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2022 HS cross country preview: Runners going the distance to compete

  • Hanover High cross country coach Eric Picconi chats with former Bears runner Caroline Loescher during an Aug. 25, 2022, practice. Loescher is now a sophomore at Minnesota’s Carleton College, where she competes for the Knights. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — tris wyke

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/1/2022 12:40:24 PM
Modified: 9/1/2022 1:01:23 PM

From the Thetford girls winning a state championship to the Hanover boys advancing to New Englands, 2021 was a welcome return to normalcy for high school cross country in the Upper Valley. This fall should bring just as much excitement, with new coaches at Newport and White River Valley and other small teams like Oxbow and Windsor looking to continue their growth.

HANOVER

Co-Coaches: Eric Picconi (17th season) and Dorcas DenHartog (12th season).

Last year: Boys finished fifth at Meet of Champions and advanced to New England Championships.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Mack Levy, Lauren Eiler. Juniors — Lily Terry, Sarah Glueck, Noah Branchflower, Lucian Gleiser, William Parker, Ayla Wager, Noah Glenney, Michael Jia, Andrew Davis, Hyunseo Yi, Jinseo Yi, George Dominiak, Jack Olmstead. Sophomores — Nicholas Van Citters, Abe Healy, Owen Welch, Rex Gleason, Ryan Faris, Alexander Valentino, Andrew Valentino, Nandeesh Jain.

Newcomers: Seniors — Kate Valentino, Seiji Peterson, Maria Anderson. Juniors — Aiden Powell, Michael Chang, Jesper Rolfs. Sophomores — Heidi Davis, Poppy Collins, Iris Freeman, Linda Zhao, Oliver Greenway, Aryaman Bhaskar, Scott Hirschman, Rui Zhang. Freshmen — Megan Faris, Lea Perrard, Leigh Eggleton, Lila Muirhead, Mary Westrich, Nathaniel Picconi-Eakin, Will Hannaway, Evan Lewandowski, Olivia Liu, Nora Holmes, Safir Mehra, Ben Hourdequin, Gabriel Huyck, Eve McLaughlin, Eliza Des Cognets, Maeve Donegan, Matilda Munroe.

Analysis: The Bears will field an extremely young team this year, but the boys will look to carry over the fire from last year's team that competed at the New England Championships. Eight starters are back for the boys and four for the girls.

"They need to stay healthy, trust in the training and run their best races at the right moment," Picconi said. "They have a lightness in their step and an unburdened, positive attitude that will carry them deep into the season."

HARTFORD

Coach: Fatimah Shabazz (2nd season).

Last year: Boys finished seventh and girls eighth at the state meet.

League: VPA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Rylee Burnham, Gavin Farnsworth, Meg Maclaury, Cecilia Wendling. Junior — Jack Fournier-Stephens. Sophomores — Bennett Moreno, Hugh Wendling, Logan White.

Newcomers: Juniors — Joey Knapp, Evan Simpson, Alexander Smith. Sophomores — Conner Beland, Monet Nowlan. Freshmen — Nathaniel Flockton, Graham Maclaury, Arlo Philip.

Analysis: The Hurricanes may not have as many returners as last year, but the boys will be led by the trio of Farnsworth, Moreno and Fournier-Stephens. Seniors Burnham, Maclaury and Wendling should lead the girls.

"The training is there and both the girls and boys have put in a lot of work in the offseason," Shabazz said. "The work that the team put in on top of the amazing additions to the team this season should put us in a position to move up several spots for states and give us a possible bid for New Englands."

LEBANON

Coach: Kevin Lozeau (9th season).

Last year: Girls finished fifth and boys seventh at the state meet.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Isaac Ager, Birhanu Harriman, Carson Jones, Carlos Kennelly, Nicholas Lamontagne, Sam Nichols, Thomas Wolfe, Ella Gessner, Isabella Hastings, Vickie Ni. Sophomore — Palmer Susco.

Newcomers: Seniors — Diego Luis Dela Cruz, Liza Kourbatski. Junior — Nicholas Engert. Sophomores — Reeve Green, Tomas Kennelly, Doyen Kodiweera, Nicholas Petrucci, Orr Rabkin, Augustin Ramos-Glew, Chip Silver, David Zhou. Freshmen — Alex Boardman, Angelo Goodwin, Alex Wheelock, Annalise Brown, Minji Moeykens, Sarah Smith.

Analysis: The Raider boys, led by possibly the best runner in the state in Harriman, are poised for a breakthrough season, with six other seniors hoping to join him at the state meet. Hastings and Gessner are expected to lead the girls team, which is lacking in depth after a strong finish last year.

MASCOMA

Coach: Tom Warner (9th season).

League: NHIAA Division III.

Last year: Boys finished 11th and girls 12th at the state meet.

Returners: Seniors — Jack Buffington, Elena Trempe. Sophomores — Brayden Cilbreth, Gunner Currier, Steve DeFelice, Trevor Maheu.

Newcomers: Sophomores — Emma Colburn, Troy Loynds.

Analysis: Even with a small roster, the Royals have plenty of returning talent, led by Gunner Currier and Jack Buffington on the boys side. With only two female runners, the boys will be Mascoma's only scoring team.

NEWPORT

Coach: Alexander Stewart (1st season).

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returners: Sophomore — Myah Borcuk. Freshman — Joshua Jordan.

Newcomers: Freshmen — Michael Bohn, Taylor Davis, Bryce Palmer. Eighth graders — Kendall Blood, Tristan Hannum.

Analysis: With a tiny roster, no upperclassmen and their third head coach in as many years, the Tigers have their work cut out for them, but the hope is that the growing middle school program will feed talent to the varsity level in the next few years.

"We're very young, very inexperienced," Stewart said. "But we love to run and have good chemistry. Teamwork is infectious."

OXBOW

Coach: Cassie Saikin (4th season).

Last year: Boys finished 10th at the state meet; girls did not have enough runners to score.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Aidan Morse, Hayden Palmer, Isabelle Chen. Sophomore — Moses Andrews.

Newcomers: Senior — Calde Covey. Junior — Hazel Fleming. Sophomores — Cooper Brunet, Andrew Barrett, Christine Swift. Freshmen — Kevin Page, Casey Wiedrick.

Analysis: The Olympians continue to build their numbers under Saikin. The next step: translating it into higher finishes in a competitive Division III.

"Our program is building and growing," Saikin said. "We have some strong runners returning with a lot of experience and who saw a lot of PRs last year. We also have some strong runners coming into the varsity program. With greater numbers, we will be able to compete and place more in team standings at meets."

THETFORD

Co-Coaches: Joe Deffner and Emily Silver (20th season).

Last year: Girls were state champions; boys finished third at the state meet.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Madelyn Durkee, Charlotte Reimanis, Harland Ransom, Abby Egner. Juniors — Charlize Brown, Annie Hesser, Ben Mattern, Jasper Jones. Sophomores — Ava Hayden, Connor Gaine, Brady Sloop, Oliver Ransom.

Newcomers: Senior — Max Leibon. Junior — Zakhar Sendiuk. Sophomores — Miguel Kutter-Walker, Ramona Spelman, John Marshall. Freshman — Wendell Durham.

Analysis: The consistently strong Panthers could be primed for another banner year. The entire girls team is back after winning their first state title since 1996, and the boys will look to get back on top for the first time since 2018.

"We have a large number of returners and some runners who are race-tested," Deffner said. "If we can keep everyone healthy, we expect to be a competitive team in the Southern Vermont League and at the state meet."

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: David Mattern (1st season).

Last year: Anita Miller finished fifth at the state meet.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Junior — Anita Miller.

Newcomers: Anya Young, Hannah Collins, Madelyn Gibson, Lily Babcock, Bennett Hanson, Lincoln Miller.

Analysis: After just three runners competed for the Wildcats last season, WRV is up to seven this year as track and field coach David Mattern takes over for Shannon Palone. With Miller leading the way, the hope is for both the girls and boys to field a full team at the state meet.

WINDSOR

Coach: Kabray Rockwood (7th season).

Last year: Did not have enough runners to score at the state meet.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Senior — Liam Attwood. Sophomores — Hudson Ranney, Sophia Rockwood.

Newcomers: Seniors — Evan Burke, Audri Pettirossi. Sophomore — Brianna Barton. Freshman — Olivia Martaniuk.

Analysis: Like White River Valley, the Yellowjackets are up from three runners last year to seven this season. Three of the girls also play soccer in the fall, and on the boys side, Attwood and Ranney will lead the way.

WOODSTOCK

Co-Coaches: Martha Perkins and Abbie Castriotta (7th season).

Last year: Boys finished fifth and girls finished sixth at the state meet.

League: VPA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Zed McNaughton, Danny Smith. Juniors — Mac Abrams, Lila Beckwith, Logan Knox. Sophomores — Owen Courcey, Edwin Lynds, James Underwood, Myra McNaughton.

Newcomers: Aidan Reed, Finn Farrell, William Obbard, Joaquin Walker-Jones, Farren Stainton, Izzy Cellini, Ella Stainton, Bethany Thorburn.

Analysis: The Wasps return seven starters on the boys team and four on the girls side. Co-head coach Martha Perkins is excited for sophomore Izzy Cellini and freshman Bethany Thorburn to make an immediate impact.

"Both our boys and girls teams are still relatively young, yet led by some passionate captains who have some truly competitive spirits," Perkins said.

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.


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