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November 08. 2012 11:50PM

Top cross country runners off to Maine

Fresh off victories at the cross-country state championships, the Coe-Brown of Northwood girls and Souhegan of Amherst boys lead a New Hampshire contingent to Maine for the 78th annual New England Boys' and Girls' Cross-Country Championships on Saturday.

The top six teams and top 25 individuals from each state earned invitations to Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland to run the 3.1-mile course highlighted by rolling hills and a tough up-and-down stretch nicknamed the "pain cave" near the finish. The boys' race starts at 11:30 a.m. The girls' race follows at 12:30 p.m.

The wide, fan-friendly course winds through open fields and woods and provides three locations where spectators can see the competitors. It's not as tough a course to run as Derryfield Park in Manchester, but the final stretch can be a challenge.

"The local kids call it the pain cave, a little dipsy-doo that makes for separation over the last 600 yards," said co-meet director Mike Griffin.

The "cave" consists of a 30-yard dip followed by a 40-yard uphill. "It's a nice challenge," Griffin said.

Coe-Brown dominated all challengers at the Mine Falls course in Nashua last week, placing two freshmen and two sophomores in the top 11, including freshman Elisabeth Danis (fourth). The Bears, Bishop Guertin of Nashua and two-time meet champion Champlain Valley Union, Vt., and Barrington, R.I., are favorites for the team championship.

Winnacunnet of Hampton senior Alexa Pelletier won last week's state championship by 17 seconds. She and top returning New Hampshire runner Elizabeth Conway of Manchester Central will have a tough time keeping up with defending New England champion Elle Purrier of Richford, Vt. In state competition, Purrier finished two minutes ahead of the runner-up in her division and 30 seconds faster than anyone in the state. State champions Emma McMillan of Barrington, R.I., and Briana Lenehan of Norwich, Conn., are also title contenders.

Other New Hampshire teams competing include Hollis/Brookline, Londonderry, Central and Bedford.

Defending boys' champion Bishop Hendricken, R.I., is a heavy favorite to repeat. Souhegan joins Bedford and New Milford, Conn., as top challengers.

Bedford senior Sam Daly placed first among team competitors last week, while Coe-Brown junior Jeremy Brassard was the overall winner. They, along with state champions Trevor Crawley of Cumberland, R.I., Dan Curts of Ellsworth, Maine, Marc Brandmeyer of South Burlington, Vt., and Henry Wynne of Staples, Conn., should contend for individual honors.

Other New Hampshire teams include Londonderry, Merrimack Valley of Penacook, Oyster River of Durham and Pinkerton Academy of Derry.

The last time Cumberland hosted this event was in 2007. The winner that year was Glastonbury, Conn., senior Donald Cabral, who recently competed in the steeplechase at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

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