MADBURY — Liza Corso and Colin Donnelly were the top two local finishers for their respective genders at the annual Bobcat Cross Country Invitational Saturday at Tibbetts Field.
Things for both, however, could have gone better.
Donnelly, who led Winnacunnet High School to the boys team title with 62 points, placed fourth overall in 16:46.7, but he had a scary moment early in the race when he fell down while attempting to clear the first of two hay bale obstacles.
Corso, who was 10th overall in the girls race in 20:12.2, made a lunge for the finish line battling Phillip Exeter’s Giovani Pisano. The problem was she was still well short of the finish and Pisano ended up beating her at the real wire by a full second.
“When I tripped over that hay bale, it threw me off a little bit,” Donnelly said. “I had to refocus. It was tough in the middle. But at the end, I just tried to finish. When I got out of the woods, I just tried to go as fast as a I could.”
As for Corso: "I would have liked a little faster time," she said. "It was really tough mentally.”
The Portsmouth Christian sophomore laughed at her finish. “I thought the first spray paint line was the finish line, so I was completely leaning to get her," Corso said. "And then I looked up and saw the clock so far away. That was a little difficult."
Corso was sixth last year in the D-III state meet as a freshman.
Phillips Exeter won the girls team title with 72 points. Souhegan was second with 112. ConVal was third with 113 and undermanned Oyster River had 154 to take fourth. The Bobcats lost one top runner during the race when Olivia Lenk went down in the woods and did not finish. Another top runner, Cadence Murphy, did not race.
On the boys side, Winnacunnet beat second-place Oyster River (83) by 21 points, while Phillips Exeter was third with 92.
The Winnacunnet boys placed four runners in the top nine, led by Donnelly. After him, Jack Taylor was sixth (17:01.1), Austin Denis was eighth (17:09.3) and Noah Taracena was ninth (17:11.1). The team’s fifth runner was Matt Lambert in 35th (18:10.6).
The OR boys were led by Andy O’Brien in seventh (17:09.1). Owen Fleischer was 10th in 17:17.5, while Henry Duisberg was 20th in 17:38.1. Also scoring were Ben Stone (22nd, 17:43.5) and Rowan Brown (24th, 17:50.8).
“I think our pacing’s a little better this year,” said OR coach Scott McGrath. “I think last year we were too fit too early. This was a training race for us and it went well.”
Last year’s top returning runner for the defending champs, junior Myles Carrico, won the JV boys race in 17:42.6, which would have been good for 21st in the varsity race. Carrico plays summer baseball so it’s nothing new for him to be behind the other runners aerobically when school rolls around. “The Myles you see now is not the Myles you will see in October,” McGrath said. “It’s the same situation every year with him. It is not at all disconcerting to me. He makes really big improvements.”
For the Bobcat girls, Lily Doody paced the team, taking 14th in 20:49.4. She was followed by Madison Hoppler (29th, 21;34.4), Sophie Sullivan (32nd, 21:33.8), Marlee Yoder (39th, 21:53.6) and Carly Anderson (40th, 21:57.1).
“It was tremendous having Marlee and Carly score for us,” said OR coach Fergus Cullen. “We had to reach back for some depth today.”
Other local runners to place in the top 30 were St. Thomas’s Morgan Bell in 21st (21;13.9) and Spaulding’s Abby Ward in 23rd (21:17.4).
It was all in the family for the winners from Merrimack Valley. Freshman Sophia Reynolds won the girls race in 18:52.4, while her brother, David, a senior, defended his title with a time of 16:21.0, breaking the course record he set last year (16:28).