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Worth the wait: Lebanon girls win first NHIAA D-II cross country ski crown

  • Ayla Weale

  • Anna Illsley

  • Ana Goodwin

  • Zoe Chinn

Staff Reports
Published: 3/4/2021 10:06:50 PM
Modified: 3/4/2021 10:06:46 PM

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — In the end, it was worth the wait.

Delayed by two days when weather softened the course, the Lebanon High girls cross country ski team won its first NHIAA state championship on Thursday, taking the Division II crown at Great Glen Trails. Senior Ayla Weale recorded a pair of top-10 finishes for the Raiders, who had previously recorded four runner-up results in various divisions in the 1970s and ‘90s, long before the NHIAA set up Nordic skiing for its own state honors.

“Good day for us,” longtime Lebanon coach Les Lawrence said in an email.

As with Division I on Wednesday, the D-II finals were staged in a skiathlon format. Athletes did a classic loop, hit a transition area and changed into freestyle skis for a second circuit. Teams were set up to compete amongst themselves in 15-minute windows, with each squad’s skiers departing in 15-second intervals.

Weale set the pace for Lebanon, taking third in the classic in 11 minutes, 50.3 seconds, trailing only Gilford’s Catherine Stow (10:51.8) and Vanessa Genakos (11:37.6). Depth served the Raiders from there, with Zoe Chinn (12:07.6), Anna Illsley (12:44.1) and Ana Goodwin (12:56.4) finishing 6-10-12. That left the Raiders with a 20-point lead on the Golden Eagles, whose final two scoring athletes placed 23rd and 33rd.

Hopkinton made a charge for team honors with a 2-4-10-13 result in freestyle. Weale (14:35.0), Illsley (15:18.4), Chinn (15:20.8) and Goodwin (15:35.8) were 8-11-12-15 for Lebanon, and that was enough for the Raiders to ensure a four-point victory for the championship. Stow swept individual honors, adding to her classic win with a topping time of 13:02.7 in freestyle.

The Lebanon boys came close to completing the double, ultimately finishing second to Gilford by 12 points. The Raiders held a 6.5-point lead on the Golden Eagles after the classic, with Daniel Mladek (third, 10:08.5), Seth Carl (sixth, 10:32.8), Sam Shipman (seventh, 10:37.4) and Micah Achmoody (11th, 10:55.4) scoring.

Gilford packed its four skiers into the freestyle top six to rally for the championship. Shipman (fifth, 12:38.5), Mladek (eighth, 12:51.7), Carl (12th, 13:15.6) and John Bieszczad (16th, 13:27.3) provided the Raiders’ points.

Girls team scores (top five): Lebanon 732, Hopkinton 728, Plymouth 687, Gilford 679, Kearsarge 654.

Boys team scores (top five): Gilford 753, Lebanon 745, Kearsarge 692, Fall Mountain 686, Hopkinton 640).

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