Thetford girls a near-miss runner-up at a quiet VPA state cross country state meet

  • Meg MacLaury, of Hartford, comes runs a wooded section of the course for the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. MacLaury finished 25th with a time of 23:55.2. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Hartford’s Jack Fournier-Stephens, middle, strides past James Ripley, of Lamoille, during the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Fournier-Stephens finished 51st with a time of 21:14.1. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Molly Shearer, of Woodstock, finished 35th in the VPA Division II cross country meet with a time of 25.05.7 at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Zach Johnson, of Hartford, picks up his pace in the final stretch to the finish of the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Johnson finished 80th with a time of 23:31.6. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Farren Stainton, of Woodstock, runs with the pack as they enter the woods during the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Stainton finished 34th with a time of 25:04.4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Riley Shepherd, of Woodstock, center, takes off from the starting line in the VPA Division II cross country meet at Thetford Academy in Thetford, Vt., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. Shepherd, who took second place in 2019, did not finish the race due to an injury. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/31/2020 10:21:16 PM
Modified: 11/3/2020 9:23:49 AM

THETFORD — A usual VPA state cross country meet on Thetford Academy’s 5-kilometer course is loud. The buzz of the concession stand, the annoying PA announcements to make room for runners at the start and plenty of cheering at the finishing line.

But on Saturday, the entire day was eerily quiet. Students filed off buses, ran their races, then trotted back on their buses to head home and tell friends and family about their performances.

For Bob Hagen, who has been the starter for the Thetford Woods Trail Run and VPA state meet since 2004, the day just felt off. A former cross country coach at Hartford High, he joked that he didn’t have to worry about any dogs or spectators getting in the way because there were none.

But even his day was different. Instead of telling fans to stay clear of the course, he had to tell athletes when they were allowed to take their masks off.

“I think the saddest part is the kids have to get right back on the bus,” he said. “They used to have their Frisbees and things. It’s not the same atmosphere, energy. And it doesn’t feel like a party like it usually does.”

Still, the day went on. Led by Madelyn Durkee’s third-place finish, the TA girls team took second overall, falling four points shy of Bellows Falls in Division III. The Terriers secured their second consecutive state title as Abby Broadley won her third straight individual crown in 19 minutes, 49 seconds.

Annie Hesser (12th), Abby Egner (16), Layla Hanissian (17th) and Jada Rich (19th) finished in the top 20 to close out the Panthers’ scoring.

“It felt good; I was a little nervous,” said Durkee, who plays ice hockey in the winter for Hartford High. “I PR’d today; that felt good. I just wanted to finish the race strong and feel good about that, and I did that.”

White River Valley freshman Anita Miller took fourth overall in her first state meet in 20:37. She split her time this fall running and also playing on the Wildcats’ girls soccer team. Rachel Horner-Richardson of Mid Vermont Christian took seventh place in 21:53.

“I actually started running during quarantine and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m kinda good at this,’ ” said Miller, who was the only girl representing the Wildcats. “Next year, I definitely want to go sub-20 on this course. The hills are very challenging. I knew that the girl from Bellows Falls was really fast, but I didn’t really know what I was going up against.”

The TA boys were without two of their top five runners because of injuries, but they still placed third out of 12 teams. Ben Acker (21st), Jack Hastings (22nd), Dan Wolstenholme (25th) and Liam Patterson (26th) all packed together in the top 30 for the Panthers.

Still, TA couldn’t catch Craftsbury, which placed four runners in the top 10 to take home the first title in program history.

“It was a nice little surprise,” Thetford coach Joe Deffner said. “Our four boys really ran as a clump today, which is excellent for scoring. They really rose to the occasion.”

White River Valley placed ninth and was led by Ryan Smith (30th) and Danny Smith (31st). Hayden Palmer placed 55th for Oxbow, and Liam Attwood was the lone runner for Windsor, taking 42nd.

Division II

Woodstock co-coaches Kate Kardashian and Martha Perkins’ top boys runner, Riley Shepherd, faced an injury the last three weeks and wasn’t able to fully recover, which resulted in him not finishing Saturday’s race. A year ago as a junior, he took second place and led his team to a runner-up performance.

Woodstock still finished in the middle of the pack Saturday, placing eighth among 14 teams. Sophomore Zed McNaughton stepped up, pacing the Wasps with a time of 19:01 second and placing 16th.

Quinn Giordano (36th) and Calef Hepler (40th) each finished roughly a minute behind McNaughton. Wilbur Abrams (60th) and Alexander Inglis (71st) rounded out Woodstock’s scoring.

“We were really pleased with the boys,” Kardashian said. “Zed was all in. These guys have really worked hard the last three weeks.”

Hartford placed 12th, led by Finn Sunde (50th) and Jack Fournier-Stephens (51st).

In the girls race, Hartford’s Meg MacLaury placed 25th with a time of 23:55. Despite not having enough athletes to place as a team, Rylee Burnham (41) and Bethany Davis (43) both finished in the top 50 to round out the trio of Hurricanes.

Woodstock placed seventh of eight squads and was paced by freshman Farren Stainton’s 34th-place finish with a time of 25:04. Her teammate, Molly Shearer, was a second behind in 35th. The Wasps scoring was rounded out by Bronwyn Morris (44th), Morgan Myers (47th) and Maggie Mello (60th).

“Cross country is like the best part of my day,” said Perkins, who is a teacher at Woodstock along with Kardashian. “The kids say the same thing because you could almost forget about COVID during cross country. You could almost run away from it. There was that gratitude to be able to run, too.”

Notes: In D-II, U-32 rolled to a sweep. The Raiders’ girls upset reigning champion Harwood by 13 points. Harwood’s Ava Thurston still won her third consecutive state title. … Champlain Valley followed the trend, sweeping the boys and girls team crowns in D-I. The Redhawks’ Alicia Veronneau held on to her individual title. … TA is set to host the Vermont middle school meet on Sunday, which Hagen said he’d be starting.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.

Correction

Bob Hagen was the starter at the VPA state cross  country meet in Thetford on Saturday. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported his first name.




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