The Nordic skiers from Champlain Valley Union High School came into Day 2 of the state championships Tuesday with a target on their backs. But for the competition, that target grew steadily smaller until it vanished into the trees, not to be seen again until the trophy presentation.
The CVU boys and girls each wrapped up state titles in dominant fashion during the classic portion at Prospect Mountain in Woodford, building on their hefty leads from the freestyle discipline last week at Craftsbury. The Redhawk boys captured places 2 through 5 in the five-kilometer individual race and won the relay to finish with 52 points, while the girls went 1-3-7-9 and also won their relay to finish with 60 points.
“This is a celebration of all the hard work these kids have put in,” said CVU coach Sarah Strack, whose girls were defending Division I state champs and boys were one year removed from the title. “They took care of business today, but it wasn’t easy. They had to work for it, and they had to earn it.”
CVU’s Taylor Spillane won the D-I girls race in 18:04.7, saying afterward that the task could only be accomplished with a strong combination of mind and motor.
“The beginning of the course was all mental strength, flats rolling up and down that you had to drive yourself over,” Spillane said. “But once the hills started, it was all engine.
“You know you’re going to hit a wall at some point during the race, and it’s going to hurt — you just have to push yourself through it.”
Teammates Autumn Eastman (third), Cally Braun (seventh) and Emma Hamilton (ninth) capped the Redhawk girls’ individual scoring. Eastman said the team’s desire to maintain its lead from Day 1 provided fuel for CVU’s championship drive.
“If you have nothing to fight for, why fight?” Eastman said. “And we did.”
The Redhawk boys were even more dominant in their race, putting their first five skiers across the finish line in succession behind winner Isaac Wright of Rutland.
CVU’s Forrest Hamilton (second, 15:59.5) said the tracks on the course glazed over as the day went on, creating a faster surface for the Redhawk boys to build on their lead from the freestyle portion.
“We had a lot of confidence coming in here after Craftsbury,” Hamilton said. “We felt pressure, but I think that drives us as a team and helps us excel.”
Fellow CVU boys Emmett Peterson, Sean Delaney, Parker Frances and Marvin Muller took places 3 through 6, setting the stage for what was essentially a victory lap in the 4×2.5K relay that capped the championships.
And what a victory lap it was: CVU took the lead off the relay’s mass start and cruised to first place by a margin of 1:15 over second-place Mount Anthony.
The Redhawk girls won their relay by a two-minute gap over Mount Mansfield, with Eastman tackling the anchor leg and finishing with arms raised, skiing straight into the waiting embrace of her teammates.
“I just wanted to bring it home with a smile on my face,” Eastman said.
Despite the dogfight mentality among the top contenders, most skiers were clearly enjoying the abundant snow and picturesque setting for the championship finale.
South Burlington senior Austen Erickson couldn’t help but smile as he caught his breath after the boys individual race.
“I know some people are feeling pressure today, but I’m having a lot of fun,” said Erickson, who cracked the top 50 among the D-I boys. “It’s a beautiful winter day, and we’re on great snow. You can’t ask for much more.”
Strack said such an attitude was paramount to her team’s championship success.
“One of the things we’ve tried to do all season is work hard, but have fun in the process,” Strack said. “What you’re seeing today is the power of positive thinking by a team.”
For other squads, that positivity was coming from a glimpse into the future.
Quin Munns of the defending state champion Mount Mansfield boys saw the Cougars’ third-place team finish as a sign of a potential title run in 2014.
“A lot of us are young, and that gives us a lot of potential,” said Munns, who placed 17th. “I think we’re definitely going to peak next year.”
The Division-II competition saw a similar story unfold, as Woodstock’s boys and girls each took home state crowns.
U-32 was runner-up among the D-II boys with Middlebury third, while BFA-Fairfax and Middlebury finished 2-3 among the D-II girls.
Woodstock’s Zane Fields and Carmen Bango won the individual D-II boys and girls races, respectively.
Nordic championship results
Division I Boys
1. CVU 52.0; 2. Mount Anthony 123.0; 3. Mount Mansfield 188.0; 4. Essex 302.0; 5. Brattleboro 329.0; 6. BFA 336.0; 7. Rutland 457.0; 8. South Burlington 526.0; 9. North Country 570.0
Boys 5K Classic
1. Isaac Wright Rutland 15:48.8; 2. Forrest Hamilton CVU 15:59.5; 3. Emmett Peterson CVU 16:18.1; 4. Sean Delaney CVU 16:30.4; 5. Parker Frances CVU 16:31.2; 6. Marvin Muller CVU 16:50.0; 7. Jeremiah Colbath MAU 16:53.8; 8. Luke Keenan MAU 16:56.2; 9. Ethan John Essex 16:58.9; 10. Graham Glennon Bratt 17:09.8
1. CVU (Forrest Hamilton, Parker Frances, Sean Delaney, Emmett Peterson) 31:47.1 2. MAU (Jeremiah Colbath, Caleb Cohen, Ben Faller, Luke Keenan) 33:02.2 3. MMU (Wylie Picotte, Quin Munns, Austin Tremblay, Alec Pelton) 33:27.0 4. Essex (Ethan John, Steven Maloney, Caleb Guziak, Chris Leow) 35:09.1 5. BFA (Cody Putnam, Will Jones, Cody Boissoneault, Kyle Putnam) 35:14.4 6. Brattleboro (Austin Nichols, Declan King, Colby McGinn, Graham Glennon) 35:40.6 7. Rutland (Evan Hill, Matt Fogg, Jamie Hamilton, Isaac Wright) 37:57.8 8. South Burlington (Patrick Hickey, Austen Erickson, Matt Gordon, Griffin Cannon) 38:41.2 9. North Country (Brian Delabruere, Alexander Cotnoir, Daniel Decelles, Sam Brunnette) 39:40.6
Division II Boys
1. Woodstock 88.0; 2. U-32 126.0; 3. Middlebury 210.0; 4. Harwood 215.0; 5. Stowe 305.0; 6. BFA-Fairfax 324.0; 7. Burr and Burton 403.0; 8. Craftsbury 472.0; 9. Lyndon 510.0;
Boys 5K Classic
1. Zane Fields WS 15:53.4; 2. Mac Groves MIDD 15:57.3; 3. Nathanael Kuzio HAR 16:13.7; 4. Harry Linowski WS 16:40.1; 5. Ben Merrylees U-32 16:51.2; 6. Sam Puddicombe STOWE 17:00.8; 7. Will Johnson U-32 17:12.5; 8. William McGovern STOWE 17:19.8; 9. Michael Dunkle South Royalton 17:24.1 10. Graham Melville WS 17:24.3
1. Woodstock (Zane Fields, Campbell Boswell, Graham Melville, Harry Linowski) 33:18.6 2. U-32 (Ben Merrylees, Karl Schmeckpeper, John Rahill, Will Johnson) 33:43.5 3. Middlebury (Mac Groves, Oliver Clark, Micah Lynch, Peter Livingstone) 35:49.5 4. Harwood (Brennan Degen, Phillip Hekeler, Caleb Kessler, Nathanael Kuzio) 36:15.6 5. BFA-Fairfax (Travis Yandow, Hudson Elledge, John McGuinness, Lafe Pottala) 37:02.8 6. Colchester (Ethan Thibault, Jordan Lamay, Aaron Mallabar, Nigel Sarrazin) 37:16.5 7. Stowe (William McGovern, Jannik Giebel, Max Brisben, Sam Puddicombe) 37:17.9 8. Burr and Burton (Anders Proft, Kevin Pollio, Nikolai Sands, Thomas Kittross) 37:45.0 9. Lyndon (Ayan Cole, Jack Brown, Colton Simoneau, Jasper Davis) 39:39.0 10. Craftsbury (Anders Hanson, Jacob Morse, Jared Benson, Kestrel Owens) 42:04.9
Division I Girls
1. CVU 60.0; 2. Mount Mansfield 122.0; 3. Mount Anthony 188.0; 4. BFA-SA 321.0; 5. Rutland 351.0; 6. Burlington 392.0; 7. Essex 395.0; 8. Colchester 482.0; 9. South Burlington 579.0; 10. North Country 651.0
Girls 5K Classic
1. Taylor Spillane CVU 18:04.7; 2. Chloe Levins RUT 18:26.8; 3. Autumn Eastman CVU ; 18:38.8; 4. Halie Lange BRATT 18:49.0; 5. Annavitte Rand MMU 18:52.9; 6. Aleksandra Zakrzewska SBHS 19:23.4; 7. Cally Braun CVU 19:44.6; 8. Erin Anderson MAU 19:59.7; 9. Emma Hamilton CVU 20:07.3; 10. Molly Shallow MMU 20:09.7
1. CVU (Taylor Spillane, Emma Hamilton, Cally Braun, Autumn Eastman) 36:34.8 2. MMU (Annavitte Rand, Tiana Bibb, Molly Shallow, Amy Bruce) 38:35.0 3. MAU (Becca Romac, Lauren Driscoll, Abby Malmborg, Erin Anderson) 40:06.2 4. BHS (Sabrina Farmer, Callie Flynn, Andrea Noonan, Lucy Leith) 42:50.0 5. BFA-SA (Leslie Roberts, Liz Yandow, Alison Bougeouis, Hattie Pipes) 43:02.7 6. ESSEX (Chloe Lemmel-Hay, Madison Corkum, Katie Moino, Molly Duff) 43:48.8 7. RUT (Dani Laird, Jamie Wilson, Brynn Cairns, Chloe Levins) 43:57.3 8. COLCH (Ashley Francis, Vanessa Barton, Alyse Winchester, Hannah Echo) 45:53.5 9. SBHS (Katie Merrick, Raina Langevin, Janie Merrick, Aleksandra Zakrzewska) 49:56.7 10. North Country (Haley Jo Tetreault, Laura Smith, Brianna Grimm, Jade Dandurand) 52:34.2
Division II Girls
1. Woodstock 104.0; 2. BFA-Fairfax 143.0; 3. Middlebury 146.0; 4. U-32 174.0; 5. Harwood 241.0
Girls 5K Classic
1. Carmen Bango WS 19:39.0; 2. Lydia Allen MIDD 19:58.7; 3. Colleen McGovern, STOWE 20:14.4; 4. Grace Butler HAR 20:25.8; 5. Sophie Hodges MIDD 20:26.1; 6. Julia Snyder BFAF 20:31.9; 7. Nicole Peatman BFAF 20:35.4; 8. Elizabeth Bassette WS 20:50.0; 9. Orli Schwartz U32 21:00.1; 10. Margaret Fitzgerald BFAF 21:02.1
1. BFAF (Margaret Fitzgerald, Nicole Peatman, Austen Carpenter, Julia Snyder) 40:40.2 2. WS (Elizabeth Bassette, Anna Ramsey, Christy Harris, Carmen Bango) 40:52.8 3. MIDD (Sophie Hodges, Dorothy Punderson, Kate Dapolito, Lydia Allen) 41:47.8 4. HAR (Grace Butler, Ellie Ramsey, Paige Gaylord, India Harvey) 44:09.1 5. U-32 (Orli Schwartz, Audrey Oliver, Lyra Wanzer, Eliza Merrylees) 45:16.0 6. Lamoille (Lucy Rogers, Kelly Kryzak, Marissa Dennis, Clare Salerno) 47:52.9 7. Lyndon (Cassidy Newland, Erin O’Farrell, Alex Sherbrook, Madison Brown) 51:17.3