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2020 HS cross country preview: Teams facing questions over the long run

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/1/2020 8:03:45 AM
Modified: 10/1/2020 12:58:36 PM

Cross country is a sport where more participants make things better. The bigger the field of runners, the easier it is to see how your team chalks up against others. 

That won’t be so easy this autumn. 

In New Hampshire, teams will be limited to running against a select few number of schools and won’t be able to run in the famed Manchester Invitational at Derryfield Park. Usually that race comes around the midseason mark and lets runners feel out the same course they’ll run in the state meet. 

And in Vermont, runners don’t know when the state meet is or if there will be one as the state isn’t allowing more than 150 runners at a meet. Still, cross country is one of the few sports in the state that may compete with face masks. 


Coaches: Eric Picconi (9) and Dorcas DenHartog (3).

Last year: Boys placed third at states, 10th at Meet of Champions. Girls placed sixth at states, 13th at MOC.

Leagues: NHIAA Division II, Connecticut Valley Conference.

Returnees: Seniors — Daniel Frost, Riley Roach, Catherine Bregou, Caroline Loescher. Juniors — Spencer May, Luke Holmes, Charlotte Tagupa. Sophomore — Mack Levy.

Newcomers: Senior — Jason Rush, Sonja Peterson. Juniors — Sam Murray, Kirk Garner. Sophomores — M McFetridge, Lauren Eiler, Ann Rightmire, Ella Goodney. Freshmen — Caleb Zuckerman, Lucien Gleiser, Sarah Glueck, Lily Terry. 

Analysis: While the girls squad returns plenty of depth, the boys will have to regroup after graduating seven runners. Co-coach Eric Picconi is excited to work with the handful of newcomers, who he says are eager and hungry to compete. Still, finding Division II competition will be tough this season. 

“The challenge is that we will not be able to face a lot of competition because we are geographically disadvantaged in our division,” Picconi said. “Hanover, Plymouth and Kennett are like northern islands, whereas the remainder of the schools our size are south of Bow. We will face most of those schools for the first time at states, and we will enter the most important competition of the season with no preview of what we are up against. We aim to simulate as much as we can.”


Coach: Michael Finley (3). 

Last year: Boys placed seventh at states, girls finished ninth. 

Leagues:  VPA Division II, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Alex Marshall, Clementine Philip, Zachary Schneider, Bea Wendling, Katie Trombley. Juniors — Kayla Burnham, Bethany Davis. Sophomores — Rylee Burnham, Sophia Ofstad, Anthem Philip, Finn Walther, Cecilia Wendling. 

Newcomers: Senior — Parker Kehoe, Ben Rushton, Finn Sunde. Junior — Sean Lyons, Ethan Michaels. Sophomores — Gavin Farnsworth, Meg Maclaury. Freshmen — Jack Fournier-Stevens, Kendall Hammond, Zachary Johnson, Ada Rose.

Analysis: Coach Michael Finley is confident about what he brings back with both teams, expecting both teams to win SVL championships. “All other season challenges aside, our boys look comfortable bringing home the SVL-B championship for the third year in a row,” he said. “If everyone stays healthy and our programs are allowed to compete, I have high hopes for our team as a whole to run strong and finish first.”


Coach: Kevin Lozeau (7). 

Last year: Boys placed 13th, girls seventh. 

Leagues: NHIAA Division II, Connecticut Valley Conference.

Returnees: Seniors — Chenji Yuan, Avery Kantor. Juniors — Micah Achmoody, Dylan Budner, Ethan Eshbaugh, Sam Shipman, Sofia Amaro, Zoe Chinn, Brianna DeBanico. Sophomores — Diego Luis Dela Cruz, Carlos Kennelly, Griffin Urnezis, Isaac Ager, Carson Jones, Thomas Wolfe, Nicholas Lamontagne, Ella Gessner, Isabella Hastings, Morgan Kantor, Vickie Ni. 

Newcomers: Seniors — Kathryn Brennan, Ayla Pearson, Elizabeth Corbin. Junior — Abbie Baker. Sophomores — Alex Baker, Logan Johns, ​John-Paul Martin, Sam Nichols, Will Sandmann. Freshman — Angelina MacDonald. 

Analysis: While the boys lost top runner Cody Davis to graduation, they return four of the top seven, none of whom are seniors this year. With a large pool of new talent centered around the sophomore class, coach Kevin Lozeau said, Lebanon looks to also develop a solid core of runners in the years to come. Meanwhile, the girls return their three top runners: captains Sofia Amaro, Zoe Chinn, and Bri DeBanico.


Coach: Tom Warner (7).

Last year: Boys took 19th and girls were 14th at states. 

League: NHIAA Division III. 

Returnees: Seniors — Alayna Miller, Dirk Andrew, Gaige Hollis, Gabe Rock. Juniors — Ella Barrett. Sophomores — Elena Trempe, Jack Buffington. 

Newcomers: Junior — Michael Loynds.

Analysis: Mascoma, which had too few runners for team scores at the state meet two years ago, looks to build off of last season’s finishes at the D-III meet. With more depth and experience, the Royals look to take the next step forward. Alayna Miller looks to have a promising season for the girls.



Coach: Emma Forest (2).

Last year: Too few runners for team scores at state meet.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Senior — Quinter Johnson. 

Newcomers: Freshman — Seth Adams. 

Analysis: The Tigers are too few in numbers to compete as a team, but individual runners will be ready to go.


Coach: Cassie Saikin (2). 

Last year: Boys took 18th at states while the girls took 14th at states. 

League: VPA Division III. 

Returnees: Juniors — Nora Fahey, Helina Tores-Dindo, McKenzie Ball, Samuel Corti, Alex Wiedrick. Sophomores — Isabelle Chen, Soraya Moreno, Hayden Palmer, Aidan Morse. 

Analysis: Coach Cassie Saikin was happy with what her runners showed last year and returns a large chunk of the roster this autumn. With growth over the summer, she’s looking for her runners to have a few more top 10 finishes. 



Coach: Eric Reichert (6). 

Last year: Too few runners for team scores at state meet.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Southern Vermont League.

Newcomers: Freshman — Finn O'Donnell, Gabe Fournier, Liam Welsh. 

Analysis: While the Raptors still don’t have enough runners to compete as a team at states, coach Eric Reichert is excited to work with the three freshmen and help them improve over the season. 

“We will build a foundation from these runners,” he said. “We will try to recruit others as we move along but, right now, our runners are seeking personal improvement as the year progresses.”


Coach: Joe Deffner and Emily Silver (18).

Last year: Boys finished runners-up at states. Girls placed third. 

Leagues: VPA Division III, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Senior — Layla Hanissian. Juniors — Tobin Durham, Nathan Neubauer, Liam Patterson, Dan Wolstenholme. Sophomores — Ariana Cooney, Madelyn Durkee, Abby Egner, Jada Rich, Harland Ransom. Freshmen — Mary Bosco, Ben Mattern.

Newcomers: Senior — Jack Hastings. Junior — Ben Acker. Freshmen — Charlize Brown, Annie Hesser, Cecilia Luce, Margaret Smallwood, Shannon O'Donnell, Layne Mullen, Jasper Jones, Finn Liland, Cody Scott. 

Analysis: The Thetford boys will look to rebuild behind the leadership of Tobin Durham after graduating four seniors from last year’s second-place team. Still, coach Joe Deffner is confident in the group of juniors he has and expects them to compete. He’s also look to Layla Hanissian and Madelyn Durkee, who are running partners, to compete with each other in girls races.



White River Valley

Coach: Shannon Palone (1). 

Last year: Did not have team.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Southern Vermont League.

Newcomers: Seniors — Alex Madden, Ryan Smith. Sophomores — Kaziu Young, Danny Smith. Freshman — Anita Miller. 

Analysis: White River Valley didn’t field a team last season, but coach Shannon Palone is excited to have one this season. She’s expecting the Wildcats to improve throughout the year and start to form a running culture at the school.



Coaches: Kabray Rockwood and Kenedi Hall (5).

Last year: Boys placed 13th at states; girls didn’t have enough runners for team score. 

Leagues: VPA Division III, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Sophomores — Liam Attwood, Evan Burke, Skylar Thibodeau. 

Newcomers: Junior — Rachel Horner-Richardson (attends Mid Vermont Christian). 

Analysis: The Yellowjackets welcome MVCS runner Rachel Horner-Richardson, who has shown promise in preseason practice. Despite only having four runners, Windsor is focused on getting each runner better by the day and being ready for whatever competition might come. 

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