Two runners and a pitcher earn recognition

VERMONT — The Vermont Sports Media Association chose a 72-year-old marathon specialist, a junior softball pitcher from BFA-Fairfax High School, and a junior track and field athlete from Mount Mansfield Union as its athletes of the month for May.
Elected in statewide balloting of VSMA membership were: Newton Baker of Montpelier as the Open Division Athlete of the Month, Kayla Mathieu of BFA-Fairfax as the High School Female Athlete of the Month, and Alec Eschholz of Mount Mansfield Union as the High School Male Athlete of the Month.
Each was first nominated by a VSMA member for his or her outstanding efforts during May. Local nominees were Middlebury Union’s Sam Usilton and Otter Valley’s Cortney Poljacik.
In that month, Baker — who has undergone knee, ankle and prostate cancer surgeries — completed seven marathons in a span of 14 days, including the New England Challenge of five marathons in five days in five states. Baker then finished the Shires of Vermont Marathon a day later and later added his 26th consecutive Key Bank Vermont City Marathon. Baker has run in all of the Key Bank marathons since the event was founded.   
Also nominated for the Open Division award was Castleton State College freshman women’s lacrosse player Kim Gosselin.
In two of May’s biggest meets, Eschholz owned the hurdling events. In the Burlington Invitational he won the 110-meter high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles, setting meet records of 14.66 and 39.12, respectively. At that meet, Eschholz also won the long jump with a 21’6″ leap, and his 5’10” high jump was good for third.
At the Essex Invitational, Eschholz won the 110m high hurdles in a meet-record 14.64, and then broke a state record set in 1987 in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a time of 38.34. He also took second in the long jump at 21’1.5″.
Eschholz outpolled Poultney senior baseball player Sean Shepardson and Usilton. Usilton, a senior lacrosse attacker, sparked the Tigers in May by scoring 30 goals and setting up six more in eight games. He scored at least three goals in every game except one, racked up six goals twice, and scored eight goals in three games vs. the best teams in the state, CVU and South Burlington. Usilton scored the 100th goal of his career early in May.
In May, Mathieu, Vermont’s Gatorade Softball Player of the Year, dominated every lineup she faced, going 9-0 to improve her career record to 34-0 through the end of the month. For the month, her earned run average was 0.25, and she walked fewer than one batter per game while averaging 2.1 strikeouts per inning. At the plate, she batted .600 with a .696 on-base percentage and a 1.230 slugging percentage.
Mathieu earned the VSMA nod among a field of five nominees that included U-32 senior lacrosse player Nicole Lavigne; two senior track and field athletes, Katherine Furland of Essex and Hannah Merriam of Peoples Academy; and Poljacik.
In May, Poljacik helped the Division II champion Otters to an 8-3 record with her hitting and her play at shortstop. She batted .486 and stroked a double, triple and five homers, while scoring 11 runs and driving home 19 in 11 games. In the field, she committed just one error while handling 26 chances.
The three May winners will receive plaques from the VSMA’s sponsor of the organization’s Athlete of the Month program, Initial Ideas of Rutland.
More information about the VSMA is available from organization president Josh Kaufmann of the St. Albans Messenger at [email protected].

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