Craftsbury Academy Harriers Climb in Statewide Rankings

by Jim Flint

THETFORD  ̶ Craftsbury Academy brought a record-high busload of cross country runners to the Woods Trail Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 2. Teams from across Vermont and New England participated in the iconic meet. With nearly 1,600 athletes competing across 12 races, the Chargers stood out through their performance as individuals and as a team. 

Circosta Continues Unbeaten Streak

Craftsbury Academy eighth-grader Amelia Circosta knew that she faced tough competition in the middle school girls’ race. Last November, Anna Moser of Rutland Town School nipped Circosta by a second at the 2020 state middle school championship. Although it was her first time running at Thetford, Circosta was ready for the challenge of racing with Moser and the other top middle school girls. 

Craftsbury head coach Mike Levangie encouraged Circosta to tuck in behind the leaders at the start of the 2.7-kilometer race. “If it looks like the race is yours, the one-mile mark is the time to make your move,” he said. 

Circosta executed the race plan perfectly. She surged ahead of the lead pack on cue and went full out to the finish line, winning the race by nearly 50 yards. Her time of 10:25 translated to a pace of 6:12 per mile. Moser took runner-up honors, finishing in 10:31.

Craftsbury Girls Third Among Vermont D-III Teams

Craftsbury Academy’s girls’ varsity team continued to strengthen its position on the statewide level. The Chargers placed third among Vermont’s Division III schools competing at the Woods Trail Meet. Based on scoring the first five runners for each team, the totals for the top D-III girls’ teams at the meet were Thetford (625 points), Bellows Falls (922 points), and Craftsbury (929 points).

Ninth-grader Anika Leahy led the way for Craftsbury. Running in the fastest of five heats, she finished the 5k course in 22:25. Leahy’s time placed 94th among 599 varsity girls at the meet. 

Sophomore Ava Purdy finished in 23:14. Running for the first time at Thetford, Purdy competed in the third heat. She ended up with the second-fastest time for the Charger girls. 

“Ava had her best race of the season,” said Coach Levangie. “Running on her own, she got out there and competed in the front group.”  

Ruth Krebs (23:57) and Rachel Bjerke (25:26) placed within the top 50% of finishers. Daisy Roianov (27:52) rounded out the Craftsbury girls’ squad. She paced at just under nine minutes per mile.

Charger Boys Rank Sixth Across All Divisions

A stellar effort by the Craftsbury Academy’s boys’ varsity cross-country team moved the defending D-III state champions up a notch in the statewide power rankings. The Charger boys placed ninth of 55 New England schools at the Woods Trail Meet. Within the state, the Craftsbury boys finished sixth among Vermont schools across all three divisions. 

For the first time this season, the Craftsbury boys finished in front of archrival St. Johnsbury Academy. The D-I Hilltoppers and D-III Chargers are in a head-to-head competition for a team slot at the New England Championships. The top six teams, as determined by the state meet later this month, will qualify.

Cormac Leahy returned to full race speed for the first time since twisting his knee at the Randolph Invitational on September 11. Running in the fastest heat, Leahy started the 5k race conservatively. At the halfway mark, he pounced on the pack ahead of him like a hungry catamount chasing its prey.

“Cormac moved up from 25th place to 15th place and finished smiling,” said Mike Levangie, Craftsbury’s head coach. Across five heats, Leahy’s time of 17:09 ranked 16th of 694 varsity boys. 

Charlie Krebs ran with Leahy in the fastest heat. He came across the finish line a half-second ahead of Sargent Burns of U-32 High School. Krebs’ time of 17:40 ranked 26th overall. 

“The hiker is gone and the runner is back,” said Coach Levangie, with a nod to Krebs’ Long Trail trek during July and August. “Now we’re focusing on what Charlie can really do.”

Charlie Kehler, Alan Moody, and Leo Circosta ran for Craftsbury in the second-fastest heat. Kehler made his mark as one of the top freshmen runners in Vermont. He finished just behind Andrew Thornton-Sherman of St. Johnsbury Academy. His brother Evan Thornton-Sherman won the first heat in 16:11.  

Kehler’s time of 18:27 placed fifth in the second heat. He finished in the top ten percent of varsity boys. Alan Moody (18:49) and Leo Circosta (19:03) placed in the top 20 percent of finishers.

Matt Califano (19:37) and Linden Stelma-Leonard (19:46) placed in the top 25 percent of finishers. Noah McKibben (24:02) and Dillon Cox (26:08) rounded out the Craftsbury boys’ squad. 

Craftsbury hosts a varsity home meet at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center on Wednesday. The Chargers travel to the Peoples Academy Invitational in Morrisville on Saturday.