HINSDALE, N.H. -- Hinsdale hosted Monadnock on Friday at the Pacer’s first ever cross-country track meet in the school’s history, that set competitors on a three-mile course that challenged them across multiple terrain types, on an unseasonably warm day. Hinsdale was victorious, 26-29 overall.
On the final stretch of her last lap, Roxy Toussaint brought it home for the lady Pacers, finishing in first place with a time of 20:55.
She said her inspiration was the fans.
Cross-country can sometimes be a solitary experience, as runners usually make their way out onto a field or other location which brings them away from the crowd, said Toussaint. "But here, I could see family and friends cheering me on," she said. "For that reason, it was a really fun course."
A pack of Monadnock harriers came in right behind Toussaint, which included Michaela Athanasopoulos (21:12), Kitty Tolman (21:31), and Taylor McAnney (23:47).
"It’s a great course," said Athanasopoulos. "I think I beat my old record by about three minutes, so I had a good day."
Athanasopoulos had previously beaten Toussaint earlier in the year at the Manchester Invitational.
Starr Bruce was the next Pacer to cross the line with a finishing time of 26:37. She was followed by Hinsdale’s Taryn Fisk (27:31), Katelyn Towle (28:35), Kristina Marsh (28:36), and Brittany Melroy (30:03).
The remaining Huskies who immediately followed McAnney were Kate Gross and Jenna Athanasopoulos, who finished together in 25:57.
"It was a pleasure to come to Hinsdale," said Monadnock coach Tom Pickering. "I thought our boys ran well overall. It was a close race and a beautiful day for it. We look forward to the next meet here."
As war paint began to chip off his face, a final burst sent Tanner Nichols across the white line with a time of 18:04, to take the crown for the Pacers.
"I knew he (Kris Newell) was on my back, so I just grinded it out," said Nichols. "A very close race. Incredible. Best race I’ve ever competed in."
Monadnock’s Newell finished just behind Nichols at 18:09.
"Coming up the hill I powered by him," said Newell. "About halfway through the lap, Nichols powered back. Fun race."
Hinsdale’s Evan Dunkley gunned it on the last stretch to be the next Pacer over the line with a third place finish in 19:11. He was quickly followed by teammate Daniel Bruce.
"They’re a good team," said Hinsdale’s Bruce, after he and Nichols did some last-minute warm-ups before the race. "Very combative. I think if we do well today, it will solidify all the hard work we put in over the summer. Today, I’m looking to set a personal record."
At their last engagement, Bruce ran a 20:40 three-mile against Monadnock. Knowing he had accomplished what he set out to do, with his hands raised above his head, Bruce crossed the finish line with a time of 19:17.
"I could feel Bruce start to pick it up," said Dunkley. "I didn’t want him to beat me. As soon as I made the last turn, I kicked it and cruised in for the last 200 meters, giving it everything I had."
Monadnock’s Quentin Bazarniki (19:30) came in behind Bruce, followed by Colt Busick (20:12), Luke Maxfield (20:19), Lucas LeBlanc (23:20), and Richard Brown (29:17).
The Pacers’ Florin Handelman came in eighth with a time of 20:30. And teammates Nick Dowley (24:33), Sam Calderwood, Drew Cooper (both 25:16), Chase Fisk (33:22), and Ultin Akeley (34:42) all tallied points for the winners.
"There’s been a lot of excitement all week at the school," said athletic director Michael McCosker. "Kind of like an early Christmas for everyone."
Hinsdale coach Glenn Hammett designed the course using his experience setting up the town’s local Fun Runs. "We want to have a home meet every year now," said Hammett. "I’d like to give credit to coach Pickering. He penciled us into his schedule after I had sent out a desperate email. He was gracious, and helped make it happen today."
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.