Photo courtesy of Poole Images
VERGENNES — A year ago Coach Billy Waller’s Vergennes Union girls’ basketball team won nine times and then took a 15-win team into overtime in the first round of the Division II tournament.
A half-dozen of those Commodores graduated, but Waller was not singing the blues during the preseason.
He pointed to a couple of reasons for optimism. One, the Commodores will compete in the Division III postseason this year, which should be at least somewhat less competitive.
And, two, they looked good in scrimmages at both ends of the floor, in part because many Commodores have put time in to improve...
VERGENNES — To say the least, last winter challenged the Vergennes Union boys’ basketball team. The Commodores lost their beloved coach Peter Quinn to a heart attack in the preseason and then saw junior mainstay Ben Curtis miss almost the entire season with an injury suffered early in the opener.
This year different news greeted the Commodores and Coach Josh Carter, who took over from Quinn last season as an interim but was hired as the permanent coach this year: Because of the school’s declining enrollment the program dropped down from Division II to Division III.
The Commodores’ will still...
VERGENNES — Vergennes Union Wrestling Coach Eugene Stearns was smiling during a preseason interview.
His team grew to 13 wrestlers covering most of the weight classes, five freshmen signed up (his roster includes no seniors), and he has three assistants to help his athletes continue to progress. Three of those athletes return after reaching the podium at this past winter’s state championship meet: juniors Zach Botala, Aidan Gebo and Gabriel Payne-Vinick.
And Stearns is convinced other Commodores can join them on the podium at the end of this season.
“The room has been full of excitement....
BRISTOL — Four accomplished senior wrestlers graduated from the Mount Abraham Union program this past spring, three of whom won more than 100 matches and finished high on the state-meet podium and one of whom — Roman Mayer — won multiple Vermont championships and set the school record for wins.
Coach Nick Mayer and his assistants naturally figured this winter might mean a step backward, but then 17 wrestlers signed up, enough to fill all the weight classes and create healthy competition in the Eagle wrestling room.
And some of them, Mayer said, should again stand on the podium at the end of...
BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union boys’ basketball team is coming off a respectable eight-win season.
Coach Martin Clark is aiming a little higher this year, however, with what he called a deep, athletic team and a style he hopes will take advantage of those assets.
“We will look to run the floor with several boys with quickness and a deeper bench than years past,” Clark said.
Senior forward and leading scorer Liam Kelliher returns, and Clark called him “the backbone of our team.”
But he said the Eagles shouldn’t have to rely on Kelliher every night because of the team’s balance.
BRISTOL — Almost all the players have graduated from the Mount Abraham Union girls’ basketball teams that won the 2018 Division II title and then earned the top seed in 2019 before being upset in a close semifinal.
But Coach Connie LaRose is not complaining. She has what she calls an enjoyable, energetic team that she believes will at the least hold its own.
“I think we’re going to be fun to watch. I think they’re going to be fun to coach,” LaRose said. “What more can you ask for?”
The Eagles could also be a little deeper this year, allowing more substitutions and a quicker tempo.
BRANDON — The move from Division II to Division III may be more of a lateral move for the Otter Valley Union High School girls’ basketball team this year.
While they will no longer have to travel to Brattleboro and Mount Anthony, they will have to deal with strong teams in Lake Region, Windsor and Thetford. Still, shorter bus trips to away games can’t hurt.
Third-year coach Kelley Trayah has all of his starters back this year, including five seniors and four juniors.
“It will definitely help, especially with travel,” Trayah said. “When you have to travel two and a half hours, it takes a lot...
BRANDON — A new coach is at the helm of the Otter Valley boys’ basketball team, and with that, a new team. Literally.
When it comes to varsity experience, head coach Mike Stark may start five juniors who have never played a varsity game. The team graduated nine seniors last year, and seven-year coach Greg Hughes stepped down in the off-season to spend more time with his family. There are only two returning players from varsity, and neither started last year.
But they have company. There are seven juniors on this OV team, plus seniors Logan Trombley and Julian Lopez, and sophomores Elijah...
BRANDON — The recruitment and retention plan the Otter Valley wrestling team has implemented to bolster the varsity squad is paying off, and this year the team features 12 grapplers.
Fifth-year coach Cole Mason said his team is solid through the underclassmen, all of whom bring experience having wrestled at the town recreation level and in middle school. Both of those programs have been strengthened in recent years and are now funneling experienced freshmen and sophomores into the varsity program.
It was necessary to keep the high school program alive, as it was just five years ago that Mason...
BRANDON — The Nordic ski team at Otter Valley is building momentum going into this season.
Fourth-year head coach Devon Fuller was seeing improvement and focus in preseason as his team prepared for the season with 15 student-athletes, seven of whom are in the middle school.
There are no captains, but the team boasts three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman, plus four eighth-graders and three seventh-graders.
Many of the students are returning team members.
“The kids are getting better all the time,” Fuller said. “I have a handful that started in seventh grade and now are freshman and...