This past Saturday, the Oyster River’s boys’ cross country team’s win at the Division 2 State Championship meet cracked the Coe-Brown boys’ three year winning streak.
On October 28th, Oyster River sent its top seven boys and girls to compete at the Cross Country Division 2 State Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester. The OR boys went into the meet confident that they would win while the girls’ team, seeded 4th, hoped to come home with a title.
Coach Scott McGrath explained that the boys’ plan was to start the race conservatively, using the whole first mile to settle into position. They were also instructed to be reactionary to their primary rival, Coe-Brown. McGrath says, “our boys executed the plan well, for the most-part. A few of the boys were under the weather and did not run to their ability. We are fortunate to have had a team that is deep enough to withstand a couple sub-par individual races.”
The race started fast, but the OR boys held back between the tenth and twenty-fifth position (out of 150) for the first half mile. By the mile, OR had three in the top ten with rest of their varsity following close behind. Coe-Brown’s Evan Tanguay (‘18) made a big move in the second mile and Kieran Murphy (‘18) wasn’t able to match this move as he had hoped to. First to finish for OR was Murphy in second, followed closely by Parker Spinney (‘18) and Myles Carrico (‘20) both in the top ten.
Murphy had to take time off leading up to this meet for an ankle and shin injury. As a result “this race was by far my worst and most painful of the year. I felt out of shape and the lactic acid build up was extreme,” he says.
McGrath was happy with the win but not satisfied with the racing ability his boys showed overall. “I think the external pressure to accomplish what we were capable of on paper affected the team’s mentality. People tend to run their best when they are relaxed, and the butterflies got the better of us today,” says McGrath.
Most of the team’s JV members supported their varsity by coming up to watch and cheer. “The entire team went in knowing the guys were going to win so there wasn’t too much stress as a spectator, but it was still really interesting getting to see them in action. They always kill it so it’s fun to watch them,” says Grace Castonguay (‘20).
The OR girls put themselves in the middle of the competition early and held that position the whole way. Coe Brown had three in front of OR’s third runner but OR had five in front of Coe Brown’s fourth. Souhegan picked up five points by finishing one place in front of OR girls. A member of OR’s varsity, Emily Allison (‘18), says that it was “really competitive from the start. Everyone knew we were all after the same thing so it was definitely stressful.”
Even after the girls race was complete, it was uncertain who had placed first, second, and third until the officials announced it. The results were Souhegan finishing first with 62 points, Coe Brown finishing second with 72, and OR finishing third with 80.
All five of OR’s scoring girls medaled individually. Coach Fergus Cullen noted that dating back to 2004 the most he was able to find was three individual medalists. It was also their best team point total ever.
Individually, Danielle Slavin’s (‘18) final race at Derryfield was yet another strong one. She finished third, making her a top ten finisher all four years that she has competed at the DII States. OR’s second finisher was Lily Doody (‘20) which was a surprise to everyone. Cullen says, “we got a big race today out of Doody which I could see coming, but I didn’t expect her to be our second girl today. You can just see that she’s getting more race experience, she’s getting more confidence, she obviously has the natural ability, and she keeps getting stronger, so that’s just great to see.”
The rest of the girls ran well but hope to come back even stronger next week at the Meet of Champions at Mines Falls in Nashua. All of OR’s girls share a common goal for the team: “BEAT COE BROWN.” However, the team’s main goal is to qualify for the New England regional meet. OR’s girls will go into MOCs seeded fifth based on the merged results from all divisions. The top six teams out of the eighteen teams in NH that qualify for MOCs, will continue on to New England’s.
Cullen says that, “if we make New England’s next week it would be the first time OR girls have done that in over a decade, and that would be a big deal to achieve.”
On the boys’ side at the Meet of Champions, OR hopes that with a week of less intense training they will feel more rested going into the race. Murphy would like to see personal records across to board. He says, “Nashua is a fast course and we will be ready to go all out.”