by Ken Brown
ST. JOHNSBURY – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) track and field team got their season started off on the right foot last week with an individual win and several strong finishes in their first meet of the spring at St. Johnsbury Academy (SJA).
Anika Leahy wasted little time in validating a sensational freshman campaign for the Chargers last Tuesday, besting Randolph’s Beatrice Lake by less than a second in the 800m. Leahy won the state title in the 800m last season and was also the anchor on the 4X400m state championship relay team that included Rachel Bjerke, Sadie Skorstad, and Ida Eames. Leahy teamed up with Bjerke, Skorstad, and freshman Adelina Augsberger in the 4X400m relay on Tuesday, posting a strong runner-up finish to a SJA team that included Peggy Fischer, Willa Kantrowitz, Peyton Qualter, and Brooke White. Augsberger shined in her first ever varsity meet, finishing fifth in the 200m and seventh in the 100m event.
Northfield’s Rebecca Dupere (100m) and Beatrice Lake (200m) bested the field in each event. Junior Sadie Skorstad continued to show her versatility and strength for the Chargers in her opening meet, adding a third-place finish in the 400m, a third-place finish in the 100m hurdles, and a fifth-place finish in the long jump. Dupere added to her hardware on the day in the 400m and 100m hurdles and teammate Talia Jacobs took home the title in the long jump. First year head coach Jess Barber was impressed with her girls’ squad in their opening meet and likes their athletic versatility and the mixture of youth and experience.
“It was an awesome first meet, everyone ran and competed hard, and I was excited to see how everyone would fare with the limited training that we’ve had so far. It was a great start to Anika’s season. She is not far removed from a very busy and successful ski season and I expect that she will ramp it up even more as the weather allows us to get more meets under our belt. Adelina was awesome in her first ever varsity competition and I’m really excited to watch her take off as the season progresses,” said Barber.
On the boys’ side, the Chargers started their season with some strong finishes after a stellar 2022 that saw them capture the school’s first ever Division IV boys’ team title. Charlie Kehler earned runner-up honors in the 1500m event behind SJA’s Andrew Thornton-Sherman. Thornton-Sherman is quickly following in his brother’s (Evan) footsteps, who graduated last spring as the Burlington Free Press’ Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Cormac Leahy also claimed a runner-up finish for CA in the 3000m behind SJA’s Carson Eames, with Kehler finishing a respectable third. The 4X400m relay team of Alan Moody, Silas Hunt, Linden Stelma-Leonard, and Calvin Cacciamani also claimed runner-up honors behind the dominant Hilltopper team of Sisu Lange, Emmet Cusack, Cian Nott, and Ari Levin.
The Chargers also posted a runner-up finish to SJA in the 4X800m relay with Moody, Kehler, Alex Califano, and Matthew Califano. Moody and Hunt also posted impressive fourth place finishes in the 400m and 800m events. SJA’s Andrew Bugbee and Gerardo Fernandez took home the title in each event. Roean McLellan capped off a strong start to the season for the Chargers with a third-place finish in the shot put and a fourth-place finish in the discus. Charlie Krebs was part of the CA 4X800m relay team that set the Division IV state record in consecutive weeks last season, but is now a Hilltopper this spring. Krebs adds even more fire power to a Division I Hilltopper team that has claimed the state title two years in a row.
“These guys are a confident group and they were not intimidated by a great SJA division I team. They all know each other very well and have trained and competed with one another for a long time. Both teams push one another and root for each other and it was great to watch. We’ll be missing some key pieces for a week or so with the dual athletes we have on the team and we hope to get another meet in if the weather allows before spring break,” said Barber.
The Chargers were scheduled to travel to Champlain Valley Union this past Tuesday if the weather cooperated.