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Cross-country: Mascenic boys win second straight title

  • The Mascenic boys cross-country team won its second straight Division III title at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic boys cross-country team won its second straight Division III title at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic boys cross-country team won its second straight Division III title at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic boys cross-country team won its second straight Division III title at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt trails Campbell’s Jeffrey Allen down the stretch at the DIII divisional championship race Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • The Conant boys cross-country team finished 10th at the Division III championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Conant boys cross-country team finished 10th at the Division III championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Conant boys cross-country team finished 10th at the Division III championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic girls cross-country team finished seventh at the Division III Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic girls cross-country team finished seventh at the Division III Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic girls cross-country team finished seventh at the Division III Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic girls cross-country team finished seventh at the Division III Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic girls cross-country team finished seventh at the Division III Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Mascenic girls cross-country team finished seventh at the Division III Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Conant girls cross-country team placed 13th at the Division III Championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Conant girls cross-country team placed 13th at the Division III Championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Conant girls cross-country team placed 13th at the Division III Championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Conant’s Isabella Mormando catches teammate Eva Shirey near the end of Saturday’s Division III championship race. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • The Conant girls cross-country team placed 13th at the Division III Championships on Saturday at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 29, 2018 2:13PM

The talent was there. And so was the experience. All the Mascenic boys’ cross-country team had to do was put in the work and they’d be right op where they wanted to be when the miles counted the most.

Coming off a Division III championship last year, coach Mike Smith knew this squad was capable of a repeat. But it wasn’t going to be easy, especially having lost three of the top seven from last year’s title team. After a disappointing early season fifth place finish at Sanborn, it was apparent there was some necessary improvement that needed to happen – if the Vikings were going to outlast the competition at the divisional meet. So after that tough outing at Sanborn, the boys began to show that dedication. They ran hard at practices and meets, and were peaking at just the right time heading into Saturday’s NHIAA Division III Cross-Country Championship.

“We didn’t come in with as much training as we would have liked as a collective and it showed in our first real competition,” Smith said. “We we went back to the grind stone to make sure we would be in a position to do what we wanted to do.”

With a total of 63 points, the Vikings edged an evenly matched Campbell team by two points to grab its second straight divisional title and advance as a team to Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Mines Falls in Nashua.

“Obviously we wanted to take care of business so we could come back and win,” Smith said. “Once you’ve won, you don’t want to do anything else.”

The conditions were less than ideal for any of the runners. As rain steadily fell throughout the morning, areas of Manchester’s Derryfield Park course became rather muddy and sloppy – especially by the fourth race of the day.

But the Mascenic boys didn’t let a little cold and wet conditions take away from their plan of winning another state title.

Mascenic sophomore Landen Vaillancourt did everything he could to keep pace with Campbell senior Jeffrey Allen. Last year’s Division III champ as it turns out was going to be Vaillancourt’s only competition on Saturday. Vaillancourt jumped out front before Allen passed him going up the ski hill and pushing the pace as the pair emerged for the final section in full view of spectators.

And no matter how much his mind wanted his body to do more, Vaillancourt just couldn’t go any faster. So he had to settle for a second straight runner-up, finishing in 16 minutes and 28.4 seconds, less than five seconds off Allen’s winning time of 16:23.5.

“I could really feel the cold weather at the end. My muscles in my thighs seized up and I wasn’t about to sprint at the end, but overall it was a very good race,” Vaillancourt said. “I physically couldn’t do anything. Mentally I wanted it, but my body wouldn’t let me do it.”

They were both way ahead of third place finisher George Gowdy of Fall Mountain (17:23.9) and Trinity’s Danny Donovan (17:25.9).

“I’d rather have the team victory over the individual,” Vaillancourt said

Mascenic senior Logan Thibault took fifth overall in 17:38.5, improving 19 spots over where he finished last year, shaving more than 30 seconds off his time. Those were the kind of performances the team needed in order to repeat, considering all they had lost from a year ago.

“I was 10 seconds faster at Manchester (Invitational), but that was perfect conditions, so with the conditions today, being the fourth race, I wasn’t upset with my time,” Thibault said.

Add junior Dakota Somero to that list of Mascenic runners who stepped up when his team needed it. Somero, who got hurt a week before the Division III meet last year and couldn’t race, finished 16th in 18:03, followed by freshman Connor Traffie in 19th with a time of 18:06.4. Sophomore Josh Movsessian took 21st overall in 18:10 to round out the scoring. Senior Robert McLain was 32nd (18:44.3) and junior Zack Allen placed 51st (19:23.9).

This is the sixth title for the boys program under Smith.

“Campbell was ready. Their five came up huge today and made us work for it,” Smith said. “The quality in Division III has gotten really, really good, so you can’t sleep on anyone anymore.”

For the Mascenic girls, it was all hands on deck for the state meet. If the Vikings were going to earn a spot at Meet of Champions as a team, every girls was going to have a solid race – after all, there were only five of them.

Smith felt there was an outside chance they could sneak into the top five, but Mascenic was two spots away from qualifying for states, finishing in seventh with 208 points.

“The girls wanted to show they deserved a top five spot,” Smith said. “Overall they ran pretty well.”

So instead, sophomore Quinn Aldrich will be the lone Mascenic representative in the Meet of Champion girls race after finishing 23rd in 22:04.5. The top 25 individuals from each race advance to the state meet. Kearsarge junior Mya Dubie won the individual title in 19:50.2, while Hopkinton took home the team championship.

Junior Sophie Callahan was second for Mascenic in 36th with a time of 23:22.0, followed by freshman and younger sister Maya Callahan in 54th (24:15.7). Freshman Victoria Smith (66th, 24:57.9) and senior Kylie Bane (81st, 26:16.2) also placed.

Conant

First year coach Bill Edson had tempered expectations for the Orioles.

With two relatively young teams, his goal was to not only work toward better results this year than last, but also begin the process of building a strong foundation for the future.

On Saturday, the season came to a close for both Conant teams as neither team or any individual runners advanced to Meet of Champions. But Edson wasn’t about to use the conditions as an excuse.

“This is cross-country. This is what you can expect in the postseason,” he said. “It’s New England and that’s what makes our sport so unique. The conditions are part of the course.”

The boys’ squad finished in 10th place out of 28 teams in Division III, led by sophomore Matt Bernier in 34th overall with a time of 18:47.2. Junior Chris Taylor was 42nd, finishing just a second over 19 minutes. Junior Trevor Pierce (74th, 20:18.7), freshman John Mormando (87th, 20:35.4) and senior Josh Barnwell (126th, 21:58.9) finished out the team scoring.

“The boys are young, and they’ll definitely grow from what they experienced today,” Edson said.

The girls, who had only five runners, placed 13th with 307 points and had quite the exciting finish from its top two racers. Senior Isabella Mormando and sophomore Eva Shirey were battling for the team’s top position after emerging from the woods, but it was the final year runner who finished first for the Orioles, with Mormando in 56th in 24:22.8. Shirey was three spots and three seconds behind in 59th.

“Eva, the last two weeks, has really stepped up a couple notches,” Edson said.

Freshman Alleigh Lapinsky (76th, 25:55.9), junior Bailey Despres (93rd, 26:54.5) and sophomore Sarah Smith (114th, 29:17.3 ) completed the scoring for Conant.

“The girls only had five, but they came together as a team and for them it was about bonding as a team and finishing strong as a team,” Edson said.

The goal is to build off this year and be a much-improved team by this time next year.

“Both teams only have one senior, so there’s room for a lot of growth,” Edson said. “This year was about changing the culture and raising the bar of expectations and work ethic. Mediocrity was not an option this year.”