THETFORD – After watching the girls celebrate titles the last six seasons, the Champlain Valley Union boys cross country team got in on the act Saturday with a dominating performance at the Division I championships at Thetford Academy.
The Redhawks scored an astoundingly low 19 points to cruise to their first boys title since 1999.
The CVU girls then overcame a little adversity in the form of an injury to one of its top runners — Julie Sulva — but the program’s undeniable depth came to the rescue and the Redhawks cruised to their seventh straight title.
“We knew we were capable of this,” said CVU coach Scott Bliss, referring to the fact that the wins were the first time the Redhawk boys and girls teams were able to win titles on the same day. “It feels good. We told the kids to not change anything they have been doing all year.”
The win for the boys, keyed by fleet-footed junior Tyler Marshall, was as eye-popping as it was welcome for a team that had developed a reputation as just good enough to finish second.
The Redhawks placed five in the first seven finishers, easily securing the title over its nearest competitor, South Burlington (48 points).
“It was a lot harder than it looked out there. I think we just trained really well this year and it’s all led up to this,” said Marshall, who won the individual title by almost 18 seconds over teammate Calvin McClellan, finishing the course in a time of 17:04.2.
South Burlington’s Trevor Houchens finished third, followed by CVU’s Baxter Bishop and Elliot Eastman. Matt Davis of Essex was sixth, followed closely by CVU’s fifth runner, Harken Spillane.
“We were hoping to (win) this year. I think we all did pretty good,” said Marshall. “It’s awesome. We’ve come in second almost every year (recently).”
“I’m so happy for Tyler,” said Bliss. “He was in the lead by the time we went into the woods and he stayed there. It’s a hard way to race.”
The CVU girls did their part to help make some school history with relative ease, taking the team title by 38 points (37-75) over second place Essex.
CVU junior Sophia Gorman won the individual title in a time of 19:30, five seconds ahead of Stratton’s Katharine Ogden.
“I felt really good at the beginning,” said Gorman, who was second last year. “I wanted to pace myself in the middle and not try to win the first 2K. But it was going really slow and so after the first K I started to accelerate. There were some of us going back and fourth through the third and fourth Ks, but on the way down from Morty’s I just went for 20 seconds and that was it. I still had to fight, but that was where I got them.”
Burlington’s Sophie Watterson was third, CVU’s Jennifer Ireland was fourth and Essex’s Emma Farrington was fifth.
Meara Heininger (sixth), Ella Whitman (11th) and Haley Harder (15th) also scored for the Redhawks, who won their seventh straight Division I title and their 12th crown since 2003.
“We came here today wanting all four titles,” said Gorman. “Obviously, we came into the meet as ready as we could be so we just needed to be positive today and let whatever was going to happen, happen. I’m really proud of my teammates. They did great. We kicked (butt).”