Charger Runners Win Three Races at Bear Invitational

by Jim Flint

Cross-Country Team @ Bear Invitational

photo by Mike Levangie | The Craftsbury Academy cross-country team competed in the Bear Invitational on September 21 in Northfield. Pumpkins were awarded to the top three finishers in each division (front row, left to right): Ruth Krebs (second place varsity girl), Amelia Circosta (first place middle school girl), Anika Leahy (first place varsity girl), Cormac Leahy (first place varsity boy), Charlie Kehler (second place varsity boy), Charlie Krebs (third place varsity boy). Back row, left to right: Linden Stelma-Leonard, Dillon Cox, Alan Moody, Rachel Bjerke, Noah McKibben, Daisy Roianov, Leo Circosta.

Middle Schooler Sets Course Record

NORTHFIELD – Amelia Circosta is Craftsbury Academy’s lone middle school girl cross country runner. Circosta, who is home-schooled, trains with the Charger varsity runners. The eighth-grader is unbeatable so far this season. Circosta won her second middle school race on September 21 at the Bear Invitational. She set a new middle school girls record of 13:58 on the challenging 1.8-mile course. Harwood Union’s Pippa Diller was the closest finisher to Circosta. She placed second in 16:13.

Charger Girls Place Three Runners in Top Seven

NORTHFIELD – Craftsbury Academy’s Anika Leahy, Ruth Krebs, Rachel Bjerke, and Daisy Roianov competed for the Chargers at the Bear Invitational on September 21. Leahy and Krebs finished first and second in the girls’ varsity 5k race. Leahy set a new course record of 23:17. Krebs was a close second. She crossed the finish line in 23:43. Rachel Bjerke placed a strong seventh out of 23 finishers. Her time was 27:06. Daisy Roianov rounded out the squad. She finished 15th in 30:57.

Craftsbury Boys Record First Perfect Score

NORTHFIELD – The Craftsbury Academy boys continued their stellar season at the Bear Invitational on September 21. Competing against four other schools, the defending D-III state champion Chargers claimed the top five positions in the race. Craftsbury’s team score added up to a perfect 15 points, the lowest possible tally in a sport where the low score wins.

Cormac Leahy led the way for Craftsbury, winning his first meet of the season. He finished the 5k race in 17:36, setting a new course record. Leahy was followed across the line by teammates Charlie Kehler (18:31), Charlie Krebs (19:07), Alan Moody (19:37), and Leo Circosta (20:09), who took the second, third, fourth, and fifth places, respectively.

Leahy already held the Bear Invitational’s middle school course record. Running for the Hazen Union Wildcats on September 18, 2018, Leahy finished the 1.8-mile middle school course in 12:48. He notched a hard-fought victory that day over U-32’s Sargent Burns.

Ann Bushey coaches Northfield’s cross-country team. Bushey shared that Northfield students and coaches built a new trail for the race, starting about eight years ago. A bear kept showing up during the first year of the project. The Bear Invitational was named in honor of the forest bruin.

“Definitely a pun,” said Bushey. “The course is a bear for sure. Super steep, usually muddy, and always rooty. We have a lot of fun hosting the meet, and I feel like only the grittiest teams enjoy coming back year after year. Our team is super proud of their work on the course. Most teams have an athletic director and maintenance people who clear trails, mark the course, and host a meet. Ours is done entirely by our team and coaches.”

Linden Stelma-Leonard placed 15th for Craftsbury Academy. His time was 21:59. Junior Noah McKibben (24:47) and sophomore Dillon Cox (27:44) competed in their first meet as Chargers. McKibben is an exchange student from Italy.

Lamoille Union High School (51 points), Harwood Union (63 points), Northfield (102 points) and Oxbow High School (140 points) finished behind Craftsbury in the scoring of varsity boys’ teams. The Craftsbury Academy boys are currently ranked first in D-III and seventh in the state across all three divisions.