Mascenic boys capture Division III team title; Conant boys, girls qualify for state meet

  • The Mascenic boys’ cross country team – Drew Traffie, Connor Traffie, Jethro Somero, Dominic Cicchetti, Ryan O’Shea, Logan Lucas and Kelson Whitehouse – won the Division III team title at the NHIAA Division Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday, the eighth overall title for the program and fourth in the last five years. Staff photos by Emari Traffie

  • Emari Traffie Emari Traffie

  • Emari Traffie

  • LEFT: Mascenic junior Drew Traffie (left) battles it out with Jonas Teeter of Portsmouth Christian near the end of Saturday’s Division III race.

  • ABOVE: Runners start to appear at the top of the hill at Derryfield Park in Manchester.

  • Emari Traffie

Published: 11/1/2021 3:22:52 PM

The Mascenic boys cross country team continued its dominance over its Division III counterparts at the NHIAA Division Championships on Saturday, capturing the eighth team title in program history on a rain-soaked Derryfield Park course in Manchester.

The Vikings, led by junior Drew Traffie’s third-place finish, had its top three runners among the first 12 to cross the finish line, scoring 94 points to best runner-up Newfound by 21 points.

“Drew has been running phenomenal all year and to finish third is a fantastic achievement for him,” said Mascenic coach Mike Smith.

The team title gives Mascenic four Division III victories in the last five years after winning three straight championships from 2017 to 2019 – a run that also included a runner-up finish in 2020.

“For the guys, I thought that we should be the best team if I could get five good races out of my guys,” Smith said. “We should be the team to beat for sure.”

Traffie finished the Derryfield Park course in 17 minutes, 30.2 seconds, just 0.6 seconds behind second place finisher Jonas Teeter of Portsmouth Christian. Gilford’s Patrick Gandini captured his second straight individual title in dominating fashion with a time of 16:34.9.

“I wanted to be in the top three and I wanted to be close to 17:30, but with the course conditions I didn’t know if it would be possible,” Traffie said. “It was really wet. There was a lot of soft spots and slippery mud spots.”

Mascenic senior Connor Traffie took 11th overall, posting a time of 17:55.6, finishing less than a second ahead of fellow senior Jethro Somero, who was 12th in 17:56.4. Sophomore Dominic Cicchetti was the fourth Viking to finish, placing 32nd overall in 19:06.7, while junior Ryan O’Shea rounded out the team scoring in 36th with a time of 19:19.3.

Freshman Logan Lucas (52nd, 19:47.5) and Kelson Whitehouse (75th, 20:44.1) also ran for the Vikings.

In addition to the four recent titles, Mascenic also won three straight team championships from 2005 to 2007 and another in 2014.

“Our game plan was just to try to go out and run seven good races on both sides and I feel pretty confident that we came pretty close to that,” Smith said. “I’m pretty happy overall... Overall it was solid and next year – this is the plan all the time to be pushing for the top.”

The Vikings will move on to compete in Meet of Champions on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Mines Falls in Nashua, where they finished ninth a year ago.

The Conant boys will also move on to Saturday’s state meet as a team after finishing fifth overall in Division III. The top five teams and first 20 individual finishers automatically qualify for Meet of Champions. It will be the third straight year the Orioles have competed as a team at Meet of Champions after a pair of third-place Division III finishes in 2019 and 2020.

“When I came four seasons ago, it’s only been three years, but four seasons ago we instituted a culture of excellence, expectation of loyalty and work ethic and camaraderie that didn’t previously exist and I think they just continue to step up for each other,” said Conant coach Bill Edson. “Because when you come right down to it, it’s about performing for the person next to you and that’s what they’ve learned to do, put all their differences aside and work with each other and that’s the consistency and the culture that has led to this success.”

The Orioles finished with 153 team points, just seven behind Fall Mountain for fourth.

Senior Ethan Vitello was the top finisher for Conant, placing 18th overall in 18:32.2. Fellow senior John Mormando was just over four seconds back of Vitello, finishing in 20th place in 18:36.8.

The senior-laden Orioles were also aided by senior Austin Poikenen’s 34th-place finish (19:14.2) and senior John Oakes in 38th (19:21.9). Freshman Nathan Alajajian capped off the Conant scoring in 46th (19:36.6). Austen Richard (98th, 21:44.4) and Jon Ciglar (116th, 22:26.3) also ran for Conant.

The Oriole girls team continued its steady progression by finally qualifying for Meet of Champions as a team, finishing third overall with 127 points. Hopkinton won the team championship in dominating fashion, placing all five of its scoring runners in the top 15 to finish with a score of 40, followed by Monadnock in second with 101 points. Portsmouth Christian junior Brianna Malone won the individual title with a time of 19:22.5.

“We are happy in regards to the fact that it’s the first time in, I believe, in our school’s history that both teams made, as a team, the MOC, and our girls also finished I believe the highest in 30 years,” said Conant assistant coach Chris Bernier. “They worked really hard. It was a close fight. We were hoping for second with the girls, but you know what, they went out there and gave it their all and we’re pretty happy with that.”

Conant was led by junior Kylie Aho, who finished 13th overall in 21:54.4. From there it was the youthful push that guided the Orioles. Sophomore Amarah Lapinsky and freshman Amber Gnoza, took 18th and 19th, with times of 22:15.6 and 22:18.7, respectively.

Freshman Bella Nero was 36th in 23:29.5, while classmate Neve Mormando finished off the Conant scoring in 41st, 23:55.

Sophomore Ellie Cassidy (54th, 24:28.1) and junior Lainey Holombo (71st, 25:19.9) also competed for the Conant girls.

The historical significance of both the Conant boys and girls teams qualifying to Meet of Champions can’t be overlooked.

“We had the goal at the beginning of the year for both teams to make MOCs, because that’s a benchmark that has never been reached at Conant High School ever in the history of the program,” Edson said. “We met that goal, girls got third today, their best finish in 30 years, and the boys got fifth which is also solid, because that puts them in MOCs three years in a row and there’s never been a Conant team to go to MOCs three years in a row. So we feel we are on the right trajectory. I’m very proud of them – very pleased. It was key that our No. 5 runners had really good races and that was the linchpin to their success today.”

The Mascenic girls finished just seven points out of an automatic qualifying spot for Meet of Champions, taking seventh overall with 169 points.

“I thought the girls had a shot at top three to five really, somewhere in there, and finishing seventh is disheartening,” Smith said. “I know the girls wanted a little bit better than that, but I can’t really complain they ran well and we just got beat by teams that ran better than us.”

The Vikings were led by sophomore Skye Lambert in 11th place with a time of 21:11.2. Lambert’s finish allows her to move on to Meet of Champions to compete as an individual.

“Skye Lambert had a phenomenal race,” Smith said. “I saw her with 1,000 meters to go and I told her she looked fantastic and she gave me the ‘hang loose’ sign so I knew that she was having a great race.”

Mascenic sophomore Gracie German was 34th in 23:24.7, less than a second ahead of junior Brielle Shippee, who was 35th in 23:25.5. Sophomore Emma Schaumloffel placed 39th, 23:50.4, followed by senior Victoria Smith (52nd, 24:26.2), sophomore Amelia Smith (55th, 24:29.3) and senior Maya Callahan (59th, 24:46.6).

Division II

The ConVal boys finished ninth overall in DII with 260 points, while the girls were 13th with 351. Coe-Brown won the boys title, while Oyster River captured the girls crown.

Senior Allison Bull was the lone ConVal runner to earn an automatic qualifying spot for Meet of Champions after finishing 20th overall in the girls race in 21:16.3. The top 25 individual runners and six team qualify.

ConVal senior Ian Post narrowly missed moving on to the state meet, finishing one spot and 1.5 seconds out of the top 25 in 26th overall in 17:48.9.

After Post, senior Tyler Beard finished 31st in a time of 17:57.4. Rounding out the scoring for the ConVal boys were seniors Thomas Sennett (64th, 19:19.7), Jaimini Viles (66th, 19:22.9) and Avery Pope (73rd, 19:40.3).

Senior Ella Phillips finished 80th with a time of 24:42.4 to take second for the Cougars, while senior Eva Calcutt was 83rd (24:55.4). Senior Emma Carpenter (91st, 25:25.9), junior Makenna Proctor (94th, 25:42.4) and senior Leah Krason (98th, 26:21.3) also ran for the Cougars.

Meet of Champions will be held Saturday, Nov. 6, at Mines Falls at Nashua South High School. The girls race begins at 2:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 3:20 p.m.


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