by Jim Flint
MONTPELIER – After a two-year pandemic pause, the Montpelier Mile returned on July 3 to kick off the Capital City’s Independence Day parade. The last time the iconic race was held, in 2019, Evan Thornton-Sherman placed fifth in 4:46.5. Three years later, the 18-year-old St. Johnsbury Academy graduate was poised to go after a new course record.
The existing Montpelier Mile mark of 4:21.9 was set in 2019 by Cullin Burdett, a graduate student at Boston University. Although Burdett did not return to defend his record, Andrew Crompton of Barre was on the starting line.
Crompton was the 2019 Montpelier Mile runner-up, in 4:27.6. The former U-32 High School star is now a rising senior at the University of Vermont. In February, Crompton ran a 4:14.95 indoor mile for the Catamounts.
Thornton-Sherman competed in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals last month in Philadelphia. In the final race of his high school career, he finished the mile run in 4:13.27.
The temperature neared 80 degrees in Montpelier on July 3. A light breeze picked up just before the 6 p.m. race. The starting line on State Street was set for a thrilling contest between two of Vermont’s fastest milers.
Thornton-Sherman wasted no time getting out in front. He was the first runner to reach the corner of State and Main streets. By the half-way roundabout on Main Street, he held a comfortable lead on Crompton. Thornton-Sherman sprinted back on Main, turned the corner onto State Street, and stormed the finish line in 4:18.7. Crompton repeated as runner-up, in 4:33.3.
Avery Smart, a rising Montpelier High School senior, finished third in 4:49.8. Andrew Thornton-Sherman, a rising sophomore at St. Johnsbury Academy, placed fourth in 4:52.8.
Erin Magill, a Harwood Union High School grad, won the women’s division in 5:16.3. Magill competes in track and field and cross country for Brandeis University. Craftsbury’s Audrey Mangan was the runner-up in 5:37.4. Her brother, Stephen Mangan, placed seventh in the men’s division, in 5:01.6.
Several local senior runners ran the Montpelier Mile. Adamant’s Donna Smyers won the women’s 60-69 age group. Her time of 7:19.2 placed 70th of 249 finishers. Mack Gardner-Morse of Calais was the men’s 60-69 age group winner. He skillfully navigated the crowded field and surged to the finish in 6:19.2.
Tim Hogeboom of Walden won the M70-79 age group. His time of 7:31.8 outdistanced the nearest age-group competitor by 90 seconds. Elizabeth McCarthy of Walden, who is married to Hogeboom, finished in 8:40.3. She placed second in the F60-69 age group. Kathleen Swigon of Plainfield, placed third in the F60-69 age group. Her time was 10:51.7.
The Montpelier Mile is a classic race, attracting runners of all ages. Five members of the Thornton-Sherman family, in addition to Evan and Andrew, ran in the July 3 event. Myles (5:39), Joel (5:42), and John (6:18) placed 17th, 20th, and 30th, respectively. Parents Dan Sherman (7:23) and Jessica Thornton-Sherman (8:52) rounded out the family effort.
Evan Thornton-Sherman was awarded a $200 check from Onion River Outdoors for winning the quarter-mile dash for cash, finishing first in the mile, and breaking the course record. To maintain his amateur status, Thornton-Sherman signed the check over to Central Vermont Runners, which helped to coordinate the race.
The Montpelier Mile capped a big week for Thornton-Sherman. On June 29, he was honored with the 2021-2022 Gatorade High School Track and Field student-athlete award for Vermont. The award included a $1,000 grant for a nonprofit of the athlete’s choosing.
Thornton-Sherman selected Central Vermont Runners as the grant recipient. CVR provides mini-grants to support youth running programs in the greater Montpelier area. Craftsbury Academy’s cross country and track teams, and Craftsbury Girls on the Run, are among the local running programs that have benefited from CVR support.
Thornton-Sherman is entering college this fall as a scholarship athlete. He has signed with the University of Maine to compete in NCAA Division I cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track and field. The Black Bears are in the America East Conference with the University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, University of Maryland Baltimore County, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Albany, University of Hartford, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.