Purrier runs way to VSMA honor

VERMONT — The Vermont Sports Media Association has chosen Montgomery resident and University of New Hampshire freshman track and field athlete Elle Purrier as its July Athlete of the Month.
Purrier outpolled six other nominees, including Addison County American Legion baseball player Wade Steele, for the honor in statewide balloting of VSMA members. Each was first nominated by a VSMA member for his or her outstanding efforts in July.
Purrier, 19, closed out a remarkable first year of post-high school racing by finishing ninth in the International Association of Athletics FederationsJunior World Championships in Oregon, coming within eight seconds of the U.S. Juniors record in her qualifying race in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Before then, Purrier won the U.S.A. Track and Field Association Under-20 national championship in her first competitive steeplechase race early in July with a time of 10:24.46 to qualify for the world championship event.
She then made the final in the IAAF junior championships by finishing fifth in the faster of two qualifying heats and ninth overall. Her time of 10:08.33 was 16 seconds better than her U.S. Junior Nationals time and was her best overall. In the final two days later, she ran 10:21.59 and held on to ninth place.
Steele, an Addison resident and 2013 Vergennes Union High School graduate, was nominated for helping the Addison County Legion baseball team to a 4-2 record at the state tournament at Castleton State College and earning the first base position on the all-tourney team. In the tournament, Steele went 10-for-23 with five walks, two doubles, a homer, three runs, and seven RBIs.
Steele singled in a run and walked and scored the go-ahead run in AC’s 5-3 opening win; drilled a two-run double in a 15-4 second-game win; hit a two-run double as AC edged eventual champion Essex, 5-4, in the next game; and scored a run and singled home another in a game-four 7-5 victory. As Essex defeated AC twice to take the title on the final day, Steele plated one run with a squeeze bunt in a 5-3 setback and then homered in his last Legion at-bat in the 3-2 final.
Purrier also outpolled racecar driver Nick Sweet of Barre, U-32 High School soccer player Emily George, Rice Memorial basketball player Hailee Barron, Williamstown basketball player Jason Manwaring, and North Country Union golfer Katie Goulet.
The July winner 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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