GRAFTON — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ Nordic ski team dominated the Division II field in both Friday’s freestyle competitions in Jericho and Tuesday’s classic races in Grafton and won the school’s first state championship in the sport since 1989.
MUHS senior Britta Clark, who also recently qualified for the Junior National Nordic team, won both the Division II classic and freestyle 5-kilometer races; senior Dominique Powers and junior Lydia Allen each contributed a pair of top-four finishes, including one second-place each; and senior Emma Ryan rounded out the Tiger scorers with sixth- and 13th-place efforts.
That quartet also coasted to victory in both 2K relay events as the Tigers finished with 51 points, 90 ahead of second-place BFA-Fairfax and 95 ahead of Woodstock in third.
First-year coach Matt Trueheart was especially pleased with Tuesday’s race, which saw Clark, Allen, Powers and Ryan go 1-2-3-6 in the classic 5K in the D-II standings. Clark, Allen and Powers were all also in the top 11 overall in the Tuesday’s combined standings with the D-I skiers, as was independent Alia Johnson, a Mount Abraham senior who trains with the Tigers.
“I was incredibly impressed with everyone’s efforts in the race today,” Trueheart said. “Even with tricky and continuously changing waxing conditions, all of our athletes took it in stride and had excellent races, many of them surpassing their own expectations and goals.”
The two-day state meet capped what had been at times a frustrating winter for the Tigers and all the Nordic teams, who have had to do a lot of dry-land training while waiting for snow.
“I’m really happy that we stuck together as a team even though the lack of snow was dismal,” Powers said. “We managed to meet our goal of winning states, and that shows that we are able to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown at us.”
Allen said the Tigers had plenty of help on the way to the title.
“I am so thankful for all the support our coaches and parents have given us throughout this season,” Allen said. “The girls set a goal at the beginning of the year to be state champs, and it feels great to have met that goal.”
The Tiger boys settled for fourth place in D-II with 196 points, trailing Woodstock (55), U-32 (123) and Fairfax (182). A highlight for MUHS was Tuesday’s classic relay, which saw the team of seniors Addison Tate, Will Conlon, Austin Kincaid and junior Mac Groves reach the podium by taking third.
Groves took fifth in the classic 5K, and Conlon was sixth to provide the individual highlights. Tate, the captain, said the Tiger boys were happy with their results.
“After having had such a tough season of constant searching for snow, I couldn’t be more excited with what we pulled off for states,” Tate said.
Mount Abe’s Johnson also excelled in Friday’s skate race in Jericho, finished second in D-II in 21:52.36. Her time in finishing second in Tuesday’s classic 5K was 21:12.11.
For Otter Valley, senior Matt Dier provided most of the highlights. He was 13th in Friday’s D-II skate race and 11th in Tuesday’s classical event. Senior Phoenix Kenney had the best results for the OV girls, 28th in the skate and 26th in the classical race. The Otter boys finished eighth, and the OV girls were seventh in D-II.
But the D-II competition belonged to the Tiger girls.
“I am so unbelievably proud of our team,” Ryan said, “and that we all gave it our all today.”
The complete D-II individual race results for the Tiger and Otter scorers were:
1. Clark, MUHS, 20:41.12; 2. Allen, MUHS, 21:22.39; 3. Powers, MUHS, 22:05.32; 4. Ryan, MUHS, 23:05; 26. Kenney, OV, 26:43.35; 34. Louisa Jerome, OV, 27:49.98; 37. Brenna Coombs, OV, 28:36.57; 49. Mei Lin Barral, OV, 33:59.96.
5. Groves, MUHS, 17:33.20; 6. Conlon, MUHS, 17:53.99; 11. Dier, OV, 18:17.36; 20. Tate, MUHS, 19:11.68; 24. Kincaid, MUHS, 20:02.80; 47. Nate Mylott, OV, 23:27.01; 49. Ryan Eastman, OV, 24:05.37; 52. Chris Keyes, OV, 25:06.04.
1. Clark, MUHS, 21:29.13; 2. Powers, MUHS, 22:42.51; 3. Allen, MUHS, 23:01.48; 13. Ryan, MUHS, 24:52.03; 28. Kenney, OV, 27:00.16; 44. Jerome, OV, 29:50.34; 58. Barral, OV, 38:18.68; 60. Alyssa Adamsen, OV, 43:00.08.
11. Conlon, MUHS, 19:47.72; 13. Dier, OV, 19:51.81; 14. Groves, MUHS, 20:00.74; 22. Tate, MUHS, 20:55.52; 24. Kincaid, MUHS, 21:08.35; 46. Eastman, OV, 24:00.56; 52. Mylott, OV, 25:27.35; 56. Keyes, OV, 26:13.12.