by Jim Flint
Cross country teams from the greater Hardwick area showed mid-season resilience in their quest to rebound from challenges and attain their goals. Sidelined runners returned to action last week, while new recruits filled in the gaps with promising performances.
Chargers at Family Farm Meet
RICHFORD ̶ The Craftsbury Academy boys raced a seven-man varsity squad at the Choiniere Family Farm Meet on Saturday. Four Charger harriers placed among the top 10 in the 42-runner field. Led by sophomore Charlie Kehler, the Chargers posted 25 points to win the meet handily. Host Richford High School finished a distant second with 51 points.
Richford senior John Viens outdistanced the field to win the 5k race in 17:19. He was followed across the finish line by three Chargers: Kehler (17:56), Alex Califano (18:23), and Matt Califano (18:39).
Silas Hunt (20:16) and Calvin Cacciamani (21:13) placed sixth and eleventh for Craftsbury. The meet was Cacciamani’s first varsity race as a Charger.
Linden Stelma-Leonard (24:31) and Cormac Leahy (24:51) rounded out the Craftsbury boys squad. The meet was Leahy’s first time back in competition since injuring his foot at the end of the spring track season.
Five Craftsbury Academy girls raced at Richford. Anika Leahy kicked off her 2022 season with a third-place finish among 30 varsity girls. Leahy, who also plays soccer for Craftsbury, conquered the 5k course in 23:38. Rachel Bjerke placed 12th in 26:52. Verna Stoddard (34:24) ran a new personal best time.
Wildcat Middle Schoolers Show Strength
STOWE ̶ Hazen Union cross country coach Netdahe Stoddard brought a cohort of middle schoolers to the Stowe meet on Saturday. Competing on a sunny fall morning, the Wildcat boys placed third among five teams. Host Stowe Middle School won the meet with 19 points, followed by Vergennes (71 points) and Hazen Union (75 points).
Thomas Kehler led the Wildcats with a fourth-place finish among 47 boys. His time for the 1.6-mile course was 10:27. Manny Fliegelman (11:14), Daniel Pougnier (11:22), Bryce Laraway (12:27), and Losada Stoddard (13:27) rounded out the Wildcat boys’ team effort.
Carli Abbott was the sole Wildcat entrant in the middle school girls race. Her time of 13:30 placed 16th of 31 runners.
Twinfield Harriers at Danville Meet
DANVILLE ̶ Danville High hosted Twinfield Union High, Peoples Academy, and Oxbow in a four-way cross country meet on Monday. In the girls 5k varsity race, Danville senior Lilley Anderson finished first in 27:43. Twinfield juniors Camryn Hoffman and Hanna Holzl placed second and fifth. Their times were 27:11 and 38:41. Ninth-grader Brooklyn Maxfield completed her first 5k race for Twinfield in 48:57.
Danville senior Peter Searls edged out Twinfield senior Ethan Parrish, 21:30 to 21:42, to win the boys varsity race. Sam Sainz completed the 5k course in 27:59 to place 15th of 21 finishers.
Vermont Rivals Compete at Manchester Invitational
MANCHESTER, N.H. ̶ High school harriers with home town roots in Calais and Craftsbury competed Saturday at the prestigious Manchester Invitational. Charlie Krebs, from Craftsbury, ran in his first race as a St. Johnsbury Hilltopper. Sargent Burns and Amy Felice, from Calais, competed for the U-32 High School Raiders.
The U-32 High School girls ran in the Small School Division. Amy Felice of U-32 and Charlie Flint of Harwood were the top Vermont finishers, placing 11th and 12th in the race. Their times were 20:21 and 20:22. The U-32 girls topped the Small Schools Division with 137 points. The Harwood girls placed fourth with 202 points. At last year’s Vermont D-II state championship, Harwood and U-32 tied on points, with the state title going to Harwood based on the finish position of the sixth runner.
The Large School Division showcased the Vermont rivalry between the St. Johnsbury Academy boys and the U-32 High School boys. Each team won a Vermont state cross country championship in 2021, St. Johnsbury in D-I and U-32 in D-II. U-32 went on to win the New England Championship.
The St. Johnsbury Academy boys (250 points) placed seventh of 34 teams at the Manchester Invitational. The U-32 boys placed ninth with 291 points. Avery Smart of Montpelier High School was the top Vermont harrier. He finished the 5k course in 16:16 to place sixth of 228 finishers.
Andrew Thornton-Sherman led the Hilltoppers, finishing 12th in 16:32. Cyrus Hansen was the fastest U-32 finisher. He crossed the line in 16:33 to place 14th. Sargent Burns finished 64th for the Raiders in 17:30. Charlie Krebs placed 101st for St. Johnsbury in 18:06. Krebs, a senior transfer student, is rebounding from an early September bout with COVID-19.