Sports

Sports Report: Middlebury Union High School

Surprising news at the area’s biggest high school came from the baseball program — it will compete at only the JV level. In terms of numbers, MUHS could have fielded a team: 18 athletes showed up. But school Activities Director Sean Farrell pointed out those 18 consisted of five sophomores, 12 freshmen and one junior.
Farrell and the coaching staff — including new varsity head coach Tim Paquette, a former college player and Vergennes standout — thought it best to look toward the future of the program and the athletes and stick with JV competition. 
Farrell also noted that former coach Charlie Messenger stepped down, while MUHS Softball Coach Polly Rheaume also regretfully stepped away due to work conflicts. Bob Cameron, who has middle school and youth softball coaching experience, agreed to take the softball program over.
Almost all players who made the Tiger softball program competitive in 2018 and 2019 graduated, and Cameron will be looking to develop a team with two seniors, Olivia Audet, a 2019 veteran, and Jordan Bessette. They will be looking to supply leadership to nine juniors who were freshmen the last time Tiger softball players took the field.
Audet also helped the Tigers start strong, fanning 17 in their opening win, and younger athletes made clutch plays in what was an extra-inning victory that boded well, as did their later win over a solid VUHS team that pushed their record to 2-1. Many of those newcomers look ready for prime time.
Coach Matt Rizzo’s Tiger boys’ lacrosse team also contains a large junior class and a few seniors — attacker Bode Rubright, midfielder Mason Kaufmann and goalie Jack Rizzo — who helped the Tigers reach the D-I semifinal round two years ago.
Among the many talented juniors is defender Matthew Kiernan, who saw time as freshman.
The Tigers should be solid in the back, always a good place to start when putting together a strong team. They also opened the season well, thumping host Burlington in their opener, 15-2.
Coach Brandi Whittemore’s 2019 girls’ lacrosse team was in rebuilding mode after a senior-dominated 2018 team won its second straight D-I title. That’s not a bad thing for 2021, because many key players two years ago were freshmen and sophomores and are still with the program.
Four of those returners are seniors: goalie Lydia Deppman, defender/midfielder Kaitlyn McNamara, and attackers/midfielders Cam Jaring and Clara Wolff. Multi-sport athletes like Ivy Doran, Sophie Larocque and Fairley Olson are among seven juniors, and another junior, Alanna Trudeau, racked up six goals in the Tigers’ opening 13-2 victory over Brattleboro this month.
And younger players include starters in other varsity sports. It all adds up to what should be a competitive season for the Tiger girls’ lax squad.
Turnout for Coach Jill Dunn’s girls’ tennis program was encouraging, with 18 athletes signing up. The Tiger girls have demonstrated enthusiasm, even if they have not enjoyed the same level of success on the court as the boys’ program.
Dunn is confident that could change this year, as six seniors return: Abby Bailey, Elizabeth Bright, Lois Alberts, Emma Franklin, Bridget Graham and Gwen Troumbley, plus three juniors with experience from 2019, including No. 2 player on the ladder Julia Bartlett.
Another eight freshmen and sophomores were looking to crack the top nine on the playing ladder, and two did: Freshman Scarlett Carrara took over as the No. 1 singles player, and sophomore Abby Morsman opened at No. 3 on the ladder as the Tigers swept Rice, 7-0, in their first match without dropping a set.
Another new coach takes over, at least as an interim, for the boys’ tennis program. Ken Schoen, who has helped the Tiger boys to winning seasons in recent years, bowed out due to his workplace COVID requirements. Taking over is MUHS teacher Dan Comar, who Farrell said has tennis coaching experience.
Five experienced players return: seniors Abel Anderson, Andy Giorgio, Karic Riche, Aiden Cole and Oliver Poduschnik. There are three juniors and sophomores, and seven freshmen, some of whom already have a strong tennis background, signed on.
A continuation of the program’s winning streak would be no shocker, and certainly the team’s future looks bright. The Tigers had not yet played as of this writing.
Meanwhile, Ultimate, the newest varsity sport at MUHS, has doubled in size. Maybe not exactly in numbers, but there are now Tiger boys’ and girls’ teams rather than one coed team. And another new coach: Daniel Raabe joins the program to coach the girls’ team, while program founder, Michelle Steele, will stick with the boys’ squad.
Almost all the athletes, especially on the girls’ side, are new faces in the program. There are 17 members of the boys’ team, including seniors Timothy Hunsdorfer, Lucas Broughton and Kyle Mitchell, who will toss the flying disks around, which can’t be referred to in promotional material as they typically are conversationally for trademark reasons. (Psst: They’re called “Frisbees.”)
Anna Berg is the only senior on the 10-strong girls’ team. Games are played on the Ultimate Field, which football players used in the fall.
Another new coach this spring at MUHS takes over the school’s track and field program: He is MUHS teacher Ben Weir.
Given the Middlebury College track is off limits this spring due to COVID-19 restrictions, Farrell said Weir is an ideal coach for the team because he previously led the track and field program at Randolph High School — a school without a track.
Few athletes returned from the 2019 team. Those returning include Hannah Turner, Astrid Olson and Viviana Hammond on the girls’ side, and Nicholas Suchomel among the boys.
Cross-country runners who fared well in the fall could help in the distance events, including Ella Landis, Seina Dowgiewicz, Sofia Stefani, Baxter Harrington, Ethan Foster and Thomas Nevins.

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