×

Cross-country: ConVal girls ninth, Mascenic’s Vaillancourt shines at New England championships

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal and Mascenic competed at the New England Cross-Country Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, November 12, 2018 2:42PM

Their feet may have sunk into the muddy Derryfield track, but local runners rose to the top at the New England Interscholastic cross-country championships on Saturday.

“The mud was up to my ankles in some places,” said Mascenic sophomore Landen Vaillancourt. “It was super bad.”

Vaillancourt had his sights set on a 15th-place finish – a number he and coach Mike Smith both admitted was basically pulled out of thin air – and he nearly got it despite representing one of the smaller schools in the New England meet, which pits the best of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island against one another. After a slower than average start, Vaillancourt sprinted to get back in the mix, and when the pack came around the big maple tree for the second time, he was right up front.

“I found myself near fifth place and I thought ‘This is too hard,’” Vaillancourt said, “so I just kind of let people go ahead of me so I didn’t run out of energy too early in the race.”

He didn’t let too many runners past him, as he’d complete the course in 16:28.1, nearly identical to the divisional meet held in the pouring rain on the same course two weeks ago. That was good for 18th overall, besting all but two other New Hampshire runners – including, for the second straight week, Campbell senior star Jeffrey Allen, considered the best of Division III. Vaillaincourt’s finish earned him All-New England honors.

“He was telling me as we were walking back that he had a stupid race,” said Mascenic coach Mike Smith, “but if a stupid race gets you top-2o as a sophomore at New Englands, then I hope he has a bunch more stupid races...It definitely puts him in an elite class, even by Mascenic’s pretty solid standards.”

Vaillancourt will be the top returning runner in Division III as a junior next year.

“He has an opportunity in front of him that not a lot of kids have,” Smith said.

ConVal senior Evan Coyne was the lone Cougar boy in the race, and even with the course’s muddy conditions,  he was able to shave a second off his time from the DII meet, taking 117th in 17:31. 

“I think it was faster than states,” Coyne said, “just because of the competition. I was in a pack the whole race so there was no point where I was in alone trying to lock into my own pace.”

Coyne was happy with how his senior cross-country season wrapped up.

“My goal at the beginning of the season was to get the boys’ team to go to Meet of Champions and I wanted to make it here on my own, so it was a good season,” Coyne said.

ConVal girls crack top ten

If ever there was a home-field advantage in cross-country, it was evident on Saturday, where those who’d raced in hurricane-like conditions at the divisional meet seemed to have a leg up on the visitors. 

“It was deep and muddy and slippery but it was kind of survival of the fittest,” said ConVal senior Clare Veverka. “The people who let it get in their head, it didn’t help them at all. But I kind of went at this like it was just fun, run hard.”

Veverka and the Cougars ran well enough to claim ninth overall as a team, second in New Hampshire behind DI Pinkerton. 

“They did fantastic,” said ConVal head coach Lance Flamino. “They ran awesome across the board. They exceeded my expectations.”

Senior Rachel Hurley was ConVal’s best on Saturday, taking 11th place in 19:11, 12 seconds faster than her time at the DII meet. Veverka wasn’t far behind, finishing 17th in 19:20.7. Once senior Schuyler Michalak came across the line, 51st in 20:12.6, things looked good for a Cougar top-ten finish – something ConVal literally couldn’t have done even four years ago.

“When Schuyler and Clare were freshmen, we didn’t even have enough girls to place anywhere as a team,” said ConVal coach Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne, who pointed out that the Cougars practiced in all weather conditions throughout this season, rarely canceling practice for rain, which prepared them to run in Derryfield’s late-season mud pit.

Senior Sarah Newell was ConVal’s fourth finisher, coming in 163rd in 21:32. Senior Molly Janoch, who’d willed the Cougars into the Meet of Champions as the fifth ConVal finisher at the DII meet, did not complete the race after experiencing a medical issue. That left junior Marina McMahon, who battled through the mud to finish 208th in 22:24, digging deep down the final stretch to pass several competitors, epitomizing the Cougars’ spirit.

“So resilient, so strong, so powerful, and I’m just so proud to be part of such an awesome team,” Veverka said. “It was one heck of a year for us.”