By ANDY KIRKALDY
RIPTON — The Middlebury Union High School Nordic skiing team enjoyed its only home meet of the winter with three top-20 finishes in the girls’ race and two top-20 placements in the boys’ event in excellent conditions at Middlebury College’s Rikert Ski Touring Center on Saturday. Otter Valley’s Rainer Kenney also cracked the boys’ top 20.
“We couldn’t have asked for the more perfect classic ski racing day,” said MUHS coach Chas Lyons.
Senior Gretchen Powers led the way for the Tigers by taking fourth among 59 skiers in the girls’ race with a time of 17:21.
Rutland’s Keely Levins won in 15:43, a full 1:25 faster than teammate Hannah Wright in second at 17:08. Mount Mansfield’s Emily Stitt edged Powers for third in 17:18.
In all, the Tiger girls were third of eight teams, scoring 58 points. Rutland (17) and Champlain Valley (37) ran 1-2, and Mount Mansfield (61) was fourth.
Also scoring for the Tiger girls’ were sophomore Sophie McKibben, 12th in 20:15; freshman Dominique Powers, 15th in 20:26; and junior Eliza Carver, 27th in 21:23. Senior Esthena Barlow also competed for MUHS, finishing 44th in 22:37.
Because OV has only three female skiers the Otters could not score as a team. Senior Emma Rubbins-Breen led OV by taking 28th in 21:32. Senior Kelsey Spotts was 35th in 22:07, and freshman Phoenix Kenney finished 53rd in 24:18.
Also skiing in the girls’ race were two local independents. Freshman Britta Clark of the North Branch School finished 21st in 20:53, and freshman Alia Johnson of the Gailer School was 29th on 21:37.
On the boys’ side, MUHS senior Walker Allen was ninth in 15:50 and Tiger sophomore Will Earle was 17th in 17:02 to help the Tigers edge the Otters, 88-97. The teams finished fourth and fifth, respectively, behind MMU (12), CVU (41), and Burlington (48).
Also scoring for MUHS were juniors Zander Carver (24th in 17:49) and Charlie Mulcahy (38th in 19:44). Junior Kelsey McGlashan (41st in 20:13) and freshman Austin Kincaid (50th in 21:19) also strapped on skis for MUHS.
Lyons was happy with the efforts of both the girls’ and boys’ teams on their home course.
“The Midd squad put out some great performances,” he said.
Kenney led the four-man OV contingent by taking 19th in 17:16. The other three Otters finished in a 27-28-29 group: sophomore Adrian Brown in 17:58, senior Colter Peterson in 18:03, and senior John Chestna in 18:04, respectively.
MMU’s Peter Hegman and David Bernstein ran 1-2 in the boys’ race, posting times of 13:42 and 14:04, respectively. The Cougars coasted to their win by taking four of the top five spots, with only CVU’s John Dixon’s third-place finish in 14:36 preventing a sweep.