THETFORD — Five runners from Middlebury, Vergennes and Mount Abraham union high schools raced to top 10 finishes in Saturday’s Division II cross-country championship races at Thetford Academy, but the Tiger boys were edged out in their quest to repeat as D-II champions.
Harwood, last year’s runner-up, placed first in the D-II boys race with 59 points, nipping both the Tigers, who were third with 67 points, and Woodstock, who took second with 61 points.
MUHS coach Emily Marquart said the Tiger boys — who had not lost to a D-II team this fall while at full strength — ran well, with several setting personal bests on the challenging 5K Thetford course. But the day belonged to the Highlanders and Wasps.
“The Harwood and Woodstock boys both had exceptional days,” Marquart said. “It was a competitive race.”
Defending D-II boys’ individual champion Stuart Guertin, a Tiger senior, settled for second on Saturday with a time of 17:57.3, about 40 seconds behind a terrific effort from Montpelier’s Daniel Grosvenor (17:17.6).
Senior Neil Guertin also cracked the top 10 for the Tigers, taking eighth in 18:23.4. Finishing just ahead of Guertin was Vergennes junior Shep Carter in seventh (18:18.9). Carter shrugged off an illness earlier in the week to run his best time ever at Thetford.
First-year VUHS coach Eric Carter said most of the Commodores, who finished seventh (224 points) bettered their times dramatically since the Oct. 1 Thetford Invitational. He was happy to see first-year runner Jarret Lafleche come on strong to be the second VUHS runner across the finish line and to see seniors David Clancy and Austin Nary finish on high notes.
“This was a very rewarding season for the team and me as a coach because everything came together for states,” Coach Carter said. “Every runner substantially improved his time at states compared to the Thetford Trail Run several weeks ago. In some cases, the improvement was over a minute, which is amazing given the difficulty of the course.”
The Mount Abraham boys, led by senior Kenny Micklas in 37th, finished 12th. Otter Valley did not have a fifth runner to field a full team; sophomore Ryan Eastman led the Otters by taking 39th.
The Tiger girls for the second straight year came in second to a dominant Harwood team. Harwood scored 39, MUHS finished with 87, and Woodstock was third with 106. The Mount Abe girls were 11th.
Two area runners cracked the top 10. Tiger senior Emily Anderson, the 2009 D-II champion, took fifth in 21:48.1, and Eagle freshman S.J. Grundon capped her fine season by finishing 8th in 22:28.7.
Again, Marquart was happy with the Tigers’ effort.
“The girls’ team pulled together ... with the majority of the girls setting individual personal records,” she said.
Saturday’s success was bittersweet for the Tigers. Marquart noted many of the athletes who have helped the MUHS program to its most successful era ever are completing their final season: On the boys’ side, both Guertins, Will Conlon, Austin Kincaid, Max Longchamp, Sawyer McLaughlin, Dennis Schut, Griffin Wood and Miles Zwicky; and on the girls’ side Anderson, Elise Biette, Jade Blodgett, Laura Ferguson, Dominique Powers and Emma Ryan.
“It was an emotional day for both teams,” Marquart said. “Both the boys’ and the girls’ teams put a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication into this season and should be very proud of their accomplishments.”
Mount Abe co-coach Brent Crum said he and co-coach Vicki Wright were glad Grundon’s performed so well, but just as happy for Micklas in his final effort for the team.
“The Mount Abe cross-country teams had some strong performances,” Crum said. “Kenny Micklas capped off his senior year with one of his all-time best performances.”
Saturday also featured a duel between two of the state’s best-ever runners for the overall girls’ crown: Richford’s Elle Purrier finished in 19:11.9 to edge Markie Palermo of Essex, who posted a time of 19:15.3.
Former Mount Abe student Malcolm Plunkett, now running for D-I South Burlington, ran the best overall boys’ time, 16:56.0.
D-II GIRLS RESULTS
The D-II girls’ winner and local varsity runners’ results were as follows:
1. Jaime Thomas, Harwood, 20:42.4.
5. Emily Anderson, MUHS, 21:48.1.
8. S.J. Grundon, Mt. Abe, 22:28.7.
19. Dominique Powers, MUHS, 23:20.5.
20. Emma Ryan, MUHS, 23:33.3.
21. Elise Biette, MUHS, 23:36.2.
22. Nicole Morris, MUHS, 23:38.6.
26. Alia Johnson, Mt. Abe, 23:50.1.
40. Natalie May, Mt. Abe, 24:42.7.
79. Carey Anne Howlett, MUHS, 28:25.9.
86. Laura Ferguson, MUHS, 29:07.1.
94. Louisa Jerome, OV, 30:51.3.
96. Hayley Slayton, Mt. Abe, 35:06.8.
97. Aylee Tudek, Mt. Abe, 36:34.5.
98. Gaylen Alexander, Mt. Abe, 36:37.3.
99. Nicole Walker, Mt. Abe, 36:49.5.
D-II BOYS’ RESULTS
The D-II boys’ winner and local varsity runners’ results were as follows:
1. Daniel Grosvenor, Montpelier, 17:17.6.
2. Stuart Guertin, MUHS, 17:57.3.
7. Shep Carter, VUHS, 18:18.9.
8. Neil Guertin, MUHS, 18:23.4.
15. Max Longchamp, MUHS, 18:38.7.
18. William Conlon, MUHS, 18:47.2.
24. Sawyer Hescock, MUHS, 18:58.2.
28. Malcolm Groves, MUHS, 19:21.9.
34. Max Moulton, MUHS, 19:48.3.
37. Kenny Micklas, Mt. Abe, 20:13.8.
39. Ryan Eastman, OV, 20:17.1.
45. Erin Cassels-Brown, Mt. Abe, 20:32.2.
47. Jarrett Lafleche, VUHS, 20:41.0.
52. David Clancy, VUHS, 20:55.5.
58. Matteo Palmer, VUHS, 21:07.2.
63. Nate Mylott, OV, 20:17.1.
66. Ryan Kelley, OV, 21:53.5.
67. Austin Nary, VUHS, 21:57.4.
72. Noah Praamsma, VUHS, 22:11.6.
78. Garth Wilson, Mt. Abe, 22:46.9.
88. Dillon L’Heureux, Mt. Abe, 23:35.6.
89. Kevin Sword, Mt. Abe, 23:42.9.
91. Nick Turner, Mt. Abe, 24:04.7.
96. Emmett Thurston, OV, 24:35.6.
99. Drew McKenzie, Mt. Abe, 25:40.8.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.