NH runners stand out at NE cross country championships
CUMBERLAND, Maine - Before the race, the mud was on Alexa Pelletier's mind.
After the start, it was in Elizabeth Conway's teeth.
Both New Hampshire runners battled through the conditions for top-5 finishes at the New England High School Cross Country Championships Saturday at Twin Brooks Recreation Area.
In the team competitions, Coe-Brown of Northwood finished second among 30 girls teams. Souhegan of Amherst placed third among the boys, two points ahead of Bedford.
Conway, a senior from Manchester Central placed fourth in the girls race, with a time of 19:09.01.
"I was really happy with it," Conway said. "I got a really, really bad start. I was in the thick of the pack. It was a mess. All you see is mud. I got it in my mouth.
"It just didn't get me down and I pushed my way to the front."
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Pelletier, a senior from Winnacunnet of Hampton, finished fifth (19:11.53).
"I was nervous before the race because of the mud," Pelletier said. "I just had to get over it."
Pelletier began the race close to the front, and soon made her way to the lead pack.
Elle Purrier of Richford High in Vermont defended her individual championship, wining in a time of 18:42.44, 21 seconds ahead of runner-up Taylor Spillane of Champlain Valley Union of Vermont.
Two other New Hampshire girls finished in the top 25, among 265 runners - freshman Elisabeth Danis of Coe-Brown, 17th (19:47.04), and junior Emma Newton of Hollis/Brookline (22nd, 19:53.23.
Barrington (R.I.) won the girls team race easily with 75 points, Coe-Brown finished with 132 points.
"We were really nervous going in because we've had some illness on the team," Coe-Brown coach Tim Cox said. "We were just looking for a positive result. Second is fine with us."
Danis paced the Black Bears. She was followed by teammates Brooke Laskowsky (20:09.59), Hannah Parker (20:15.58), Katie Scannell (20:40.68), and Meg Scannell (20:48.54).
Bishop Guertin placed finished seventh (281 points), Londonderry eighth (329), Manchester Central ninth (350), Bedford 10th (354) and Hollis/Brookline 17th (454).
In the boys race, Bishop Hendricksen High of Rhode Island won with 85 points, ahead of state rival LaSalle (127).
Souhegan, which edged Bedford for the state championship, squeaked by again for the third-place trophy, with 222 points, to Bedford's 224. Junior Jason Bender paced Souhegan with a 49th-place finish (17:18.71).
"I liked the way they ran," said Souhegan coach Geoff Wilson, whose team also had to conquer the mud. "A couple of them fell, like others in the race, but they kept going and ran tough. I'm proud of them."
Junior Jeremy Brassard led all New Hampshire runners with a 19th place (16:52.77). Sam Daly of Bedford placed 23rd (16:54.61). Henry Wynne of Staples High in Connecticut won in 16:12.86.
Silas Eastman of Chatham finished third in 16:26.09. Eastman is a senior at Fryeburg Academy in Maine
"Jeremy ran a very spirited race," Cox said. "Running as an individual gave him the freedom to go out a little harder. He paid for it a little bit the second half. It was a great experience for him."