Tiger skiers take seconds in Div. II championship

RIPTON — After particularly strong efforts in the second leg of the two-day state championship meet, the Middlebury Union High School boys’ and girls’ Nordic skiing teams this week finished second to U-32 in the Division II state championship meet.
Monday’s classic style races were held at Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton. The meet’s freestyle racing took place at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center the previous Thursday, Feb. 28.
U-32 had finished second to MUHS for the past two years. The Tiger boys’ team had won the past three D-II titles’ the Tiger girls’ the past two.
MUHS took second this winter despite graduating seven of their top eight skiers from the 2018 state championship meet. Only junior Malia Hodges returned to lead the Tiger girls’ squad.
MUHS FRESHMAN ELVIS MacIntosh catches some air during the relay on Monday at the Division II Nordic state meet at Rikert Nordic Center. MacIntosh won the boys’ classic 5-kilometer race, and he and teammates Jack Christner, Owen Palcsik and Lucas Palcsik won the relay. U-32 edged the Tigers for the team title. (Photo courtesy Austin Danforth/Burlington Free Press) Below, Tiger freshman Astrid Olsen goes into a tuck to glide down a slope during Monday’s classic-style racing. Olsen helped the Tiger girls place third in the classic relay and was 17th in the 5K classic.
St. Albans Messenger photo/Josh Kaufmann
MUHS Head Coach Linnea Manley said she and the program assistants were thrilled with the Tigers’ efforts in the state meet and all winter.
“We are so pleased with the hard work and dedication shown by our team this season. These skiers have put in a lot of time and effort over the last three months and it has paid off, as can be seen in our state meet results,” Manley said. “We could not be more proud of this excellent group of young people.”
On Monday, the Tiger boys won the classic 5-kilometer race — by sweeping the top three places — and the team relay event. This wiped out most of the 32-point lead the Raiders had amassed in freestyle racing at Craftsbury.
But the Raiders placed four racers in the top eight in the classic race to hang on for an 11-point victory, 67-78, in the seven-team field, with Lamoille (225) a distant third. No skier from a school other than U-32 or MUHS cracked the top 15 in Monday’s race.
Freshman Elvis McIntosh led MUHS by taking first in 15:29, with sophomore Jack Christner in second, freshman Lucas Palcsik in third and junior Owen Palcsik in seventh. Sam Clark was U-32’s top finisher in the race, taking fourth.
McIntosh, Christner and both Palcsiks led the Tigers to Monday’s relay win in 38:24.4, with the Raiders in second in 38:51.7.
In the girls’ relays, U-32 cruised to wins both days, but the Tiger girls rallied from third on Thursday to second on Monday. Hodges, senior Audrey Huston and freshmen Maddy Stowe and Astrid Olsen finished second Monday’s classic 4X2.5K relay in 49:29.2, about two minutes behind the dominant Raiders. Hodges placed fourth in the 5K classic as the Tigers took third in that event.
The U-32 girls prevailed with 72 points by winning both relays, placing four racers in the top 12 on Monday, and four in the top 11 on Thursday. The Tigers trailed with 158, edging Burr & Burton (181) and Harwood (187) in the seven-team field.
Harwood’s Ava Thurston won both girls’ races. May Lamb was the Raider girls’ top performer, taking second in the classic and fifth in the freestyle.
Hodges led the Tiger girls in Thursday’s freestyle 5K by taking fifth. She joined Huston, Stowe and junior Isabel Olson to finish third in the freestyle 4X2.5K relay in 31:03.3. They trailed U-32 in 28:47, with Harwood (30:20.6) in second.
McIntosh and Christner skied 3-4 for the Tiger boys in Thursday’s boys’ freestyle 5K, which was won by the Raiders’ Jed Kurts. In Thursday’s freestyle relay U-32 prevailed in 23:44.6. The Tiger team of Christner, Lucas Palcsik, Will Carpenter and McIntosh took second in 24:50.2.
Mount Abraham junior independent Addy Harris excelled on both days, taking sixth in Monday’s classic 5K and fourth in Thursday’s freestyle 5K.
Monday’s winner and the MUHS finishers in the boys’ 5K classic race at Rikert were:
1. McIntosh, MUHS, 15:29.6; 2. Christner, MUHS, 15:33; 3. L. Palcsik (pictured, right), MUHS, 16:01.4; 7. O. Palcsik, MUHS, 16:39.6; 13. Carpenter, MUHS, 17:15.1; 18. Gabe Cason, MUHS, 17:59.8; 29. Fraser Milligan, MUHS, 19:27.7; and 31. Alex Bleich, MUHS, 19:31.4.
Monday’s winner and the local finishers in the girls’ 5K classic race at Rikert were: 1. Thurston, Harwood, 16:30.3; 4. Hodges, MUHS, 18:45.5; 6. Harris, Mt. Abe, 19:27.7; 15. Stowe, MUHS, 21:18.3; 17. Astrid Olsen, MUHS, 21:28.7; 21. Huston, MUHS, 22:13.3; 22. Isabel Olson, MUHS, 22:16; 24. Maisie Newbury, MUHS, 22:29.5; 35. Kate Wallace, MUHS, 23:51.5; 40. Catherine Schmitt, MUHS, 24:32.2
Thursday’s winner and the MUHS finishers in the boys’ 5K freestyle race in Craftsbury were:
1. Kurts, U-32, 13:27.3; 3. McIntosh, MUHS, 13:50.2; 4. Christner, MUHS, 13:52.0; 14. L. Palcsik, MUHS, 15:14; 17. Carpenter, MUHS, 15:35.3; 18. O. Palcsik, MUHS, 15:37.9; 27. Cason, MUHS, 16:47.2; 32. Bleich, MUHS, 17:46.4; 33. Milligan, MUHS, 17:51.7.
Thursday’s winner and the local finishers in the girls’ 5K freestyle race in Craftsbury were:
1. Thurston, Harwood, 14:37; 4. Harris, Mt. Abe, 16:51.9; 5. Hodges, MUHS, 16:59.5; 15. Stowe, MUHS, 18:29.8; 20. Huston, MUHS, 19:30.8; 21. Olson, MUHS, 19:39.8; 28. Olsen, MUHS, 20:18.3; 34. Newbury, MUHS, 20:57.1; 39. Ailey Bosworth, MUHS, 21:47.7; 41; Mary Nagy-Benson, MUHS, 21:58.
Assistant Coach Barney Hodges was optimistic about the future of Tiger Nordic skiing.
“As coaches what we can be sure of is that this young team will be back in 2020 primed to challenge once again for state titles,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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