Watch the New Hampshire Meet of Champions today, free of charge and boasting great regional accents
It looks like a nice day for at least one state record.
In less than two hours, the 2020 New Hampshire Meet of Champions at Mine Falls Park in Nashua will start with the girls’ race at 2:20 p.m., with the boys scheduled to take off at 3:00 p.m. You can watch the videos for free, live or on demand here.
I can’t stress enough how good these productions are in terms of splits, graphics, commentary and especially the inevitable filler compared to the various paid services out there. If Milesplit slithered its tentacles into the streaming of New Hampshire high-school running events, the effect would be no less ugly and noticeable than the Clear Channel taking over the broadcast schedule of a longstanding and beloved local radio station and squeezing every bit of quality from the listening experience for everyone who isn’t brain-dead and for many who are.
The wave starts, with two runners per team in each wave and the waves separated by 8 or 10 seconds, continue to introduce a strange element into racing, but the kids seem to have adapted well, although it’s hard to evaluate the effects on those further back in the pack. Owing to limited time and undisguised bias, I’m making only a few predictions and most of them concern the boys’ race.
With Aidan Cox running 15:15 last week at Derryfield Park in a way that showed even greater fitness, the door is clearly open for an assault on Patrick O’Brien’s course record of 15:03. Mine Falls runs about 25 to 30 seconds faster than Derryfield for the best boys, all else the same, and with no other races on the horizon after this one, it seems unlikely that Cox — only a sophomore — won’t take off at 4:40-4:45 pace and just keep going at that speed for as long as he can. The weakness of his demonstrated kick is rendered almost irrelevant by the fact that no one will be able to keep up with him for even two miles if he’s on. And he can afford to gamble, because even if he pays a price and fades to a relatively dismal 15:30 or even 16:00, his Coe-Brown teammates should be able to absorb the hit and finish in front of Concord by at least 15 to 20 points. I keep coming up with scenarios in which Concord could prevail, but any path my mind produces toward that outcome is looking as realistic as a legitimate Donald Trump election victory at this moment in history. It would require, in addition to Concord’s top five assembling the races of their lives, abysmal performances by at least three of Coe-Brown’s boys. And as much as I pull for Concord, I can’t root for a team stacked with as many systematically cool kids and parents as Coe-Brown boats to simply crap out.
I expect Concord’s Eben Bragg to have the best chance of upsetting Cox. He’s beaten him once this season, and it didn’t look like an off-day for Cox at the time. He runs his best hanging off the back of a fast pace, and I can see him running 15:10 or better if the course is as hard and dry as alleged. The N.H. scene has no shortage of kids willing to challenge Cox, including Patrick Gandini of Gilford, Landen Vallaincourt of Mascenic Regional and maybe Londonderry’s top two.
On the girls’ side, as on the boys’ Coe-Brown and Concord look poised to go 1-2, though Concord will get a race from D2 challengers Hanover and Souhegan. Cox’s older sister Addison, a senior, and Souhegan junior Chloe Trudel will almost certainly establish themselves immediately at the front and battle for the win with a time in the 17:50s, maybe faster.
A final note: The more the everyday running scene becomes molded into a clearinghouse for grievances and dramas, the more the people who continue to do real, good work on behalf of the sport stand out for what they do, separating themselves from those who simply complain. The folks who do all of the work for these videos — which are only one part of the effort invested in NewHampshireCrossCountry.com and NewHampshireTrackandField.com websites — do all of it for free, and the do it with the interests of the kids and good sportsmanship in mind. It’s no exaggeration that Cox and his considerable crew have, in less than five years, altered the entire landscape of New Hampshire youth running for the better in every way a parent, coach or fan could want. They’re not trying to attract Twitter followers or vainglory of any sort, or even Substack donors. The fact that almost everyone involved is white and most are male only diminishes their efforts in the small minds of people who consider made-up offenses, threats of boycotts and blatant double standards to be useful tools in enacting change. If everyone just stood on the sidelines and screamed about how terrible everything is and how the establishment needs to go, none of this would happen.
This may actually surprise some folks, but the sport can’t be sustained for long, or at all, on social-justice Molotov cocktails, angry newsletters and Twitter guerilla warfare. As I type this some eager goon out there is typing something aimed at increasing the volume of this bullshit. This isn’t a race I or anyone can confidently call at this juncture; all I can do it continue to insist that the most energetic warriors are going to emerge from this with the most visible and ugly scars, and they won’t be the result of blows from people like me; they’ll be inflicted by friendly fire.