fisher and Shannon Glidden, but a couple key additions really gave the team a boost for this season.

Junior Sydney Michalak changed fall sports from soccer and junior Rowan Wilson moved into the district from Maine. Senior Ryleigh Lorimer also joined the sport and the three immediately made an impact.

Michalak and Wilson quickly rose to the top of the ConVal depth chart and battled it out for the top spot all year. In Saturday’s Division II race, Wilson edged Michalak by two spots and six seconds as the two were neck and neck with about 100 yards to go. Wilson was 14th in 20:13 and Michalak was 16th. Their times ranked 30th and 35th respectively from all female runners at the divisional meets.

Fisher, who led the Cougars in each race in 2011, placed 35th in 21:20. Lorimer placed fourth on the team and 64th overall in 22:23, while Glidden jumped to 66th in 22:26, almost a minute faster than she ran the Derryfield course last year. Jacqueline Hendrixson and Maggie McKenna also ran for ConVal.

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