Wildcats Strengthen Cross-Country Squads

by Jim Flint
photo by Vanessa Fournier | Hazen Union varsity girls who competed in the Craftsbury Invitational on October 6 (from left): Edie McKenzie, Ella Considine, Lisa Velten and Cassandra Royer.

CRAFTSBURY / MORRISVILLE ‒ Hazen Union’s girls varsity cross-country team competed in the Craftsbury Invitational on October 6 and at the Peoples Academy Invitational on October 9. Strengthened by racing the hilly course at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, several runners went on to set new personal best marks on the flat and fast course at Peoples Academy.

photo by Vanessa Fournier Hazen Union exchange student Lisa Velten competed in her first cross-country races at the Craftsbury Invitational on October 6 and the Peoples Academy Invitational on October 9. Velten is one of seven runners for the Wildcat varsity girls.

Sophomore Cassandra Royer led the way for the Wildcat girls. At the Peoples Academy Invitational, she placed fourth of 33 finishers. Her 5k time of 22:21 was a new personal best. At Craftsbury, Royer placed 11th of 84 finishers. Her time for the hilly course at the Outdoor Center was 23:59. 

“Cassandra has been working hard,” said Netdahe Stoddard, the head coach for the Wildcats. “She used a different strategy at the Peoples Academy Invitational to push for better performance. She finished ahead of runners who were ahead of her earlier in the season.”

Hazen Union exchange student Lisa Velten crossed over from the Wildcat’s soccer team to give cross country a try. Running her first race at the Craftsbury Invitational, she placed 30th in 26:58. 

With the hilly course under her belt, Velten cruised on the flat course at the Peoples Academy Invitational. Her time of 24:19 placed 15th and set a personal best mark.  

Hazen Union senior Jessica Royer ran with Velten at the Peoples Academy Invitational. Velten pushed the pace in the first half of the race. Royer stayed with her teammate then pulled away to finish in 13th place. Royer’s 5k time of 24:09 was just a second off her personal best.   

“Lisa is a sprinter in track and field,” said Netdahe Stoddard, the head coach for the Wildcats. “Jessica is stronger in the second part of a race. The girls are not intimidated by the hills; they like to compete.”

Ella Considine and Edie McKenzie also ran in both invitationals. Considine’s finish time of 26:11 at Peoples Academy was a new personal best. Her 5k time at Craftsbury was 29:36. McKenzie set a new personal best time of 30:30 at the Peoples Academy Invitational. She finished the Craftsbury race in 33:46.

Marta Mas Garrigo and Eleonora Andrenelli rounded out Hazen Union’s seven-woman squad at the Peoples Academy Invitational. Their respective times of 28:17 and 32:10 were also personal bests.

Wildcat Boys Pull Together 

by Vanessa Fournier | The Hazen Union boys’ varsity team has grown in strength and solidarity during the fall season. Pictured (from left to right): Tobias Benson, Khamden Luangrath, Liam Jurkiewicz and Carter Hill.

Hazen Union’s boys’ cross-country team gained momentum last week, competing in the Craftsbury Invitational and Peoples Academy Invitational. Weather conditions were pleasant for both meets, with temperatures on the warmer side at Craftsbury on October 6 and cooler at Morrisville on October 9. 

Liam Jurkiewicz and Carter Hill raced the hilly 5k course at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Running in his first meet of the season, Jurkiewicz placed 31st of 98 varsity boys. His time was 22:22. Hill went the distance in 26 minutes flat. 

Khamden Luangrath led the Wildcat boys at the Peoples Academy meet. His time of 22 minutes flat was a new personal best. Carter Hill was the second fastest finisher for the Wildcats, in 24:42. 

Tobias Benson ran the Peoples Academy course in 29:58, which was a new personal best. Benson has shown the most improvement of any Wildcat. Since the season started, he has trimmed nearly ten minutes off his 5k race time.

Wildcat Middle School Runner Wins Again

Thomas Kehler blazed to his third middle school victory of the season Saturday at the Peoples Academy Invitational. Teammate Manny Fliegelman was not far back. The Wildcat seventh graders placed first and seventh out of 48 middle school boys. 

Kehler and Fliegelman ran together for the first part of the race. They stutter-stepped around taller runners to avoid getting caught in a bottleneck at the first bridge. By the time the lead runners emerged from the woods, Kehler was in first place. Fliegleman was in the middle of the chase pack.

“Thomas has a ridiculous stride and great cardiovascular conditioning,” said head coach Netdahe Stoddard. “His form is efficient and he is light and easy on his feet. Thomas has fun, is polite around other racers, and enjoys what he is doing. He slowly swims his way to the front and then separates out.”

Kehler won the race in 11:35. Luke Slesar of Stowe was the runner-up, ten seconds back. Fliegelman crossed the finish line in 12:30. The Wildcat boys set new personal best times for the 3k distance.