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Local harriers back to work at Gunstock

September 03, 2009
GILFORD — The fall-like final days of August were a welcome change as Plymouth and Newfound Regional High School cross country teams kicked off their season last week, joining a 16-team field for the Gilford Early Bird Invitational on Friday at Gunstock.

Both schools boasted young teams and promising results in their season-opening meet. The heat and humidity most runners endured during training gave way to much cooler weather in time for the Early Bird, but it would still come down to speed and skill as the Bobcats and Bears got their first chance to size themselves up against some of the competition in Class I and M-S.

The Newfound boys are looking to a core group of seasoned runners this year. Senior Zak Morel picked up where he left off last season, clocking in just over 17 minutes as he picked up a third place finish to lead the Bears. Jake Lundberg earned a time of 19:38 to pick up 27th place, while Dustin Sewall took 33rd at 20:14. Sean Coleman (37th) and Riley Smith (61st) rounded out the top five. Mike Bruning (82nd) and Jake Morel (107th) also scored.

The Plymouth boys are rebuilding after the loss of key seniors, but have had several young runners step up to take the reins. Sophomore Mike Maclean was at the head of that group Friday, putting up a time of 19:04 for a 15th place finish in his cross country debut. Conor Loynd joined him at the finish line just under a half-minute later to take 23rd, while Matt Sanborn hit the finish line at 19:36 to take 26th. Evan Thorne and Cody Gookins powered through the homestretch to take 59th and 60th respectively, rounding out the top five. Dan Palmison (80th) and Nick Grass (88th) also scored for the Bobcats.

Bow's John Vinnenberg cruised through the course with a time of 16:33, winning the race by 24 seconds. A senior-heavy Belmont squad claimed the team victory, placing five runners in the top 10 and six in the top 12.

On the girls' side, Plymouth is looking to build a solid group with new additions to the squad. Junior Abby Clark is a veteran member of that group, and opened the season with a time of 22:01, good for 11th overall. Freshman Sarah Uhlman didn't let a knee injury stop her from making her season debut at Gunstock, gutting it out for a time of 24:36, good for 41st. Katie Uhlman and Deidre Flynn-Robinson finished three seconds apart as they took 63rd and 64th, while Maggie Gaiero joined them six seconds later in 66th, rounding out the top five. Aliza Harrigan (72nd) and Emily Yepez (76th) also qualified for points.

The Newfound girls are again a small squad, sending four to Gunstock with hope of a fifth joining the team down the road. Victoria Santry led the quartet of underclassmen with a 35th place finish, clocking in at 24:06. She'd be followed by Nicole Stevens, who finished 53rd at 25:39, while Katie Dorey arrived just over the 26-minute mark to take 60th and Jess Yeaton rounded out the effort, finishing 86th.

Hopkinton remains the small school team to beat after a convincing performance at Gunstock. Emily Cousens edged Bow's Emily Buck by one second to pick up the individual title, while the Hawks took the rest of the top five and six out of the top ten to cruise to a team win as well.

With two months of running left and no promises for weather conditions, the Plymouth and Newfound squads have plenty of challenges ahead as they rebuild and press forward against stiff competition in both Class I and Class M-S. Plymouth was in Merrimack Valley Tuesday for a meet and will return to action next Tuesday in Pembroke at 4:15 p.m., while Newfound heads to Winnisquam for a meet Thursday at 4:30 p.m., with their first of two home meets the following Thursday, also at 4:30 p.m.

Martin Lord Osman
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