by Jim Flint
ST. ALBANS — Vermont’s finest cross-country runners closed out the 2020 fall season Saturday at the Meet of Champions. The field of prequalified competitors included a cohort of student-athletes representing Craftsbury Academy, U-32 High School, and Danville High. Indian Summer weather conditions led to fast times on the gently rolling 5k course at the Hard’Ack Ski Area.
The Division III boys state champion, Craftsbury Academy sophomore Cormac Leahy, went into the Meet of Champions as the fourth-seeded varsity runner. Seeded ahead of Leahy were the top three D-I runners in Vermont: Brady Martisus of Essex High School, Evan Thornton-Sherman of St. Johnsbury, and Caleb Nye of Champlain Valley Union High School.
“We were confident Evan and Brady would go out hard and test one another,” said Craftsbury Academy’s head coach, Mike Levangie. “We planned for Cormac to sit in the third-place pack as they went off the front and ride there for two miles. Cormac ran perfectly to plan and took control of the pack at two miles, breaking clear by 2-1/2 miles and catching Evan as he struggled in after the fast early pace. Cormac was closing on Brady but the gap was too great.”
Martisus won the race in 16:02. Leahy captured the runner-up position in 16:28. Leahy’s extra effort with a furious final sprint notched him a personal best 5k time of 16:28. Nye placed third in 16:36. Thornton-Sherman fell back to seventh place, finishing in 16:46.
The Meet of Champions girls’ varsity race was equally competitive. Division III state champion Abby Broadley (Bellows Falls Union High School) outpaced Division II champion Ava Thurston (Harwood Union High School) for the win, 18:42 to 18:51. Maggie McGee, a Lamoille Union High School junior who trains at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, placed fifth in 19:30.
May Lamb led the U-32 High School girls with an 11th place finish. The senior from East Calais ran the 5k course in 20:03. Craftsbury Academy’s Camille Bolduc capped off her senior season with a 14th place finish, in 20:15. She completed the course four seconds faster than Alicia Veronneau, the Division-I state champion from Champlain Valley Union High.
“Camille went out strong and ran a controlled effort,” said Coach Levangie. “She will be greatly missed as an athlete and a person. Camille will be a great ambassador for our program no matter where she goes to college.”
Harwood Union won the girls team championship with 78 points (low score wins in cross country.) Champlain Valley (87 points) narrowly outpaced U-32 High School (90 points) for runner-up honors.
U-32 won the boys team championship with 36 points. Champlain Valley (97 points) and St. Johnsbury Academy (108 points) placed second and third. Craftsbury Academy finished seventh with 182 points.
Calais twins Patrick Cioffi and Leo Cioffi placed ninth and 14th respectively, out of 98 varsity boys. The U-32 seniors had close finish times of 16:50 and 17:04.
Craftsbury Academy’s Charlie Krebs placed 18th. His 5k time of 17:14 was a new personal best. He was the second-fastest sophomore in the state, behind only his teammate, Cormac Leahy. Krebs crossed the finish line in a tight pack of four athletes who were separated by only six-tenths of a second.
Peter Searls of Danville High School placed 58th. The sophomore’s finish time was 18:44. Craftsbury Academy sophomore Alan Moody placed 61st, in 18:46. Matt Califano (70th, 19:02), Alex Califano (71st, 19:06), Orion Cenkl (81st, 19:31), and Linden Stelma-Leonard (89th, 20:14) rounded out the young Craftsbury Academy squad.
“We treated the race much like a bowl game. Serious, but more for fun,” said Coach Levangie. “The opportunity to race with the best in the state was the culmination of a great season.”