New England Championships
• When: Saturday, girls at 11:30 a.m.; boys at 12:30 p.m.
• Where: Derryfield Park, Manchester, N.H.
• Defending team champions: Boys — Bishop Hendricken (R.I.); Girls — Barrington (R.I.)
• Defending individual champions: Boys — Henry Wynne (Staples); Girls — Elle Purrier (Richford, Vt.)
• What to look for: This could be the year Connecticut sees both a boys and girls individual champion emerge. On the boys’ side, Fairfield Prep’s Christian Alvarado is a strong favorite to win the 3.1-mile course that goes through woods and open fields.
Alvarado, who is headed to Georgetown next fall, will look to continue his undefeated season. A year ago he placed ninth, but wasn’t 100 percent healthy. He’ll be challenged by Ridgefield’s Trevor Hopper, who gave him all he could handle at last week’s State Open. The pair clocked an impressive 15 minute, 31 seconds as Alvarado edged Hopper by a nose for the win.
Overall, watch for Josef Holt-Andrews of Telstar, Maine. He finished in fifth last year and recently won the Class C state title. Dan Curtis of Ellsworth, Maine, is another name to watch for. He took 17th last year and has a Class B state title under his belt.
On the girls’ side, Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi is the clear favorite. She hasn’t lost a race this season and is nationally ranked. She won the State Open in 17:44 and could lower her time. She’ll be challenged by Westhill’s Claire Howlett, who took second at the Open.
Mercy’s Kaleigh Roberts and Branford’s Cyrene Nicholas should also fare well. Roberts finished in 46th last year, while Nicholas will be running for her first time.
Overall, watch out for Emma McMillan of Barrington, R.I. She finished third last year and is strong competition for DeBalsi. Vermont’s Autumn Eastman of Champlain Valley Union is another name. She finished in eighth place last season and won a state title this fall.
• You should know: The forecast for race day looks fairly promising with just a slight chance of rain. … Alvarado and DeBalsi are both unbeaten this season.