OVUHS runner back at school after assault

RUTLAND — A female member of the Otter Valley Union High School cross-country team was attacked before a Marble Valley League race that was scheduled for this past Tuesday at Rutland’s Giorgetti Park.
According to a Rutland Heraldaccount, police said the girl, who they did not identify, was treated at the Rutland Regional Medical Center after she ran from the woods bleeding from her head.
OVUHS Principal Jim Avery said the student — he also declined to identify her — was back in school on Wednesday.
“The girl is doing well. She has returned to school,” Avery said. “She is a great kid and a conscientious student. She wanted to get back to school.”
According to the Herald, police conducted a “massive” search of the park’s wooded area for “a suspect who was described as wearing a baseball cap.” There was no report police had found anyone as of late on Wednesday afternoon.
Avery said the athlete was assaulted when she was jogging and conducting a typical pre-race look at the course just before the race’s scheduled 4:30 p.m. start. Organizers of the meet, which had been moved from Arlington because of damage to that school’s course from Tropical Storm Irene, quickly called it off.
Avery said he, OVUHS cross-country coach Jim Samler and a school guidance counselor met with the athlete on Wednesday, and that her teammates were rallying around her.
“It’s a small team. Certainly, everyone is there for her, and they are thinking of ways to support her,” Avery said.
OVUHS is scheduled to host an MVL cross-country meet this coming Tuesday; Avery said it was “too early to speculate” whether the athlete would be able to participate.
Avery also said the attack, although unheard of in the experience of anyone associated with the sport, had triggered discussion among MVL principals about safety issues for cross-country running and Nordic skiing meets, where athletes tend to be more isolated.
“I’ve never thought about something like this occurring. I think we’re all thinking about how we manage meets, how we manage practices,” he said.
Most principals, Avery said, shared his reaction.
“It just boggles the mind,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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