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Devils Rule the Den, Capture State Track Crown

  • Larissa Stride of South Royalton clears the bar during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships pole vault event at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Larissa Stride of South Royalton clears the bar during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships pole vault event at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maeve Naumann of South Royalton shades her face from the sun while relaxing before her discus flight during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Maeve Naumann of South Royalton shades her face from the sun while relaxing before her discus flight during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Harry Allen of Whitcomb flies into the long jump pit during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Harry Allen of Whitcomb flies into the long jump pit during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Larissa Stride of South Royalton clears the bar during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships pole vault event at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Maeve Naumann of South Royalton shades her face from the sun while relaxing before her discus flight during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Harry Allen of Whitcomb flies into the long jump pit during the Vermont Division 4 Track and Field Championships at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vt. Friday, June 6, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Chester, Vt. — Last season, the Chelsea High boys track and field team carried just four athletes and still placed second at the Vermont Division IV Track and Field Championships. This time, the Red Devils had plenty of depth.

Nine different Chelsea competitors scored points in at least one event at Green Mountain Union High School as the Devils beat second-place Richford, 126-98, for their first-ever track title and first boys team championship in any sport since Chelsea’s baseball team in 1996.

The Red Devils’ returning nucleus — seniors Brandon Poulin, Anthony Spinella and Garrett Royce and junior Wyatt Kay — combined for 83.5 points, which would have only been good enough for second place again without all of Chelsea’s new contributors.

Freshman Tristan Larocque won the javelin with a heave of 127 feet, senior newcomers Sam Amber (third in the high jump, sixth in the 1,500-meter run, member of second-place 4x800 relay team) and Tito Gomez (member of winning 4x100 relay team) also contributed, as did junior Bryden Bonasera (third in discus) and freshman and Dario Spinella (on 4x8).

It all spelled victory for the Devils.

“We were so close last year, we went out and recruited and everyone who came on this year worked as hard as (the four returners),” said Anthony Spinella. “It paid off. We knew our school didn’t have a boys championship in a little while, so it’s going to be great to get another banner up there.”

The Devils are coached by Donny Wilcox, the father of former Chelsea and Rivendell girls basketball coach Russ Wilcox.

“It was a great bunch of kids and a nice way to finish the season,” the elder Wilcox said. “Russ already had one state title (with Chelsea girls hoops in 2005), so I had some catching up to do.”

Sharon Academy sophomore distance runner Chris Gish won both the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs, breaking his own D-IV record by more than seven seconds in the 1,500 (4:22.71) while coming up 11 seconds short of his own mark in the 3,000 with a time of 9:32.70. The Phoenix placed sixth.

Gish, who has battled hip and knee injuries since eighth grade, had a healthy season this year.

“I love (distance running) because it gets you into a mental space where you can relax and think things over by yourself,” said Gish, who’s been running since second grade. “I run a lot after school. The longest loop I do is about 17-18 miles, through the back roads of Sharon, East Barnard and Pomfret.”

Sharon also received points from sprinter Max Buskey (second in 400; third in 200), Thatcher Morrison (third in 300 hurdles, fifth in 800) and from a third-place 4x400 relay team that included Buskey, Morrison, Gish and freshman Richard Morrill.

Defending champion South Royalton placed seventh after losing more than 70 percent of last year’s scoring production. Most of that came due to graduation, but the Royals also lost surefire points when Michael Dunkle (top 10 in three events last year) transferred to U-32 for his senior year.

South Royalton’s Ferris Galen placed in the 200 (fifth) and 400 (sixth) and was on the Royals’ runner-up 4x400 relay team as well as its third-place 4x100 team. Emmett Lorette was second in the pole vault and ran in the sixth-place 4x800 relay team. Raven Hudson was fifth in the shot put and ran in the 4x400. Teammate Kyle Spaulding was sixth in the high jump and ran in the 4x100 and 4x400 for the Royals

Despite not being registered for team play, Rivendell placed well in a number of events. Junior sprinter Sam Emerson won both the 100 (11.67) and 200 (24.18), breaking his own D-IV record in the latter by .59 seconds. The Raptors’ Liam Fleming and Christian Parenti finished Nos. 3 and 4 in the 1,500 and Nos. 3 and 5 in the 3,000, respectively, while Emerson placed fourth in the high jump.

On the girls’ side, Kayla Gould and Andrea Haehnel both jumped 6 feet even to tie for the win, yet all of the points in the five-person final went to a trio from South Royalton.

Emerson, Fleming and Haehnel were the only Rivendell athletes last season, but the Raptors had seven this year. Rivendell co-coach Mel Emerson said the program hopes to be a registered team with the VPA next season and vie for points at States.

“Right now, we’re only here for the records and the ribbons,” said Mel Emerson, whose athletes trained with neighbors Oxbow and Thetford this season. “It would be nice to score (team points).”

South Royalton’s girls placed third, paced by senior jumper/sprinter Olivia Phillip, who won the triple jump (29-07.25), was second in the long jump and placed sixth in the 200 and 400. Larissa Stride was third in both the javelin and pole vault and fourth in the 300 hurdles, while Sarah Dunkle was fourth in the pole vault and a member of the Royals’ fourth-place 4x800 relay team and fifth-place 4x400 relay. South Royalton also received fifth-place showings from Maggie Dakin (high jump), Anna Meeks (pole vault) and Cora Honigford (shot put).

The Royals’ 4x800 relay team was fourth and its 4x100 team sixth.

Sharon’s girls were fifth, with senior Margaret Gish landing third place in the 1,500 and 3,000. Gretta Stack had top-five performances in the 400 (third), triple jump (fourth) and 200 (sixth), while Greta Binzen was fourth in the 200 and fifth in the long jump.

Stack, Gish and Binzen joined Morgan Morrill for a fourth-place showing in the 4x800.

Whitcomb enjoyed a numbers surge this year, doubling last year’s roster to 18 under second-year co-coaches Tom and Sue Burgos. The Hornets’ boys placed ninth as Harry Allen was fourth in the triple jump and Zak Gillette sixth in the 3,000. Both were also part of Whitcomb’s sixth-place team in the 4x100, along with freshman Liam Walker and senior Benedikt Agustsson. Whitcomb’s girls were 10th, led by Gwen Timmins’ third place in the 100 hurdles.

“It’s been a really fun and rewarding season,” Sue Burgos said.

Boys team scores: 1. Chelsea 126; 2. Richford 98; 3. Northfield 74; 4. Green Mtn. 57; 5. Mount St. Joseph 54; 6. Sharon Acad. 51; 7. S. Royalton 40; 8. Arlington 24; 9. Whitcomb 19; Winooski 8; Twin Valley 6.

Girls team scores: 1. Richford 140; Northfield 106; 3. S. Royalton 94; 4. Green Mtn. 57; 5. Sharon Acad. 52; 6. Arlington 26; 7. Twin Valley 22; 8. Chelsea 18; 9. Winooski 16; 10. Whitcomb 8; 11. Danville 4.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.