Cross-country: Mascenic, Conant and ConVal race at state championships

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic and Conant girls' cross-country teams raced in the NHIAA Division III championships at Manchester's Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/1/2020 3:59:26 PM

Neither Mascenic or Conant got the storybook ending they were hoping for at Saturday’s Division III cross-country championships, but the Orioles and Vikings will both send their boys’ teams on to next weekend’s Meet of Champions.

Coach Mike Smith and Mascenic were looking for their fourth straight boys’ team championship as well as a second straight individual win for senior Landen Vaillancourt. Neither came to fruition. 

Vaillancourt came out hot, trailing Gilford sophomore Patrick Gandini – who’d finished second last year – slightly after their first loop. The two disappeared into the woods, and when they emerged, it was Gandini way ahead on his way to a victory in 16:06. Vaillancourt came over the line second, in 16:45, and collapsed to the ground battling a cramp that dug in higher and harder in his diaphragm than he’d previously experienced.

“What we saw out of Landen was abnormal and hopefully next week we can rectify that,” Smith said, calling it an “out of the blue” condition. 

A pair of Monadnock seniors, Tyler Hebert and Harry Ryan, came in next to start the green wave of Husky runners, who finished four in the top 10 and won the day.

“I had them as the team to beat, and they proved that to be the case,” Smith said. 

Conant’s Ethan Vitello was the first Oriole across the line, finishing fifth in 17:09 before heading another 100 yards up the hill to the Trinity soccer field along with teammates Austin Poikonen (25th, 18:36) and Alex Cummings (34th, 18:57) for Conant’s playoff game later that evening. The Orioles had their sights set on being the team to dethrone Mascenic or at least finish higher, but with their seniors Ethan Weinhold (20th, 18:17) and Matt Bernier (23rd, 18:28) both finishing a little lower than they’d hoped, they settled for third for the second straight season – a monumental feat in the grand scheme of Conant’s cross-country history. 

“How narrowminded can I be to think third place two years in a row and a trip to the MOCs two years in a row – which I don’t know has ever been done – how can I be displeased with that?” said head coach Bill Edson. “They showed up, they laid it all out there, not everyone’s going to have their best race, and a couple of our guys didn’t – but a couple of our guys did.”

John Mormando (27th, 18:37) and Austin Richard (91st, 21:38) also finished for Conant as their youth movement showed a lot of promise for years to come. 

“Maybe that was a glance to our future a little bit,” Edson said. 

The Conant girls had a strong finish as well, taking seventh place just in front of Monadnock. Kylie Aho (21st, 21:58) and Amarah Lapinsky (24th, 22:05) ran in side by side, followed by Alleigh Lapinsky (37th, 23:09), Lainey Holombo (47th, 23:50), Ellie Cassidy (69th, 26:42), Laurel Bennett (71st, 26:47) and Zoley Pothier (72nd, 26:49). The Orioles will graduate senior captain Eva Shirey and retain the rest of their roster for what should be a competitive team next fall. 

Mascenic senior Quinn Aldrich was the top finisher for the Vikings, but due to the modified structure imposed for this season, neither she nor the rest of the Mascenic girls’ team will continue on to next week’s Meet of Champions. Aldrich finished 12th overall in 21:24, and the girls were fifth as a team. In previous years, the top 25 runners and top five teams would all move on to the MOCs, but this year, only the top four teams and the top five runners who aren’t on  qualifying teams move on, meaning Aldrich and Mascenic missed each by one place. 

Smith said his girls have been “a little snakebit” since their last trip to the MOCs in 2017, but he was still happy with their performance Saturday. 

“I was pretty satisfied,” Smith said. “We were hoping to creep into a Meet of Champions berth, and any other year, we would have.”

Aldrich and fellow senior Sydney Bane are the only two Vikings graduating this school year.  

“I feel good that they one, got their season in, and two, got to show all their hard work on the course today,” Smith said. 

The Vikings’ underclassmen looked strong as well. Freshman Skye Lambert, who’d battled a knee injury all season, took 28th in 22:19; Amelia Smith was 44th in 23:44; Victoria Smith was 51st in 24:09; Emma Schaumloffel was 54th in 24:17 and Maya Callahan was 55th in 24:29. 

Vaillancourt will have the Meet of Champions to make another run at Gandini and the Division I and II runners, and his teammates will be with him after topping all but Monadnock on Saturday. Both Connor (6th, 17:30) and Drew Traffie (10th, 17:57) cracked the top 10, with Jethro Somero (11th, 17:58) just a spot back. Ryan O’Shea (29th, 18:41), Dominic Cichetti (65th, 20:12) and Payton Vaillancourt (113th, 22:46) made up the remainder of the Mascenic runners, second-best in the state. 

While Smith and the boys would have liked to pull off their fourth straight team championship (the Vikings won three straight between 2005-07 and then again from 2017-19), they knew that just being able to have a season and compete at the highest level – let alone take home some hardware – was all they can really ask for.

“We’re just happy to get here, have this opportunity,” Smith said. “Every time you get an opportunity to do something like this, it’s precious. We’re never going to be satisfied with second, but I’m not going to say I’m unhappy. There’s however many teams out there trying to get to the top. The odds are against you in this racket...What would be better than to come back with a bunch of boys who are inspired and a group of girls who know what can be done?”

ConVal in Division II races

The ConVal cross-country team was approved to compete at the last minute, head coach Lance Flamino said, and despite not racing as they traditionally would have throughout the fall, the Cougars still put together a pretty good afternoon at the snow-covered Derryfield course. 

“Having the state championship as your first race is hard enough, but to add in the snow it was just crazy,” Flamino said. 

The boys managed a seventh-place finish, with junior Ian Post the top ConVal finisher at 16th (16:47). It’s tough to compare divisions, especially given that the Division I race in the morning was on a course fully laden with snow which was run off as the day progressed, but ConVal would have been fourth in Division I and third in Division III. But in this year’s stacked Division II, with Aidan Cox and Coe-Brown up top, the Cougars had plenty of competition.

“For us not to anticipate even the possibility of racing at all until less than two weeks before the state meet and show up and give a performance that puts us ahead of more teams in the state is great,” Flamino said.

Senior August Kotula was next in for the Cougars in 35th place (18:03); senior Logan Decker (43rd, 18:23), senior Haven Deschenes (47th, 18:31), junior Tyler Beard (49th, 18:39), senior Wylie Kendall (63rd, 19:12) and junior Elijah White (101st, 20:30) also finished for ConVal. 

The girls’ team came out a little aggressive from the starting gun (actually, a series of starting guns, as the runners left in a series of waves to encourage social distancing) but “managed to hang tough and keep their heads in the race the whole way,” Flamino said, “and walked away with a great effort and great attitudes, which I was incredibly grateful for.”

Ella Phillips (75th, 24:56) was the top finisher for the Cougars, followed by Makenna Proctor (85th, 25:31), Avery Beard (87th, 25:36) and Emma Carpenter (101st, 26:27).

Post qualified for the Meet of Champions but Flamino said he’s unsure at this moment if he will be available to run. 


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