Souhegan runs down Coe-Brown for title

MANCHESTER – Divi­sion II girls cross country had only known one cham­pion.

Back in 2010, Class I was renamed to Division II and Coe-Brown paced the field with six straight titles. This year, Souhegan caught up.

Madeleine Hunt was first to cross the finish line with a time of 18 minutes and 15.4 seconds, leading five Sabers in the top 23, and Souhegan claimed its first crown since 2002 on Saturday at the Cross Country Divisional Championships at Derry­field Park.

"My team really be­lieved that this was our chance this year," Hunt, a senior, said. "We have such a strong team. We lost very few varsity run­ners last year, but we knew it was all going to have to come together right for us to win."

Hunt was followed by teammates Arielle Zlot­nick (seventh, 19:07.9), Jane Leighton (ninth, 19:18), Marissa Romano (16th, 19:57.3) and Shan­non Earley (23rd, 20:22.8).

Six-time defending champion Coe-Brown settled for second with 68 points, while Hanover (115), Oyster River (138) and ConVal (171) rounded out the top five.

"They ran great. The Coe- Brown girls ran really well. I thought both teams brought their best today and that was really exciting," Souhegan coach Geoff Wilson said. "I was very proud of the girls. I think they’ve clearly been capable of it. All year long they’ve kind of demonstrated that, but they had to come out and do it.

"They did it as a team," he added. "It took five and all five ran well."

Hunt was patient to start, knowing she was one of the stronger runners down the stretch. She took the lead for good with about 400 meters re­maining and held off Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin by near­ly eight seconds.

"I know I’m one of the girls in our division with a better kick," Hunt explained, "so I just really had to not panic being a little bit behind the girls and just slowly work my way up and then kick at the end."

Milford, led by Rebecca Dur­ham (sixth, 18:59.5), was ninth in the 21-team field with 196 points and Hollis Brookline, paced by Kay Partridge (17th, 19:58.2), fin­ished 11th at 296.

In the Division II boys race, Oyster River senior Patrick O’Brien blew away the field and defended his title with a meet-record 15:24.3, beating the pre­vious mark of Portsmouth’s Eric Jenkins (15:32, 2009).

Coe-Brown won its third straight title with 35 points, followed by Oyster River (61), Pelham (102), Hollis Brookline (160), Souhegan (169) and Ken­nett (182), which all advance to the Meet of Champions. Milford (338) was 14th among 21 teams.

The Cavs’ top finisher was Kenny Corsetti (12th, 17:01.9), while Patrick McGrath (20th, 17:21.5) led the Sabers, and Flo­rian Bochert (27th, 17:34.1) was first to cross the finish line for the Spartans.