2023 New England Championship Recap
The 2023 New England Championships wrapped up at the Belfast, ME course on Saturday and runners were greeted with some mud, some chilly temps, some sun and some wind so basically it was true cross country conditions! The runners braved the elements and there were some amazing efforts put out by the 251 girls and 257 boys who completed the New England Championship race. Ruth White continues her New England domination and Steve Hergenrother takes the boys crown after being runner up last year. CVU brings the title back to VT and Ridgefield leads a boys sweep of the podium for Connecticut.
On paper coming into the girls race it looked like a two team battle with a couple of other teams on the outside looking in and that is basically how it played out. CVU and Oyster River really have solidified themselves as the top two teams throughout the season. CVU being ranked regionally and nationally and Oyster River just continuing to improve throughout the season. The two teams were very similar on paper and this race continued to show how close the two teams are. The race between these two broke down into almost three different mini races.
The first mini race was between the CVU duo of Alice Kredell and Estella Laird and the Oyster River duo of Mackenzie Cook and Haley Kavanagh. They were basically in lockstep with each other until the final kilometer when Kredell pulled away from Kavanaugh to finish 10th with an 8 second gap. Laird pulled out a modest 3 second gap on Cook to best her by one spot with the pair finishing in 18th and 19th. Through the top 2 for each team CVU only had a 2 point advantage. The next battle was between the CVU #3 and #4 of Lydia Donahue and Audrey Neilson and their counterparts on Oyster River of Haley Benzanson and Neely Roy. Again through 4k they were basically within 3 seconds of each other. Over the last kilometer though Donahue and Neilson put some distance on the Oyster River duo but it still was only an 8 second gap from Donahue to Bezanson and a 10 second gap from Neilson to Roy. The game changer was at the #5 position where CVU's Charlotte Crum ran probably the best race of her season to finish in 53rd place 19:07 and close out the CVU scoring. She was able to gap the Oyster River #5 of Madelyn Cook by 44 seconds and 39 positions.
CVU beat Oyster River at all five scoring positions and took the crown back to Hinesburg VT. This makes it three decades in a row that CVU has won at least one New England championship but this battle is far from done. CVU and Oyster River should face off again in two weeks at NXR in NY state and each team returns their top six runners next year. This should create some great opportunities for these two teams to continue to push each other to higher and higher levels. This is an example of how your competition can help you to continue to improve and grow as a team if it is used positively.
In third place for the girls was Pinkerton Academy. They were definitely making it interesting for the first half of the race when they had three runners in the top part of the field but they were not able to keep pace with the top two teams during the second half. Pinkerton will be returning 5 of their 7 runners with all five of them being 9th or 10th graders. The future looks like it could be bright for Pinkerton. Glastonbury, the defending champion, finished 4th and used their championship experience to post another top 5 New England finish. They were led by the stellar performance of Brooke Strauss in 3rd place overall. Hanover rounded out the top five and is another team that is bringing back a lot of young talent. Leah Perreard led them in 7th place but five of the top 7 Hanover runners will be returning next season with their top 4 all being 10th graders. There could be a battle brewing in the Granite State between these 3 teams in the future.
In the individual race Leah Perreard(Hanover NH) took the race out fast with Ruth White(Orono ME) mired back in about 30-40th place. No worries everyone! In less than three minutes gone in the race White took over the lead and just continued to increase that lead over the 5 kilometer distance. White has dominated the New England championships throughout her HS career and the only one she didn't win in her 4 year career was cancelled due to the pandemic. Behind White Teanne Ewings(Houlton/GHCA ME) was 2nd for the 3rd time to White on this Belfast course. Ewings was reported to be under the weather so to finish 2nd in this race with this many high level runners in the field is a testament to her ability. The race behind the 2 leaders had the same suspects in the top positions for the majority of the race. Brooke Strauss(Glastonbury CT) was in striking distance for the majority of the race and made her move into 3rd place over the last kilometer. Tess Sherry(Conard CT) was a fixture all race in the top 5 and finished 4th overall and was closely followed, only 11 seconds back, in 9th place by sister Liv Sherry(Conard CT). Rounding out the top 5 was the Connecticut Open champion Katherine Bohlke(Newington CT). Bohlke was a part of the consistent pack of about 5-6 girls who stayed in the top 5 area the majority of the race. Soren Stark-Chessa(ME Coast Waldorf) used a strong kick to move into the 6th position at the line and gradually moving forward throughout the race. Cary Drake(York ME) was in the pack in the top 10 the majority of the race and finished a strong 8th place overall. Alice Kredell(CVU VT) rounded out the top 10 and ran a very smart and solid race. She steadily moved into the top 10 throughout the race to lead the Redhawks to their 7th team title.
Connecticut as a state had the most runners in the top 25 with 9. New Hampshire followed them with 7, Maine 5, RI and VT both had 2. The future looks bright for some competitive girls racing in the future with 16 of the top 20 finishers returning next year for another chance to improve their performances from this season. Good luck to all of the New England planning on running the after season races and hoping there will be New England representation at the National Championships!
Girls Top Ten Teams
Oyster River(NH) 130
New Milford(CT) 300
New Fairfield(CT) 343
Girls Top 25 Individuals - All New England w/speed rating
1 Ruth White 12 Orono 17:12.25 152
2 Teanne Ewings 11 Houlton/GHCA 17:39.00 143 *
3 Brooke Strauss 11 Glastonbury 17:49.72 139
4 Tess Sherry 11 Conard High 17:58.58 136
5 Katherine Bohlke 12 Newington 18:02.21 135
6 Soren Stark-Chessa 10 Maine Coast Wald 18:07.09 134
7 Lea Perreard 10 Hanover HS 18:08.16 133
8 Cary Drake 12 York 18:08.65 133
9 Liv Sherry 11 Conard High 18:09.94 133
10 Alice Kredell 11 CVU 18:13.11 132
11 Haley Kavanagh 11 Oyster River 18:21.30 129
12 Addy Thibodeau 12 Bonny Eagle 18:22.15 129
13 Charlotte Moor 11 New Canaan 18:23.44 128
14 Alexa Ciccone 12 Cheshire 18:23.94 128
15 Samantha Moore 11 Portland 18:29.00 126
16 Eli Cross 9 Exeter 18:29.07 126
17 Madeleine Lane 9 Hopkinton 18:30.95 126
18 Estella Laird 11 CVU 18:31.10 126
19 Mackenzie Cook 11 Oyster River 18:34.19 125
20 Harper Shirley 9 Manchester 18:35.94 124
21 Contessa Silva 12 Pinkerton Acad 18:35.98 124
22 Kelseigh O'Neil 12 Bedford 18:36.55 124
23 Erin VonHousen 12 Chariho Regional 18:36.79 124
24 Anna Omelchenko12 Wilbur Cross 18:41.00 122
Ok....Let's start this with the question that I posed in the boys preview. Can anyone stop a Connecticut sweep? And the answer is.....NOPE!!! Ridgefield climbs from third place last year to the top step of the podium. Ridgefield was followed by Danbury and Xavier to complete the Connecticut podium. This was a race dominated by the boys from Connecticut in both the team and the individual races. No one was even close to the nutmeg state with 4 of the top 6 and 5 of the top 10 teams overall. This clear domination created a race that didn't have a ton of huge story lines after Ridgefield dominated the team field and Steven Hergenrother bided his time to take a dominate individual win to drive the Ridgefield train.
When looking at the team race Ridgefield made it drama free pretty early on in the race. They dominated the team race and made it pretty clear who the best team was on this day. They were led by the intelligent racing of Hergenrother who paced himself through the field to take the lead with about 1 mile to go. That low stick is always helpful but when your team has 3 All New England performance and then their 4th and 5th finishers were 6 and10 seconds off of the top 25 pace then you can see the clear domination. Ridgefield's top 5 of Hergenrother, Charles Lovett 10th place, Magnus Manley 18th place, Trevor Fuller 31st place and Sullivan Dunn 39th place all finished before any other teams 2nd runner crossed the finish line. Talk about taking the drama out of a race!
Danbury finished second overall in the boys race and looked like the biggest threat to Ridgefield coming into this race. Devon Rosemark led Danbury in 19th place 16:03 and the team had a tidy :44 second spread from 1-5. The problem on this day was that Ridgefield brought their "A" game and were not going to be denied. Danbury fended off a strong challenge from Xavier who rounded out the Connecticut podium. Xavier had the edge on Danbury through 3 finishers but the Danbury #4 and #5 created the final 19 point difference between the two teams.
The individual race for about 2 miles looked like maybe local knowledge could play a big part in the overall victory with Maddox Jordan(Noble ME) leading the race from the gun but Steven Hergenrother(Ridgefield CT) had been stalking him in a small pack just behind him. With about 1 mile to go Hergenrother took the lead and never looked back to take the individual victory after finishing runner up in 2022. His 15 second gap was over Isaac Mahler who, like Hergenrother, had spent the majority of the race in the small pack behind Jordan and moved his way up to 2nd place by the line. Another member of the pack that was stalking Jordan was Griffin Mandirola(Suffield CT) who made his way into 3rd by the 2 mile mark and held that position to the line. That closed out the CT sweep of the top 3 spots in the individual race to go along with their top 3 sweep in the team race.
One of the biggest surprises in the individual race would have to be the 4th place finish of Sullivan Sturtz(Keene NH) who came into the race looking like he would finish somewhere from 15-20 overall but he was in the top pack the entire race and fought hard to the line to nip Jack Mattingly(E.O. Smith CT) for the 4th place finish. Mattingly was 10th at the 2 mile mark but used a strong last mile to move himself into the final top 5 spot. Maddox Jordan dropped back to 6th place by the line but he drove the race through about 2 miles. It was an impressive effort by Jordan and it was great to see him accept the challenge and try to pull off the upset in his home state. Sam Henderson(Cumberland RI) was another one of the runners who was always present in the top pack of runners and he would end up in 7th place. Soheib Dissa(Newtown CT) who finished a close second to Hergenrother last week at the CT Open finished in 8th place after also tagging along with that strong pack of runners for the entire race. The second surprise of the top 10 would have to be Emmett Johnson(St Johnsbury Academy VT) and his 9th place finish. Johnson was in 15th place at the 2 mile mark but used some of his All New England 1600 speed to move forward in the last mile of the race to secure a top 10 spot for the Green Mountain state. Rounding out the top 10 was Charles Lovett(Ridgefield CT) whose top 10 finish once again helped propel his team to the top of the podium. Lovett looked like around a top 25 finisher on paper and is a great example of why you run the race because paper doesn't determine heart on race day!
Just like in the girls race Connecticut led the way with the most individuals receiving All New England honors. They did so in dominate fashion with Connecticut having 14 of the top 25 spots. Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire all had 3 runners in the top 25 and Rhode Island had 2 individuals in the top 25. Opposite of the girls side the boys are graduating 13 of the top 25 which creates many opportunities for the younger runners in the pack to seek out All New England spots next year. A number of these teams and individuals will also most likely be moving on in a couple of weeks to the after season races and will be looking for one of those elusive spots in the National championships. I want to wish all of the runners who are continuing their seasons the best of luck and this is a wrap to another great New England Championship!
Boys Top Ten Teams
East Lyme(CT) 280
Nashua South(NH) 282
Bishop Hendricken(RI) 297
St Johnsbury(VT) 303
New Milford(CT) 316
Boys Top 25 Individuals - All New England w/speed rating
1 Steven Hergenrother 12 Ridgefield 15:21.87 189 **
2 Isaac Mahler 12 Hall 15:36.30 184
3 Griffin Mandirola 12 Suffield 15:39.33 183
4 Sullivan Sturtz 10 Keene 15:41.39 182
5 Jack Mattingly 12 E.O. Smith 15:41.70 182
6 Maddox Jordan 12 Noble 15:42.08 182
7 Sam Henderson 11 Cumberland 15:44.25 181
8 Soheib Dissa 11 Newtown 15:45.40 181
9 Emmett Johnson 11 St. JAcademy 15:50.43 179
10Charles Lovett 11 Ridgefield 15:52.98 178
11Nathan Blades 12 Portland 15:53.65 178
12Cyrus Hansen 12 U-32 15:53.76 178
13Sean McCauley 11 East Lyme 15:55.57 177
14Evan Bureau 11 Bethel 15:56.85 177
15Jacob Redman 12 Bedford 15:57.35 177
16Marshall Vernon 10 La Salle Acad 15:57.57 177
17Colby Bornstein 12 Tolland 15:58.64 176
18Magnus Manley 11 Ridgefield 16:01.01 176
19Devon Rosemark 12 Danbury 16:03.15 175
20Tycen LaBelle 9 Griswold 16:03.24 175
21Jack Ouellette 11 Xavier 16:05.01 174
22Matthew Giardina 11 Bishop Guertin 16:05.73 174
23Porter Hurteau 12 BFA-St Al 16:05.84 174
24Carter Libby 12 Gray New Glouc 16:05.93 174