Close to 3,000 cross-country runners will be competing Saturday in the 39th running of the Manchester Invitational races at Derryfield Park.
"We're going to have 136 schools in our meet Saturday," said Coby Jacobus, head coach at Manchester Central. "This is going to be a talented field. Many outstanding runners are coming because Manchester will be hosting the New England championships on Nov. 9 at Derryfield Park."
The 10 meets listed for Saturday include the girls' freshman race (9 a.m.), boys' freshman race (9:30), girls' junior varsity (10), boys' junior varsity (10:45). girls' small school (11:15), boys' small school (noon), girls' elite (12:30 p.m.), boys' elite (1), girls' large school division (1:30) and boys' large school division at 2 p.m.
Jacobus said an awards ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m.
Locally in the boys' field Jacobus said Bishop Guertin of Nashua, Oyster River of Durham, Merrimack Valley of Penacook, Pinkerton Academy of Derry and Bedford have the talent to place high in the team standings.
"Bishop Guertin won the New England championship last fall and I expect them to be just as good as last season," said Jacobus.
"The girls' teams are wide open. There's so many teams to mention I'd hate to leave a few out. It's that competitive and close this year."
Jacobus believes New Hampshire will field a solid group of runners. The hilly course is 3.1 miles for the varsity and junior varsity races.
On the boys' side, top runners include Joe Settineri of Salem, Damon Kilgore of Londonderry, Abram Gagnon of Central, Justin Trott of Winnacunnet, Tristan Winship of Bedford and Jeremy Brassard of Coe-Brown.
The girls' field is equally formidable with Emma Newton of Hollis/Brookline, Meghan Philpot of Hollis/Brookline, Smita Boesch-Dining of Concord, Katie Scannell of Coe-Brown of Northwood and Emily Harris of Manchester Central.
The boys' course record of 15:17 in 2003 was set by Ben True of Greely, Maine. Erin Sullivan of Mt. Mansfield, Vt., set the girls' course record of 17:42 in 1998.
In each race the top five individuals will determine a team's score. Entries in the races will be limited to seven runners per team.
"I don't anticipate anyone breaking the current course records," said Jacobus. "But each race will be competitive. I wouldn't be surprised if runners from the small school division post some of the best times in the entire meet. There are many outstanding runners in that class."
The boys' and girls' freshman runners will run a 2.1-mile course.