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Harwood boys’ cross-country ninth at New England championships

Both the Harwood boys' and girls' cross-country teams finished their magical seasons with impressive finishes at the 79th annual New England Cross-Country Championships held at Derryfield Park in Manchester, NH, on November 9.

Harwood boys finished ninth among the 30 best schools in New England. The team race was won by La Salle Academy of Rhode Island. La Salle had something to prove after losing a close battle to archrival Bishop Hendricken in the Rhode Island State Championships on November 2.

Harwood boys placed an impressive ninth. In doing so, Harwood boys got revenge on the Manchester Invite small school winners from East Greenwich, RI, who beat Harwood by 12 points earlier but were defeated by Harwood at New England by 64 points.

Harwood was third among Northern New England Schools (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont). Harwood boys handily beat Oyster River (13), the New Hampshire state champion.

South Burlington, the Vermont Division 1 State Champion, finished fifth. Lewiston, the Maine State Champions, finished eighth, a mere 2.5 seconds in front of the Highlander boys.

"Harwood boys are clearly the best small high school in New England," said coach John Kerrigan. They also beat schools from some of the major cities in southern New England.

Trevor Hooper of Ridgefield, CT, won the individual race, in a mad sprint to the finish that included Alex Osterberg (Darien, CT) and Josef Holt (Telstar H.S. in Bethel, Maine).

Sam Nishi of Harwood was the top Vermont finisher (19th). He is only the third Harwood boy to receive All New England (top 25) Honors. Eric Morse (12th in 1981, 8th in 1982) and Bruce Hyde (19th in 1999 and 3rd in 2000) are the other two.

Sam's time of 15:54.9 now sits at second all time. Eric Morse's time of 15:54.0 on the same Manchester course in 1982 is the all-time best.

Sam was supported with a strong showing from his teammates; Caleb Kessler (16:41) and Nathanael Kuzio (16:42) had personal bests. The twins, Geoffrey (107th) and Nathaniel Kazlow (125th), also had solid races. Jacob Palmerio (17:46) and Noah Evans (18:21) also had personal record times.

"We had five of our seven boys get their best times ever; guess that they peaked at the perfect time. To be among the top 10 for all New England is quite an honor for our small school in the Green Mountains of Vermont," said a very happy Highlander coach Kerrigan.

Harwood girls finished a solid 27th. The girls finished in a tight pack and were a mere 10 seconds from their goal of 25th place. The team race was won by Coe-Brown Academy of New Hampshire. The individual winner was Hannah Debalsi a sophomore from Staples in CT. Debalsi, the sixth ranked runner in the U. S., won the race by a whopping 35 seconds." I don't think she will have to worry about paying her college tuition two years from now," said Kerrigan.

Harwood girls were led by Vermont Division 2 runner-up Grace Butler (133) and Ellie Ramsey (182), who placed fourth versus Vermont Division 2 runners. Marla Davidson (196) and Alice Woodruff (205) had close to personal record times. India Harvey, Charlotte Boyden and Sophie Dasaro also had fine efforts for the Highlander girls.

"It was a good showing for us; five of the seven girls had personal bests for this course." The finish was extremely tough for me, lots of emotion; five of these girls are seniors and have been with me since middle school. I was close to tears," said Kerrigan.

Sam Nishi will compete at the Footlocker Northeast Championships in New York City on November 30. Sam hopes to become the first Highlander boy to qualify for the Footlocker National Championships to be held in San Diego, California, in December.

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