by Jim Flint
ST. JOHNSBURY ̶ Ava Purdy, from Greensboro, and Ruth Krebs, from Craftsbury, are cross country teammates again, running for St. Johnsbury Academy. Purdy, a senior, and Krebs, a junior, are joined on the Hilltoppers team by Finn Burgess, from Greensboro. Burgess is a sophomore transfer from Hazen Union.
Purdy and Krebs ran together for Craftsbury Academy in 2021. The girls transitioned to St. Johnsbury Academy in 2022. Purdy was a mainstay on the Hilltoppers girls varsity cross country and track and field teams last year, while Krebs took the year off from competitive sports. Burgess competed in cross country and track and field as a ninth-grader at Hazen Union.
The three local girls bolster the talented 22-member Hilltoppers girls cross country team. St. Johnsbury Academy placed fifth at the 2022 Division I girls state championships. They also qualified for the 2022 New England Championships as one of the top six Vermont teams across three divisions.
The Hilltoppers kicked off their season on September 9 with the Paul Letarte Race, at Great Glen, N.H. Krebs got out to a fast start behind Elli Englund, from Plymouth Regional, and Millie Larrick, from Hanover.
Running in third place, Krebs was out of sight of the two leaders and well ahead of the chase pack. Adversity struck when she missed a turn in the course. While the alternate route Krebs took returned to the course and maintained her position, the end result was a disqualification.
Krebs shrugged off the opening meet setback and looked ahead. St. Johnsbury Academy hosted a NVAC Mountain Division meet on September 13. Krebs took off from the start and moved into the lead. She cruised the hilly 5k course in 22:26 for her first win in a high school cross country meet.
The Hilltoppers swept the first five places to defeat Lyndon Institute, 15 to 48. Low score wins in cross country. Samantha Hensel was the top finisher for the Vikings. She placed sixth in 23:46. Ava Purdy (23:59) finished seventh for St. Johnsbury Academy.
Purdy, along with Finn Burgess, competed in the junior varsity division at the Paul Letarte Race on September 9. Purdy’s time of 23:54 placed fourth of 56 entries. Burgess placed 39th with a personal best 5k time of 30:32.
The Hilltoppers returned to competition on Tuesday, September 19, at the Kingdom Cup, held in Derby.