story and photos by Jim Flint
RANDOLPH CENTER ‒ Craftsbury’s “Fab Five” beamed with pride Saturday morning at Vermont Technical College. For the first time ever, the Charger girls scored as a team at a cross country meet. Competing against Division I, II, and III schools, Craftsbury Academy placed eighth of 13 full teams ‒ and first among Division III schools at the Randolph Invitational.
The team score in cross country is determined by adding up the finish places for the first five runners on each team. The sixth and seventh runners on a team can also influence the scoring by displacing scoring runners from other teams. The lowest team score wins.
A huge field of 175 girls competed in the 5k race. Harwood Union High School won the team competition with 31 points. The Charger girls scored 219 points ‒ between Division I Rutland High School (186 points) and Division II Mount Abraham (261 points).
Ninth-graders Anika Leahy (25th) and Ruth Krebs (31st) led the Craftsbury charge with personal best 5k times of 21:56 and 22:15. Sophomore Ava Purdy finished 67th in her first-ever meet. Her time was 24:25. Junior Rachel Bjerke was also in the top half of the finishers, placing 80th in 24:25. Running in her first cross country meet, Sophomore Daisy Roianov came across the line in 28:05 to the cheers of her teammates.
Leahy, Krebs, and Bjerke kicked off the varsity season for Craftsbury on September 4 at the Essex Invitational. Leahy placed 45th in a field of 106 runners. Krebs and Bjerke finished 51st and 81st, respectively. After a year of running races without spectators, having a cheering crowd was a new dynamic for the team.
“Stay tuned,” said third-year head coach Mike Levangie. “Our Craftsbury Academy cross country women are making people pay attention.”