2023 Upper Valley high school fall sports guide: cross country

Rex Gleason

Rex Gleason

Ava Hayden

Ava Hayden

Annie Hanna

Annie Hanna

Upper Valley athletes and others take off from the starting line in the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Upper Valley athletes and others take off from the starting line in the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 09-11-2023 1:08 PM

HANOVER

Coaches: Eric Picconi (10) and Dorcas DenHartog (10)

Last year: Girls were state champions, placed first in the N.H. Meet of Champions, seventh in the New England Championship and won the CVC Championship. Boys were third at the state meet, seventh at the Meet of Champions and second at the CVC Championships.

League: NHIAA Division II

Returners: Seniors — Lily Terry, Sarah Glueck, Noah Branchflower, Will Parker, Lucian Gleiser, Noah Glenney, Michael Jia, Aiden Powell. Juniors — Nicolas Van Citters, Abe Healey, Rex Gleason, Ryan Faris, Alex Valentino, Andrew Valentino, Nandeesh Jain, Heidi Davis, Penelope Collins, Iris Freeman, Linda Zhao, Oliver Greenway, Aryaman Bhaskar, Harry Hirschman. Sophomores — Megan Faris, Lea Perreard, Leigh, Eggleton, Lila Muirhead, Mary Westrich, Nathaniel Picconi-Eakin, Will Hanaway, Evan Lewandoski, Olivia Liu, Ben Hourdequin, Gabriel Huyck, Matilda Munroe, Eve McLaughlin, Nora Holmes

Newcomers: Seniors — Sydney Sandor, Anna Healey, Skylar Spiro, Eva Simpson, Ayla Wager, Aidan Bradley. Juniors — Isaac Novosad, Willow Clifford, Natalie Wainwright, Anjana Chetan. Sophomores — Ethan Welder, Millie Larrick, Daniel Alexio. Freshmen — Aila Butler, Ari Hirschler, Ben Groves, Aria Deeb, Alice Bell, Donovan Van Citters, Ira Clifford, Will Ketterer, Sage Freeman, Max Brown, Alistair Craib, Rohan Novosad, Allie McBride, Iris Chestnut, Ansh Mishra

Analysis: Another team that is loaded and talented sums up the Bears this season.

“We hope to continue to run strong this season with a bigger roster and tons of positive energy,” Piconni said. “Last year they gave their coach a reason to dye his hair pink. We will see what this season has in store; there are always surprises. We know that we will bring a competitive group to every meet and we look forward to running with other great New Hampshire and Vermont teams If everything goes well, it will be a long, memorable season.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Fatimah Shabazz (3)

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Last year: Boys were SVL champions and ninth at the state meet. Girls were second at the SVL championship and 10th at the state meet.

League: Vermont Division III

Returners: Seniors — Jack Fournier-Stephens, Alex Smith, Joey Knapp. Juniors — Connor Beland, Bennett Moreno, Hugh Wendling. Sophomore — Graham MacLaury.

Newcomers: Junior — Geneva Durgin. Sophomore — Jaxon Dalpra. Freshman — Elliot Brooks.

Analysis: The girls will rely on two newcomers in Durgin and Dalpra, first time cross country runners, as the team begins rebuilding with the loss of three runners to graduation.

Boys return accomplished runners and introduce a talented freshman.

“They have the same hunger as last season and we are looking to improve on our performances from last season,” coach Fatimah Shabazz said. “Moreno will lead the team with Fournier-Stephens. Knapp, Smith, Beland, Wendling and MacLaury battling each week for the top. Freshman Elliott Brooks looks to be in the mix after finishing third for the Hurricanes at the preseason two-miler at Hanover.

LEBANON

Coaches: Kevin Lozeau (10) and Heidi Caldwell (1)

Last Year: Boys finished third at state meet, fourth at the Meet of Champions, and 17th in New England. Girls were 10th at the state meet.

League: NHIAA Division II

Returners: Seniors — Nick Engert. Juniors — Tomas Kennelly, Doyen Kodiweera, Augustin Ramos-Glew, Chip Silver, Palmer Susco, David Zhou. Sophomores — Alex Boardman, Elise Brown, Sarah Smith, Alex Wheelock.

Newcomers: Seniors — Carson Boardman, Olivia Cook, Katherine Herring, Ryle Isuga. Juniors — Marco Getchell, Drew Kantor, Sophia Mladek, Amalia Mladek, Lenny Rey. Sophomore — Annie Hanna. Freshmen — Koen Christie, Jo Griffin, Olivia Hanna, Annabelle Norris, Alistair Smith, Will Wilson

Analysis: The Raider boys lost the core of their team — seven runners — to graduation including Birhanu Harriman who was DII state champion, took second at the Meet of Champions and third at New Englands.

The boys will be led by Nick Engert, who is making the full-time switch to cross country for the first time this year, backed by a strong group of rising juniors in Augustin Ramos-Glew, Doyen Kodiweera, and Chip Silver.

“While this will be a rebuilding year for the boys, the added depth of many newcomers to this young team should result in a solid end of season performance,” Coach Kevin Lozeau said.

The girls graduated Izzy Hastings who qualified for New England and will be rebuilding with only two returners, sophomores Sarah Smith and Elise Brown, who had strong spring track seasons.

“They will be joined by many newcomers, including some upperclassmen switching to cross country for the first time,” Lozeau said. “While the team is very young and lacks experience, early practices show there is massive potential for the girls to improve upon their team results from last year.”

MASCOMA

Coach: Rick Currier (1)

Last Year: Boys placed 11th in the state meet. Girls did not have a team score.

League: NHIAA Division II

Returners: Juniors — Brody Albanese, Brayden Cilbrith, Gunner Currier, Trevor Maheu

Newcomers: Freshmen — Karson Rogers, Carl Russell.

Analysis: The Royals will not field a girls team this year but the boys are looking to improve upon last year’s performances and with no seniors, the team has high hopes for the next two years.

“We’ll be led by Gunner Currier, coming off of a 10th place finish at the NHIAA Division III state meet last season, but he definitely will not be alone,” Mascoma Coach Rick Currier said. “Brody Albanese, Trevor Maheu and Brayden Cilbrith all have the ability to make the climb into the top 50 at this year’s State Meet. Freshmen Karson Rogers and Carl Russell are coming off of sixth and tenth place finishes at last year’s New Hampshire Division 3 Middle School State Meet and will make an immediate impact for our program. We do not have any seniors this year, so this year we’re really focusing on getting stronger as a group and trying to position ourselves for something special next year.”

NEWPORT

Coach: Alexander Stewart (2)

Last year: Boys were 23rd out of 32 teams at the state meet

League: NHIAA Division III

Returners: Junior — Noah Fryman. Sophomores — Bryce Palmer, Michael Bohn, Joshua Jordan. Freshmen — Tristan Hannum (ran with the team as an 8th grader)

Newcomers: Junior — Kayla Zullo. Sophomore — Taven Velez

Analysis: “We’re looking to build on our success last year,” Coach Alexander Stewart said. “We have a lot of returning members, including our top five scorers. Bryce Palmer is looking to have a breakout year. New to the district is Kayla Zullo, who can quickly become one of our top runners — she’s the only girl but will run for the boys team.”

OXBOW

Coach: Cassie Saikin (5)

Last year: XXXX

League: Vermont Division XXXX

Returners: Junior — Libby Swift. Sophomores — Kevin Page, Casey Wiedrick.

Newcomers: Sophomore — Miley Chen. Freshmen — Benjamin Nelson, Seamus Fleming.

Analysis: The graduation of four runners left the Olympians with a smaller squad this year.

“We look to continue to grow our program at Oxbow,” Coach Cassie Saikin said. “While we have a small team, we still have lots of experience coming in. Many of our runners have been in our program for a few years, and they continue to push themselves to be better each week.”

THETFORD

Coaches: Joseph Deffner (30), Emily Silver (21)

Last year: Boys were third at the state meet and second at the SVL Championship. Girls won the state meet and were second in the SVL Championship.

League: Vermont Division III

Returners: Seniors — Mary Bosco, Charlize Brown, Annie Hesser, Jasper Jones, Finn Liland, Cecilia Luce, Ben Mattern. Juniors — Connor Gaine, Ava Hayden, Miguel Kutter-Walker, Brady Sloop, Hardy Payson, Oliver Ransom, Ramona Spelman, Sophomore — Wendell Durham.

Newcomers: Senior — Whitney Lewis. Juniors — Liam Murphy, Isaac Yukica. Sophomores — Lucia Carr, Elijah Renner. Freshmen — Paul Hesser, Paul Kidd, Sebastian Perdrizet

Analysis: The Panther girls are poised to defend their title while the boys hold the promise of improvement, Coach Emily Silver said

“We expect our girls’ team to respond well to the pressure of defending their VT D-III title,” Silver said. “They are a very positive group and are ready to work hard. A solid summer of training has put the runners on our boys team in a good position to improve as individuals and as a team. We are excited to see what they can do.”

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: David Mattern (3)

Last year: Girls were fourth at the state meet

League: Vemont Division III

Returnees: Senior — Anita Miller. Juniors — Madelyn Gibson, Hannah Collins. Sophomores — Bennett Hanson, Lincoln Miller, Anya Young, Julia Bowen.

Newcomers: Sophomore — Ava Patch. Freshman — Liam White

Analysis: “This season we’re hoping to build on last year’s individual successes as well as be able to score in the team competition with both teams,” coach Dave Mattern said.

WINDSOR

Coach: Kabray Rockwood (9)

Last year: No teams scores at the state meet

League: Vermont Division III

Returner: Junior — Hudson Ranney.

Newcomer: Junior — Mackenzie Pate.

Analysis: An eye to the future describes the Yellowjackets squad that is hoping numbers will increase in the years ahead.

“The high school team graduated two seniors last year and is experiencing low numbers,” coach Kabray Rockwood said. “There is hope for a revitalization with a slew of junior high runners that are showing great promise. Time will tell if that will translate to a surge in numbers at the high school level.”

WOODSTOCK

Coaches: Martha Perkins (9) and Abbie Castriotta (2)

Last year: Boys were sixth and the girls seventh at the state meet.

League: Vermont Division II

Returners: Seniors — Mac Abrams, Lila Beckwith, Logan Knox, William Obbard, Keller Pauly, Farren Stainton, Ella Stainton. Juniors — Izzy Cellini, Owen Courcey, Edwin Lynds, Myra McNaughton, James Underwood. Sophomores — Joaquin Jones-Welker, Bethany Thorburn.

Newcomers: Junior — Elizabeth Tindall. Sophomore — Dexter Namkung. Freshmen — Lucia Beckwith, Nick Cellini, Caleb Enser, Mackenzie Graham, Logan Martes, Pippa Shaw, Ukiah Jones-Welker, Liam Wheeler.

Analysis: The boys have handed the mantle of leadership to captains Mac Abrams, Owen Courcey and James Underwood with the graduation of three top runners. “Big shoes to fill,” coach Martha Perkins said, adding that Underwood participates in skyrunning, a challenging sport over mountain terrain. “Odds are, he will ‘do his thing,’ and the pack-work will be up to Courcey and Abrams,” Perkins said. “The boys’ team is excited to welcome a number of new runners this year to flush out those packs and the season looks optimistically full of discoveries.”

On the girls’ side, Woodstock returns a strong core of runners. “It’s time for this young team to stride into its own as an experienced team,” Perkins said.

She expects the style and approach of Lila Beckwith, Logan Knox and Farren Stainton to mesh nicely with other returners and determined freshmen.”