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Championship Reflections: South Royalton Track

  • South Royalton's Connor Lambert crosses the finish line during the hurdles at the VPA Division IV state track meet in Chester, Vt., on June 2, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton pole vaulter Ryan Jones competes during the VPA Division IV state track meet in Chester, Vt., on June 2, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton runner Sam Fisk crosses the finish line for the 4x800 relay during the VPA Division IV state track meet in Chester, Vt., on June 2, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • South Royalton's Brais Figueroa Fraga nears the finish line in the 400 meter dash at the VPA Division IV state track meet in Chester, Vt., on June 2, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, July 13, 2017

South Royalton School track and field head coach Shannon Palone had a feeling early on that her boys had a chance to compete for first place at the VPA Division IV championship meet at Green Mountain Union High School. A blowout with nine first-place finishes, however, came out of nowhere.

South Royalton accumulated 131.5 points in 13 of 18 events at the D-IV state meet on June 2, 73.5 more points than second-place Northfield to win its first track title since 2013. The Royal girls settled for second place, four points (86) behind Northfield (90), in 2016 and placed third in 2015.

“The commitment level is there this year,” Palone said on June 2. “It was there last year, too, but we had two juniors that really stepped up. … They held everyone accountable but also really showed that they can lead a team.”

One of those juniors, Connor Lambert, led the way by winning four events: the javelin (148 feet, 8 inches), discus (120-2), 110 hurdles (16.79 seconds) and pole vault (11-8), setting a new D-IV record in the latter event, beating the previously held mark of the Royals’ Michael Dunkle.

Lambert did all of it on his 17th birthday.

The other junior, Ryan Jones, helped South Royalton sweep all three relay events.

To Lambert, it was the pole vault record that was most important.

“I’ve wanted that pole vault record since I grabbed a pole vault and said, ‘This is my thing,’ ” Lambert said on June 2. “It was the biggest relief of my athletic life since I started doing sports back (when I was) 4 or 5 years old.”

South Royalton dominated most of its events in the state meet.

Brais Figueroa Fraga, an exchange student from Spain, won the 400 dash (54.62) and 300 hurdles (44.99) individually and helped the Royals win the 4x100 relay (46.89) and the 4x400 relay (3:52.12). South Royalton’s early-meet win in the 4x800 — by distance runners Nicholas Thornton, Ryan Jones, Jackson McClain and Sam Fisk — was a surprise to Palone, the first hint that the meet might go her team’s way.

“The 4x800 came out of nowhere,” Palone said. “We weren’t expecting that.”

Eric Taylor won the 200 in 25.17 seconds; Christopher McCullough placed fifth (25.71). McCullough also scored points by placing fifth in the 100 (12.35). Thornton, South Royalton’s distance runner, took fifth in the 1,500 (4:55.67) and 3,000 (10:47.28). Fisk placed third in the 3,000 (10:37.78).

For Lambert, South Royalton’s track title felt like the beginning of something special for team bringing back plenty of experience and talent next season.

“Being able to come from third to second to first (since 2015) and still have a team that has only two seniors on it and an exchange student … being able to look at the championship net year and say we could probably do that again, it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a great feeling. I know everyone is really motivated for track.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.