Sports

Tiger Nordic teams sweep D-II

MIDDLEBURY SOPHOMORE BETH McIntosh cruises along in the Vermont State Freestyle Championship Race in Craftsbury on Feb. 22. She won the Division II race. Photo by Dave Priganc

RIPTON    Amid falling snow appropriate for Tuesday’s event at Rikert Outdoor Center, the Middlebury Union High School girls’ and boys’ Nordic ski teams both wrapped up Division II titles with a second set of dominant performances on Day Two of the state championship meet. 

Both Tiger teams swept the classic individual 3-kilometer and the team relay races. That followed similar outstanding finishes the previous Wednesday at Craftsbury Outdoor Center, which hosted the freestyle portion of the championship.

Scoring on both days for the Tiger girls, who posted a 70-point margin over second-place Montpelier, was the quartet of Beth McIntosh, Ava Schneider, Mary Harrington and the group’s only senior, Lia Robinson. McIntosh was the individual freestyle winner at Craftsbury, and Schneider took second at Rikert. All four scored top-nine finishes on both days. 

THE FOUR SCORING members of the MUHS girls’ Nordic ski team hug after concluding their dominant performance in the relay and claiming their second straight D-II title. Pictured, clockwise from left, are Lia Robinson, Ava Schneider, Mary Harrington and Beth McIntosh.
Independent photo/Steve James

For the Tiger boys, seniors Eliot Schneider and Trey Bosworth and junior Baxter Harrington scored for MUHS on both days, with Schneider winning the classic at Rikert and Harrington pacing the Tigers with a third-place finish in Craftsbury. Freshman Matias Citarelli was the fourth scorer in Craftsbury, and sophomore Haakon Olsen joined the top four at Rikert. Their margin over second-place Montpelier was a still impressive 39 points. 

Head Coach Keith Wilkerson said many factors went into such a successful season, starting with talent. But many intangibles also went into maximizing the team’s abilities and peaking at the right time, he said, crediting assistant coaches Jessie Donovan, Jay Harrington and Emily Miller for helping develop the strategy. 

“I think it really came down to balancing hard training with fun. We avoided a lot of intensity until later in the season, instead focusing on volume,” Wilkerson said. “The kids were hungry for intensity over the past several weeks, and they were very good about going hard in races and key interval days, and going easy on distance and fun-ski days.”

BAXTER HARRINGTON CRUISES during his second leg of the Tiger boys’ Nordic team’s winning relay effort at Rikert Outdoor Center in Ripton on Tuesday.
Independent photo/Steve James

Team chemistry also played a role, Wilkerson said, something for which he gave credit to strong leadership.

“The team was also very social,” he said. “We have two fantastic captains — (senior) Ari Graham-Gurland and Eliot Schneider —  and they have done a great job helping to create a welcoming and positive atmosphere with everyone on the team supporting each other.”

Certainly the results speak for themselves as the Tiger girls claimed their second straight title and the boys their first since 2018.

The girls’ team scores were 1. MUHS, 51; 2. Montpelier, 121; 3. U-32, 138; 4. Woodstock, 228; 5. Harwood, 301; 6. Lamoille, 366; 7. BFA-Fairfax, 425; 8. Lyndon, 560.

The boys’ team scores were 1. MUHS, 76; 2. Montpelier, 115; 3. Woodstock, 146; 4. U-32, 240; 5. Stowe, 380; 6. Lamoille, 402; 7. BFA-Fairfax, 436; 8. Burr & Burton, 452; 9. Peoples, 512.

AVA SCHNEIDER CELEBRATES at the finish line as she completes the anchor leg for the Tiger girls’ winning relay team at Rikert Outdoor Center on Tuesday, sealing the team’s overall victory.
Independent photo/Steve James

FEB. 22 FREESTYLE

In Feb. 22 freestyle racing at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, the Tiger girls placed all four scoring skiers in the top 10 of the individual 3-kilometer race and won the relay to take a commanding 25-56 lead over second-place Montpelier. 

The MUHS boys placed their four scorers in the top 13 and prevailed in the relay to take a 17-point lead, 41-58, over second-place Woodstock after one day of racing, with Montpelier (62) at that point in third. 

McIntosh led the girls’ team with a first-place finish in a time that was 20 seconds better than the runner-up in D-II and about 26 seconds faster than the D-I winner.

TIGER HAAKON OLSEN tags teammate Eliot Schneider at the final exchange in the classic team relay race in the Division II championship competition at Rikert on Tuesday. MUHS won the race and the team title.
Independent photo/Steve James

The top Tiger finishers in the girls’ race were: 1. McIntosh, 13:32.9; 4. A. Schneider, 14:01.8; 5. M. Harrington, 14:06.7; 9. Robinson, 15:20.5.

Those four teamed up to win the relay in 28:42.8, with Montpelier (31:25.2) in second and U-32 (31:45.2) in third.   

Baxter Harrington led the Tiger boys by taking third. The Tiger finishers in the boys’ race were: 3. B. Harrington, 12:07.7; 9. E. Schneider, 12:51.3; 10. Citarella, 13:14; 13. Bosworth, 13:29.8. 

Schneider, Bosworth, Citarella and Harrington teamed up to win the relay in 25:49.5, followed by Woodstock (26:27.4) in second and Montpelier (26:47) in third.

THE D-II CHAMPION Tiger girls’ Nordic team poses at Rikert Outdoor Center on Tuesday with their trophy, the team’s second straight.
Independent photo/Steve James

RIKERT RESULTS

On Tuesday, both Tiger teams continued to dominate on their home course in classic-style skiing.  

The girls placed their top four skiers in the top nine overall again and won the relay over runner-up Montpelier by about two minutes. 

U-32’s Clare Serrano won the girls’ classic individual crown in 17:10.3, edging Ava Schneider by about nine seconds, with McIntosh in third. But Eliot Schneider and Baxter Harrington went 1-2 to spark the Tiger boys.

The Tiger girls’ results were, with the top four scoring: 2. A. Schneider, 17:19.7; 3. McIntosh, 17:32.6; 5. M. Harrington, 17:34.8; 9. Robinson, 19:06; 18. Lila Cook Yoder, 10:35.1; 25. Naomi Brightman, 25.15.4; 26. Graham-Gurland, 22:15.4; 44. Dahlia Harrison-Irwin, 23:46.4. 

THE D-II CHAMPION Tiger boys’ Nordic ski team poses at Rikert Outdoor Center on Tuesday with their trophy, the team’s first since 2018.
Independent photo/Steve James

The Tiger boys’ individual results were: 1. E. Schneider, 14:30.8; 2. B. Harrington, 14:39.2; 13. Bosworth, 16:35.1; 17. Olsen, 16:59.3; 19. Baker Nelson, 17:02.9; 23. Ben Seaton, 17:06; 28. Aaron Carr-Perlow, 17:14.65; 30. Matthew Berg.

Also competing as individuals were, from Mount Abe: 6. Lorenzo Atocha, 15:28.2; and 31. Abel Atocha, 17.27.7; and, from Otter Valley, 62. Luke Calvin, 19:51.9; 71. Baker LaRock, 21:51.7; and 72. Dillon Ladd, 22:19.2.

In the relay, Bosworth, Harrington, Olsen and Schneider cruised to the win in 29:10.6 despite Schneider injuring his shoulder during the anchor leg. Montpelier (29:44) was second, and Woodstock (29:49.6) took third. 

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