MIDDLEBURY — In a mid-week cross-country meet that followed Saturday’s major Burlington Invitational, the host Middlebury Union High School boys’ and girls’ teams breezed to wins on Tuesday over Mount Abraham, Vergennes and Spaulding.
In Tuesday’s meet, the Tiger girls scored 16 points, followed by Spaulding, 51, and Mount Abe, 61. VUHS fielded only one female runner. The MUHS boys totaled 26 points, followed by Spaulding, 41, Mount Abe, 73, and VUHS, 105. VUHS coach Jeff Kauffman held out most of his top runners after Saturday’s big event.
Tiger sophomore Emily Anderson coasted to a 52-second victory in the girls’ race over senior teammate Hilary Swift, although Anderson’s time of 22:11.76 was almost two minutes slower than her second-place finish against Division I competition in Burlington three days earlier.
Runners cited Tuesday’s heat and stiff wind in the open areas of the course as contributing to slow times. What Mount Abe coach Vicki Bronson called a deceptively difficult 5-kilometer course also led to generally average clockings, and MUHS coach Noah Hurlburt said some athletes may have had been less “psyched” for Tuesday’s race than they had been in Burlington.
Anderson and Swift led the Tiger girls to a 1-2-3-4-6 finish, with sophomores Dominique Powers and Elise Biette running 3-4 and freshman Nicole Morris winning a late sprint vs. Spaulding’s Chantel Cherrier to take sixth.
Mount Abe’s Alia Johnson prevented a Tiger sweep by taking fifth. Hannah DeGraaf, the only VUHS runner who competed in the girls’ race, took 16th in 28:57.63.
In the boys’ race, Spaulding’s Zach Baldwin posted a 17-second win in 18:17.22. Mount Abe freshman Malcolm Plunkett, who missed the invitational, snuck up on Tiger sophomore Stuart Guertin in the last 30 yards and overtook him by inches to take second in 18:34.33.
Guertin was third, officially in 18:36.19, but MUHS coach Noah Hurlburt said that Guertin’s actual time was quicker because he couldn’t hit the timing button any faster after recording Plunkett’s time.
Neil Guertin then led a parade of Tigers across the line: he took fourth, senior Schuyler Klein was fourth, sophomore Will Conlon was fifth, and junior Yoann Gocostiaga-Maurer finished seventh.
Jesse Morris led the VUHS contingent by taking 20th in 21:38.97.
At about three weeks into the season, the local teams’ coaches were all feeling generally positive about how things were shaping up.
Bronson was happy that Johnson cracked the top five, and she expects better results when some other female runners, including Emily Friend and Olivia Plunkett, return from injury.
“We’re still kind of nursing some injuries, so our top five is still looking kind of slim,” she said.
She noted that many girls and boys improved their times by one to three minutes from the same race a year ago, and that the boys’ team is making progress.
“I was very pleased with the boys. They got five right in the lower 20s,” Bronson said. “They’re running together a lot better than we thought.”
Kauffman, in his first year with the VUHS program, said Chris Parfitt, Shep Carter and Ellen Watkins are running well. His boys’ team has more depth, he said, behind his top two runners.
“Chris and Shep are having good years, and we have seven or eight guys vying for the top seven spots all running really close together,” he said.
The Commodores used Tuesday as a chance to let some of the less experienced runners shine, while older runners stayed at VUHS to train.
“It gives a couple of the younger runners a chance to figure things out,” he said. “Just getting them out and getting them used to the race environment is key.”
Hurlburt said some of his runners looked a little off, while others continued to make steady progress. Overall, he found it hard to argue with the results.
“It was a very solid day,” he said. “To come back (after Burlington) and run as well as we did was really good.”
On the girls’ side, Hurlburt said he is pleased that some of his runners are starting to pick up their times behind Anderson.
“From one to five in our scoring, we’re starting to bunch girls closer,” he said.
The Guertins continue to lead the way for the boys’ team, while the team’s depth is beginning to pay dividends, he said.
“Stuart and Neil have to get it done, week in and week out,” he said. “But it’s a 1:14 (time spread) one-to-five. That’s great grouping that I think we can cut down to into that 45-second range by the end of the year.”
Of course, Anderson is one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to win the D-II individual girls’ title now that the Tigers have dropped down from D-I this fall.
Hurlburt said the sophomore is improving her tactics as well as her times.
“I think Emily’s getting stronger race-by-race,” he said. “She’s learning, becoming a real student of the sport.”
Predictions are difficult, because the Tigers have yet to face many Southern Vermont runners, something that should occur Oct. 2 at Thetford. Certainly, Hurlburt said Anderson would like to win, but a championship is not her only goal in a sport where 20 minutes on one day on one course make all the difference.
“That’s what she’s training for ... but anything can happen,” he said. “As long as she’s having fun, everything else will come out in the wash, I guess.”
The top 10 runners on Tuesday for each of the local teams were:
MUHS: 1. Anderson, 22:11.76; 2. Swift, 23:03.99; 3. Powers, 23:32.19; 4. Biette, 24:05.01; 6. Morris, 24:50.73; 12. Maddie Kincaid, 28:05.98; 15. Laura Ferguson, 28:81.71; 17. Ciera Lazarus, 29:39.95; 27. Jade Blodgett, 37.44.43.
MOUNT ABE: 5. Johnson, 24:38.03; 11. Patience Thompson, 27:55.59; 13. Katelynn Sawyer, 28:08.81; 14. Wendi Bedard, 28:43.68; 19. Megan Bedard, 31:28.36; 21. Brynna Carper, 33:12.51; 25. Amber Emmell, 36:52.40; 26, K.C. Cousineau, 37:18.89; 28. Shannon diPietro, 38:21.63; 29. Mariah Clark, 38:43.56.
VUHS: 16. DeGraaf, 28:57.63.
The top 10 runners on Tuesday for each of the local teams were:
MUHS: 3. S. Guertin, 18:36.19; 4. N. Guertin, 18:49.81; 5. Klein, 19:20.76; 6. Conlon, 19:30.38; 7. Gocostiaga-Maurer, 19:50.16; 9. Sawyer Hescock, 19:56.89; 14. James Cobb, 21:10.63; 16. Nate Joselson, 21:24.22; 21. Charlie Mulcahy, 22:17.15; 23. Max Longchamp, 22:19.96.
MOUNT ABE: 2. Plunkett, 18:34.33; 13. Isaac Prescott, 20:46.89; 17. Erin Cassels-Brown, 12:28.84; 19. Mark Dickerson, 21:32.60; 29. Kenny Micklas, 23:29.58; 34. Garth Wilson, 25:12.96; 41. Kevin Sword, 25:47.50.
VUHS: 20. Morris, 21:38.97; 22. Jon Welch, 2:18.38; 24. John DeVos, 22:39.02; 30. Joe Krayewsky, 23:48.28; 32. Austin Nary, 24:44.00; 35. Jason Vorsteveld, 25:17.08.
The top five runners for the MUHS, VUHS and Mount Abe at Saturday’s Burlington Invitational, in which 18 teams competed at the University of Vermont’s Catamount Center, were:
MUHS GIRLS: 2. Anderson, 19:38.36; 48. Swift, 22:53.03; 70. Powers, 23:57.83; 72. Morris, 24:07.06; 105. Ferguson, 29:05.02.
VUHS GIRLS: 42. Ellen Watkins, 22:30.81; 74. Hannah Sturtevant, 24:10.16; 87. Anne Clancy, 26:29.62; 98. Isabel Hamilton, 27:37.92; 102. DeGraaf, 28:27.95.
MOUNT ABE GIRLS: 50. Johnson, 22:55.49; 91: Thompson, 26:37.84; 96. W. Bedard, 27:20.92; 97. M. Bedard, 27:35.46; 99. Sawyer, 27:45.87.
MUHS BOYS: 27. S. Guertin, 18:20.89; 33. N. Guertin, 18:32.39; 62. Gocostiaga-Maurer, 19:24.18; 65. Klein, 19:25.34; 66. Hescock, 19:26.16.
VUHS BOYS: 25. Chris Parfitt, 18:15.15; 38. Shep Carter, 18:34.08; 72. Nate Cannon, 19:33.39; 97. Damian Chamberlain, 20:25.15; 102. Ben Parsons, 20:40.64.
MOUNT ABE BOYS: 100. Cassels-Brown, 20:34.49; 101. Prescott, 20:35.97; 112. Dickerson, 21:46.64; 123. Micklas, 24:00.70; 125. Sword, 24:04.76.