story and photos by Jim Flint
RANDOLPH CENTER ‒ The Wildcats’ cross-country coach, Netdahe Stoddard, was all smiles Saturday as he encouraged Hazen Union and Craftsbury Academy runners at the Randolph Invitational. The two local teams shared the bus ride to Vermont Technical College, along with a tangible spirit of friendship and collaboration.
The Royer sisters, Jessica and Cassandra, represented the Wildcats in the girls’ varsity race. Cassandra had her fastest time of the season on the challenging 5k course. The sophomore standout placed 50th in 23:28. Jessica, who is a senior, was close behind in 60th place. She set a new personal best 5k time of 24:08.
At the U-32 High School invitational on September 7, Cassandra placed seventh in 24:26. Jessica finished 17th in 24:47. At the Essex Invitational on September 4, Cassandra placed 62nd in 23:44. Jessica finished 73rd, in 25:01. Ella Considine placed 93rd for the Wildcats, in 28:30.
Three Wildcat varsity boys set personal-best marks at the Randolph Invitational. Sophomore Khamden Luangrath led the way for Hazen Union with a 22:57 finish in the 5k. Senior Carter Hill is also steadily improving with each race. He came across the finish line in 24:33. Sophomore Tobias Benson shaved four minutes off his previous fastest 5k time. He finished in 35:02.
Luangrath, Hill, and Benson are in their first year of varsity competition for the Wildcats. Luangrath ran cross country as an eighth-grader. Hill transitioned this year from soccer to cross country. Benson is new to the sport. With each meet, the Wildcat boys gain endurance and confidence as runners.
Coach Stoddard has an ambitious schedule planned. The Wildcats traveled to Newport on Tuesday to run in the Kingdom Cup. On Saturday, Sept. 18, Hazen Union will compete at the U-32 Invitational, followed by a NVAC meet at Blue Mountain on September 21.