Boston High School: Brie Boden

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
3:27
PM ET
There’s a good reason Manchester High School Central’s boys and Keene High’s girls can expect to hear considerable footsteps this fall.

And the fact they compete in cross country is only half of it.

New HampshireThe squads for Central and Keene last week learned they earned the statewide preseason No. 1 ranking, according to New Hampshire Cross Country. The weekly newsletter, in its 16th year, bases rankings on returning runners and team success from the previous season.

“It’s very subjective,” said Larry Martin, co-editor of the newsletter with Amy Sanborn. “But the neat thing is it creates controversy.”

It also paints a giant bull’s-eye on two teams.

“We’ll see if it’s a blessing or a curse,” said 11-year Keene coach Bill Derry, whose Blackbirds finished second in last year’s final poll. “This is exciting and this is neat. But we have to stay healthy, and things have to come together at the right time or the ranking doesn’t mean anything.”

Third-year mentor Mike Hennessy, who co-coaches Central’s boys with Coby Jacobus, echoed Derry’s sentiments. Central’s surge a year ago created enormous expectations.

“I knew we were going to be strong (this season). We made New Englands last year and didn’t have any seniors on varsity,” said Hennessy, whose 2009 team closed at No. 5 in the poll. “What we did last year with sophomores and juniors was surprising.”

Central returns its top seven runners from the team that finished fourth at the ’09 Meet of Champions. Sam Gagnon leads the group. The newsletter ranks Central’s senior with Jeff LaCoste (Bishop Guertin of Nashua), Anthony Anzivino (Pinkerton Academy of Derry), John Conlin (Merrimack) and Jack Collopy (Oyster River of Durham) as top runners.

Seniors Zach Chabot, Max Tucker, Dan Ouellette and Ryan McHugh, and juniors Sean Brown and Matt Becker round out Central’s stellar cast. McHugh is back from a broken right femur suffered in a ski accident last winter.

“Last year, we weren’t even ranked to start the season. Now we have a target on our back,” Hennessy said. “Hopefully it raises their game up.”

Four of Keene’s top five runners return. Chloe Maleski, formerly a girls’ soccer player, is among them.

In her first full cross country campaign last year as a junior, Maleski earned all-New England honors. Garnering interest from Georgetown and Boston College, she is joined by Jacy Christiansen (Mascenic Regional of Ipswich), Kelsey Smith (Exeter), Alexandra and Elizabeth Conway (Central), Brianna Tevnan (Merrimack Valley of Penacook) and Corey Dowe (Coe-Brown Academy of Northwood) as the publication's top runners.

Juniors Brie Boden and Anna Fay, and sophomore Rachel Klaski complete Keene’s quality quartet.

“Our question mark is how big is our (gap) going to be from our first to our fifth runner,” Derry said. “That’s going to be the factor that determines how good we are.”

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