CRAFTSBURY – For high school cross country skiing there are no playoffs; it all comes down to two days of racing. On day one last Wednesday at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, skiers from over 25 high schools statewide came together for the freestyle or skate events. In the morning, racers set off every 15 seconds in the 5 km individual race. It is the skier against the clock with no one to pace with. The course was a two lap 2.5km loop with three sizeable climbs making for a challenging course. Division 1 and 2 teams ski at the same time with results separated out afterwards.
Charlie Kehler (Craftsbury Academy) led the local skiers with a fourth-place finish in D2 (fifth overall in 12:13). Luke Rizio (Mount Anthony) had the fastest time of the day in 11:37. Leo Circosta (Hazen) placed fifth (12:20) in D2 and Cormac Leahy (CA) was sixth (12:25). Silas Hunt (CA) placed 20th, a big jump from last year when he was in the 30s. Other D2 finishers included Max Demaine (Lake Region) 31st and Lenny Stelma-Leonard (CA) 62nd. Charlie Krebs (St. Johnsbury) placed 10th in D1. In the girls races, Ruth Krebs (St. Johnsbury) skied to second place in D1 (14:12). Amelia Circosta (Hazen) finished a strong third (13:54) in D2 despite fighting illness. Six of the top eight skiers were D2 with Beth McIntosh (Middlebury) skiing the fastest time of the day (13:32). Anika Leahy (CA) placed seventh in D2 with Sadie Skorstad (CA) in 37th.
In the afternoon, the top four skiers from each school joined together for some of the most exciting racing of the season in the team relays. Mount Anthony showed their depth winning the overall and D1 race in 25:21 nearly 30 seconds ahead of Mount Mansfield Union. In the D2 race, Middlebury was first (second overall) followed by Woodstock, Montpelier, and Craftsbury. Lenny Stelma-Leonard bravely skied first for the CA boys knowing he’d be the slow leg of the day after being sick much of the season. The boys sat in ninth place among D2 schools when Lenny tagged off to Cormac Leahy. Leahy had the fastest split of the second leg skiers bringing the team up to fourth place where they stayed the rest of the race. Silas Hunt held the team steady in the third leg and Charlie Kehler anchored and caught St. Johnsbury bringing the CA boys to seventh overall including the D1 teams. In the girls’ race, CA only had two varsity skiers, so could not field a team. The Circosta siblings could also not be in the relay being the only Hazen Union skiers. Unlike team sports, cross country skiing is considered an individual sport by the VPA (despite their being a team score and a relay team), and skiers from schools without official teams like Hazen, cannot join nearby schools like Craftsbury to make a larger team. In the girls relay, Burlington won the D1 race and Middlebury was first in D2.
Racing action continues on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Rikert Touring Center in Ripton for the classic events.
Craftsbury Academy Graduate Headed to NCAA Championships
LAKE PLACID – Finn Sweet, Craftsbury Academy ’19, finished sixth overall in the EISA college circuit after six weekends of racing. He’ll be headed back to Lake Placid in two weeks for the NCAA Championships. Only 13 skiers qualify from the east coast region in this highly competitive event. Jack Young from North Country finished 18th overall. Despite several top 10 finishes in the season, he finished just outside the NCAA qualifying mark. Finn and Jack have skied together for over a decade as part of the Craftsbury Ski Club. Sweet is now at UVM and Young is at Colby College.