by Matthew Califano, community journalist
THETFORD — The signature pink shorts of Craftsbury Academy’s Cross-Country team were seen throughout the events of the 32nd Annual Woods Trail Run as the Chargers enter their final weeks of training and preparation for the Division III State Championship. In total, six of Craftsbury’s boys participated in races that drew over 650 runners from as far afield as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Head coach Mike LeVangie called the races a “great opportunity to display some of our growth and get … to do so on the state championship course.”
And display growth they did. Owen McKibben, Cole McNaughton, and Theo Alexander, all newcomers to the sport, ran personal bests at one of New England’s most difficult courses. McKibben, a sophomore running in the Fourth Seed Race, ran almost a minute and a half faster than his previous best, placing 111th with a time of 25:55 in a five-kilometer race.
McNaughton, who will be graduating from Craftsbury this coming spring, placed 122nd in the Fifth Seed Race with a time of 34:12. While McNaughton has been an active member of Craftsbury’s Track-and-Field team, this is his first year running cross-country’s long distances.
Theo Alexander, a freshman, marked his cross-country debut with a 113th place finish in the Fourth Seed Race. His time of 27:25 was encouraging, and his teammates “hope that he will continue to pursue the sport” in the years to come.
Soren Stelma-Leonard, a freshman (and the brother of former Charger Linden Stelma-Leonard), achieved a personal best in the Fourth Seed Race. He placed 83rd with a time of 23:23.
Academy senior Silas Hunt worked his way into a fourth place in the Third Seed Race. Hunt, who is recovering from a brief illness, noted the challenging circumstances but was encouraged by his performance.
Also recovering from sickness, Charlie Kehler, the returning D-III State Champion, placed 50th in the First Seed Race with a time of 18:32.