A small rock pierced the bottom of Alice Woodruff’s left shoe about a mile into her race at the Vermont high school cross-country state championships Saturday.
The rock remained lodged and Woodruff discarded her shoe and continued her trek on Thetford Academy’s hilly, 5-kilometer course.
“We make them tough at Harwood,” longtime coach John Kerrigan said. “I thought she was gonna be out and then she kicked her shoe off and was able to make up some time. She ran over two miles (with one shoe).”
Gritty and determined, the Highlanders can wear another crown: Division II’s best, once again.
The Harwood girls claimed a fifth straight title while the boys secured a three-peat, the best season from start to finish in Kerrigan’s decorated tenure.
“This is my 20th state title in cross-country,” said Kerrigan, who’s coached at Harwood for 3 ½ decades. “I was really pleased with the girls. Having a competitive boys team helps, because the girls don’t want to be out-done by the boys.”
Grace Butler (second), Ellie Ramsey (fourth), Marla Davidson (seventh), Woodruff (10th) and Charlotte Boyden (11th) were Harwood’s top female finishers.
For the Harwood boys, Sam Nishi rolled to the individual title with a time of 16 minutes, 34.8 seconds (the day’s second-best time overall to South Burlington’s Sidi Abdoulaye).
Geoffrey Kazlow (third), Nathanael Kuzio (fourth), Nathaniel Kazlow (fifth) and Caleb Kessler (seventh) rounded out Harwood’s top five.
Both programs qualified for New Englands — with the Harwood boys finishing second to South Burlington in the combined results.
Harwood’s season featured a couple of out-of-state meets, including a trip to Kerrigan’s high school course on Long Island. It was worth it, the coach said.
“We have kids with average talent who worked really hard. They are not naturally gifted, just hard workers,” Kerrigan said. “And they listen, just a great group of kids. I’m gonna start crying pretty soon.”
The Woodstock girls and U-32 boys each finished second.
A brother and sister from Stowe swept the Division III individual races. And it wouldn’t take long to guess the winning family.
William McGovern took the boys race while his older sister Colleen captured the D-III girls field. William downplayed the success of his family and six older siblings.
“Less on how good we are, but just taking pride on how good we are in life, where we are athletically and work hard to stay in shape and have fun with it,” William said.
McGovern and Sam Puddicombe finished 1-2, as defending-champion Stowe nabbed four runners in the top 13 to nip Rice Memorial for the team title by one point, 24-to-25. Will Lacroix (third), Oliver Wood (fourth) and Geoffrey Carney-Knisely (fifth) paced Rice, which was aiming for its first boys title since 1964.
Colleen is also a member of the Stowe field hockey team, which won a D-III quarterfinal game Friday afternoon. But the busy two days was rather routine for the senior.
“I did it through the season,” Colleen said of splitting time between field hockey and running, “so my legs are strong.”
BFA-Fairfax edged Randolph 28-48 for the D-III girls title, ending the Ghosts’ four-year championship reign.