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Smith, MA lead locals at Early Bird Invitational

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

MA senior Joe Smith finished in seventh place at the Early Bird Invitational, held at Gunstock on Aug. 31. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 03, 2012
GILFORD – Beautiful weather highlighted the opening cross country race of the season for the locals, as the boys' race kicked off the annual Early Bird Invitational 5K held at Gunstock Mountain Resort on Aug. 31.

The course, which began and ended at the mountain's main lodge, featured trails through the Nordic ski course at Gunstock, meaning it was a runner-friendly course in that spectators weren't able to see much of the race until the finish line.

The Moultonboro Academy boys' team had an impressive opening day of competition, as the Panthers finished in fifth place as a team behind the efforts of senior Joe Smith, who took seventh place in the crowded field with a time of 19 minutes, 23 seconds. The experienced Smith was solidly in the top 10, with Bow's Andrew Weckstein winning the race by a huge margin, as the runner-up Drew Tuttle from Prospect Mountain was nearly 40 seconds behind the winner's time.

Next across the line for MA was Nick Bennett, who put together a strong race in taking home 14th place with a time of 20:04. Nate Bennett was 21st for the Panthers (20:39), while Devan Maher (44th, 21:51) and Quinlan Trexler (112th, 24:51) were the other scorers on the day, as MA's team total of 166 points put them in fifth. Bow won the boys' race with 55 points while Hopkinton (93), PM (94) and Plymouth (157) were the four teams ahead of them.

The Gilford High School boys' team had two runners in the top 20, as the host Golden Eagles finished in sixth place overall with 184 points.

Freshman Ryan LaFrance was the team's first runner across the line, as the rookie took ninth place overall with a strong time of 19:39 in his first varsity race as a high schooler. Teammate and sophomore Matthew Young was 18th on the day, crossing at 20:37 to give the Eagles a solid – and youthful – top two.

A pack of Gilford runners came in later on, with freshmen Justin Bellissimo (60th) and Mike Bugnacki (65th) scoring. Sophomore Cody MacLeod was the team's fifth and final scorer on the day with a 68th place performance in 23:01. Michael Czerwinski (77th), Mitchell Fillion (83rd) and Charles Jenot (84th) were also in the top 100.

There were several strong individual performances on the local side as well, as Winnisquam's Mike Roy finished in 27th place on the day. The junior clocked in with a time of 20:57. Teammate Zachary Baker finished in 47th place for the Bears with a time of 22:01, as the squad didn't send enough runners to qualify for a place in the team standings.

The Belmont High School boys' squad took 15th place in the team standings, led by junior Tyler Rolfe (79th) and sophomore Kyle Patten (82nd). Sophomore Nikolai Fernandez was 116th for the Red Raiders, while Ian Rupp (132nd) and Travis Akerstrom (136th) were the other BHS scorers on the day.

Inter-Lakes High School sent three runners to Gunstock and all three performed quite well. Senior Ryan Boquist was the first across the tape, finishing in 28th place with a time of 21:02. Freshman Ambrose Bean took 40th on the day in 21:37, while teammate Johnathan Cox rounded out the trio with a strong 52nd place showing (22:20).

Salmon Press
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