Tiger runners, Laird excel at the state meet

TIGER RUNNERS BETH McIntosh, left front, and Ella Landis join a Harwood competitor in leading a pack of runners during the Division II girls’ championship race in Thetford on Saturday. Landis and McIntosh led the Tigers, who finished third overall, by taking fifth and eighth places, respectively. Photo by Joe McVeigh

NORTH BRANCH SCHOOL 9th-grader Estella Laird won the Division III girls’ cross country race at Thetford on Saturday by more than 20 seconds. Laird, who trains with the Mount Abraham team, was fifth overall among runners from all three divisions.
Photo by Joe McVeigh

THETFORD — The Middlebury Union High School boys’ and girls’ teams finished second and third, respectively, in Division II at the Vermont high school cross country championships in Thetford on Saturday, while North Branch School ninth-grader Estella Laird claimed the D-III individual title.

Laird’s time of 20:28.1 over the 5-kilometer course in cool, damp conditions was about 20 seconds faster than the runner-up and was the fifth-fastest of female competitors in all the three divisions.

Laird, who trains with the Mount Abraham team, and Tiger senior Ella Landis, who was fifth in D-II in 21:37.38 and 22nd overall among female runners, both qualified for the New England championship race.

That event will be back in Thetford on Nov. 13. The top 25 male and female runners regardless of division qualified, and Laird and Landis were the only local runners to make the cut.

The Tiger boys were led by senior Nat McVeigh and sophomore Baxter Harrington, who ran 12-13; McVeigh showed a wicked kick in the final straightaway to eclipse his teammate. Freshman Baker Nelson was not far behind in 16th, and two more freshmen rounded out the scorers, Haaken Olson in 22nd and Matthew Berg in 32nd.

U-32 ran away with the team race, sweeping five of the top six places to score 17 points, led by Carson Beard in first (16:43.05). The Tigers were second in a 14-team field with 95 points, followed by Montpelier (109) and Harwood (121).

Mount Abraham, led by senior Noah Engvall’s 30th-place effort, finished 11th (266), and Vergennes, paced by sophomore Calvin Gramling in 46th, was 12th (299).

The Tiger girls scored 75 points in finishing third behind Harwood (27), which placed five runners in the top 10, including winner Ava Thurston with an all-division-best time of 19:29.4; and U-32 (51). Lamoille (125) and Burr & Burton (130) cracked the top five in a 10-team girls’ D-II field.

The Tiger girls’ combined effort was good for seventh overall among teams in all divisions, one place short of qualifying for the New England meet.

Behind Landis for the Tigers, ninth-grader Beth McIntosh took eighth, junior Seina Dowgiewicz was 12th, ninth-grader Ava Schneider was 15th, and senior Fairley Olson rounded out the scorers in 35th.

Mount Abe fielded four runners, one short of the five needed for a team score. Senior Abigail Johnson led the Eagles by taking 27th. Ninth-grader Torrey Hanna was the only Commodore runner; she finished 62nd in 28:23.43.

Otter Valley’s Sara Loyzelle ran in the D-III girls’ race, taking 46th in 27:57.43. She was her school’s only competitor on the day.

SENIOR NAT MCVEIGH and sophomore Baxter Harrington helped the Tiger boys take second place at the Division II cross-country meet in Thetford on Saturday by scoring 12th- and 13-place finishes, respectively. They were the top runners for the MUHS boys’ team.
Photo by Angela Landis

Local finishers were:

Tiger boys: 12. McVeigh, 18:41.62; 13. Harrington, 18:42.06; 16. Nelson, 19:11.48; 22. Olson, 19:33.30; 32. Berg, 20:09.07; 35. junior Aidan Chance, 20:14.10; and 47. freshman Ethan Spritzer, 20:53.81.

Eagle boys: 30: Engvall, 20:08.06; 57. junior Gus Hill, 21:38.74; 58. sophomore Abel Atocha, 21:40.40; 60. junior Norman Benoit, 21:49.39; and 61. senior Hugh Ball, 21:49.53.

Commodore boys: 46. Gramling, 20:53.75; 48. freshman Grey Fearon, 20:51.27; 49. sophomore Calder Rakowski, 20:55.41; 77. sophomore Riley Gagnon, 23:16.16; and 79. senior Christopher Therrien, 23:39.05.

Tiger girls: 5. Landis, 21:37.37; McIntosh, 21:43.16; 13. Dowgiewicz, 22:03.12; 15. Schneider, 22:09.71; 35. Olson, 25:53.53; 37. senior Megan Balparda, 26:01.21; and 40. junior Ari Graham-Gurland, 26:26.91.

Eagle girls: 27. Johnson, 23:59.06; 29. ninth-grader Kayla Friend, 24:35.37; 60. junior Maisy Hill, 27:46,69; and 69. junior Ruby-Jean Hall, 29:31.25.

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