Cross-country: Mascenic’s Vaillancourt wins Manchester Invitational; ConVal, Conant look good 

  • Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt crosses the finish line in first at the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic, ConVal and Conant all competed in the Manchester Invitational cross-country meet at Derryfield Park on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/22/2019 1:54:10 PM

Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt shrugged off his competition at the start of Saturday’s Manchester Invitational, created separation, and won handily, setting a personal course record and making a statement in the process.

Derryfield Park was in much better shape Saturday than it was for last fall’s monsoon-soaked divisional meet and the ensuing New England Championship mud trenches. Instead, runners kicked up dust on the last 83-degree, sunny day of summer. The heat didn’t slow Vaillancourt a bit, as he cruised in at 16:21 to win the Small Schools Boys’ Varsity race, comprised of runners from Division II- and III-sized schools from New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. 

At Nashua North last week, Vaillancourt was nearly chased down by North senior Joseph Curran down the final stretch, winning by nine-tenths of a second. On Saturday, he’d create enough separation that a chasedown was out of the question. Oyster River senior Miles Carrico was second in 16:36, 15 seconds back of the Mascenic junior, who had to dig deep to set his own pace with no one threatening from behind.

“Today, I had the green light to go, right off the start,” Vaillancourt said. “Last week I had to stay with him for the first two miles. I just went right to the front today, stayed at my pace, and got away from people pretty good.”

Combining the results of the Small Schools race and the following Large Schools competition – essentially the New England Championship field – Vaillancourt’s time would have put him third in New Hampshire and seventh overall. Aidan Puffer of Manchester (Connecticut) won the Large Schools race in 15:32.

Vaillancourt said this was the first summer he truly put in the work required to be an elite cross-country runner, hitting the road for 7-8 miles a day in the offseason, and it’s starting to show.

“I think that really, really helped me to get where I am right now,” Vaillancourt said.

So far this fall, he’s taken first at the Sanborn, Nashua North and now Manchester invitationals, and he’ll be the guy to beat at the head of the pack for Mascenic.

“Now the real goal is to keep him healthy,” said Mascenic head coach Mike Smith, “make sure he doesn’t get injured or anything like that, and get him into Division IIIs as smooth as we possibly can, get through that and then see where he stands in the state in full. He’s obviously one of the top guys, and we’d obviously like him to be the top guy, but there’s five, six, seven other guys as well, and statistics basically say that you’re not going to win it, so you have to fight statistics there.”

Vaillancourt said his goal is to win the Meet of Champions race, fighting off the likes of Keene’s Jake Velazquez, North’s Curran, and Coe-Brown freshman Aidan Cox, New Hampshire’s top runner in the Large Schools race at 16:12.

“It would be really cool,” Vaillancourt said. “I think I’m on a good pace for that right now.”

The Vikings should be in the mix at the end of the season once again, head coach Mike Smith said, with another deep roster. Saturday, the Vikings’ scoring five were Vaillancourt, sophomore Connor Traffie (51st, 18:25), sophomore Jethro Somero (79th, 19:04), senior Zack Allen (80th, 19:07) and freshman Drew Traffie (128th, 19:58). Freshman Ryan O’Shea and junior Josh Movsessian – who raced Saturday for the first time this season – should help bolster the Viking ranks as well. Mascenic finished 12th as a team in the boys’ competition. 

ConVal’s got their biggest team in years despite graduating 12 seniors, and although several of those departed were school-record-holding stars, the Cougars are as competitive as ever as a team this season. Senior Harrison Kim is ConVal’s top runner; Saturday, he took 19th in the boys’ race in 17:29 as the Cougars placed fourth overall and third in Division II – right in line with ConVal’s goals for the season.

“On the boys’ side, they’re going to look to repeat, qualify for the Meet of Champions again,” said head coach Lance Flamino. “That’s their big goal.”

Division II’s top teams, Coe-Brown and Oyster River, are ranked one and two in the state regardless of division. Coe-Brown took first in Saturday’s Large Schools race and Oyster River was first in Small Schools. 

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Flamino said. “We’re not looking to run our absolute best in the middle of the season in the heat.”

Behind Kim, several of ConVal’s experienced runners set course PRs, including Danny Veverka (50th, 18:25) and Tyler Beard (57th, 18:36)

“That was encouraging that they did well,” Flamino said. 

Rounding out ConVal’s scoring five were August Kotula (55th, 18:35) and Haven Deschenes (89th, 19:17).

The Cougars brought 36 racers to Manchester Saturday; early on, assistant coach Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne said they had to request a bigger bus after their first meet, pull old jerseys out of storage, and even considered cutting down the size of their medkit to accommodate more athletes on the ride to meets.

“Overall, it’s a good thing,” Flamino said. “More people have people to train with, and they’re pushing each other.”

ConVal’s girls, returning only two athletes from last season after graduating a pair of college-bound school record-holders, aren’t quite the force they were last season, but they’ve come together as a team and were still the top local finishers in the girls’ race, finishing 23rd overall.

Senior Marina McMahon was first across the line for ConVal, finishing 86th in 23:30. Behind her was Ella Phillips (91st, 23:44), Anna Taylor (129th, 24:53), Reagan Riffle (184th, 27:05), Rosie Crooker (187th, 27:12) and Leah Krason (192nd, 28:00).

The Cougars just edged out Mascenic’s girls, who had a bit of an off day and finished 24th.
Stalwart Quinn Aldrich was the first Viking across, finishing 59th in 22:30. Maya Callahan leapfrogged sister Sophie to finish 106th in 24:16, with Sophie 136th in 25:05. Sydney Bane (179th, 26:41) and Victoria Smith (201st, 28:09) rounded out the Viking five, who have potential to show more than they could on Saturday. 

“We’ve got five weeks to figure that out,” Smith said. “I would definitely expect that they would be in it, top five, make it to the Meet of Champions.”

Conant freshman Kylie Aho had a good showing on her first Derryfield run, finishing 79th in 23:13 and leading the Orioles to a 33rd overall finish. Eva Shirey (124th, 24:46), Lainey Holombo (166th, 26:17), Gianna Sangermano (200th, 28:29) and Sarah Smith (215th, 30:19) were the scoring five for Conant without the services of Alleigh Lapinsky, still out after falling at Tuesday’s home meet.

Conant only fielded two runners in the boys’ race – not enough to earn a scoring place in the team competition, but plenty to make some noise, as Chris Taylor (36th, 18:05) and Matt Bernier (43rd, 18:16) both cracked the top 50 in the 298-entry race. 


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