Tiger runners win tune-up

SWANTON — At Missisquoi on Saturday, the Middlebury Union High School girls’ and boys’ cross-country teams breezed to wins at the Metro Conference small-school championships, at which also individual runners from Mount Abraham and Vergennes fared well.
The top four Tiger girls ran 1-2-3-5 in the small-school standings to secure the win, and junior Emily Anderson was the small-school champion in 19:49.10.
Their point totals were merged with the large schools for scoring purposes, and the MUHS girls tallied 141, 100 points better than second-place BFA-Fairfax.
The Mount Abe girls, led by Natalie May in 12th, were sixth in team scoring with 348 points. VUHS, as has been the case all fall, lacked enough runners to score as a team, but Daisy Alexander led four Commodore girls by taking 10th in the small-school race.
Defending Division II champion Harwood, probably the favorite and certainly the Tigers’ main competition in the D-II girls’ state meet this Saturday at Thetford, was not in Swanton last weekend. It hosted and ran in the NVAC Capital Division championships and finished second to D-I St. Johnsbury, 37-54.
The Tiger boys, quite possibly the favorite in D-II at Thetford, also did not face the defending champion Harwood boys, who also took second to St. Johnsbury on their home course, 23-91.
The MUHS boys had little trouble on Saturday. The top four Tigers ran 2-5-7-15, led by Stuart Guertin in second. MUHS scored 38 points in results that were not mixed with large-school runners, 30 points better than second-place Missisquoi.
The Mount Abe boys, led by a third-place finish by Malcolm Plunkett, who is rounding back into form after a midseason injury, took fourth at 109. Vergennes, led by Shep Carter in fourth place, was fifth at 127.
First-year Tiger coach Emily Marquart said even without Harwood there she was happy with the efforts of her teams, which included many personal best times over the 5-kilometer course.
“The team is looking very good,” Marquart said. “It was good to have a really strong performance this week. It’s great momentum to carry into the states.”
All the teams will gather at the challenging, hilly Thetford Academy course this Saturday for the state meet. Although Tigers have won two individual titles — Amanda Bodette earlier this decade was the D-I girls’ champion, and Anderson is the defending D-II girls’ champion — MUHS has never won a team title.
Marquart said the Tiger boys have a terrific chance. Stuart and Neil Guertin and William Conlon have posted a number of top-10 efforts, and Sawyer Hescock has been a steady No. 4. Three runners have traded off finishing as the final Tiger point-scorer, and the Tigers have consistently edged Harwood for the top spot in D-II this fall.
Marquart said the boys’ team also has its eye on another goal that has eluded MUHS: If they finish in the top six regardless of division, they will qualify for the New England meet on Nov. 7, also in Thetford.
“They’re setting their goals high. They’re definitely extremely motivated to get the state title, but they’re also motivated to get to the New Englands,” she said.
Marquart said the girls’ team has steadily improved, with the two-three-four trio of Christine Artim, Emma Ryan and Elise Biette steadily dropping their times. If each has a good day and No. 5 Nicole Morris runs to her ability, Marquart said, the Tigers could finally close that small gap between them and the Highlanders.
“The potential is there. It’s definitely all of them together. It’s going to be a joint effort on all of their parts to catch one more Harwood girl than they have in the past,” she said.
The top runners for each local girls’ team this past Saturday were:
1. Emily Anderson, MUHS, 19:49.1.
2. Christine Artim, MUHS, 20:33.6.
3. Emma Ryan, MUHS, 21:11.1.
5. Elise Biette, MUHS, 21:25.6.
10. Daisy Alexander, VUHS, 22:17.6.
12. Natalie May, MAU, 22:38.2.
13. Alia Johnson, MAU, 22:53.0.
16. Nicole Morris, MUHS, 22:57.9.
24. Patience Thompson, MAU, 24:10.3.
31. Hannah Sturtevant, VUHS, 24:48.3.
32. Ann Clancy, VUHS, 25:10.5.
42. Hannah DeGraaf, VUHS, 26:28.3.
44. Emily Friend, MAU, 26:31.0.
50. Gaylen Alexander, MAU, 27:00.1.
The top runners for each local boys’ team this past Saturday were:
2. Stuart Guertin, MUHS, 16:53.4.
3. Malcolm Plunkett, MAU, 16:57.4.
4. Shep Carter, VUHS, 17:20.5.
5. Neil Guertin, MUHS, 17:31.4.
7. William Conlon, MUHS, 17:57.1.
8. Isaac Prescott, MAU, 18:03.2.
9. Sawyer Hescock, MUHS, 18:08.4.
15. Griffin Wood, MUHS, 18:31.5.
18. David Clancy, VUHS, 18:57.6.
22. Erin Cassels-Brown, MAU, 19:00.5.
29. Damian Chamberlain, VUHS, 19:25.1.
33. Mark Dickerson, MAU, 19:50.9.
37. Ben Parsons, VUHS, 19:59.3.
39. Jon Welch, VUHS, 20:06.8.
45. Kenny Micklas, MAU, 20:28.0.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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