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Royally Deserving: South Royalton Boys Claim Track Title

  • Rivendell runner Owen Pelletier crosses the finish line in the 100 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.

  • South Royalton's Connor Lambert reacts to winning the pole vault event 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.

  • Runners look over the results of the boys 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.

  • South Royalton's Alexis Taylor-Young atemps the high jump 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.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2017 11:46:34 PM
Modified: 6/2/2017 11:46:44 PM

Chester, Vt. — South Royalton School’s Connor Lambert called Friday “the best birthday of my 17 years on this planet” after all was said and done at the VPA Division IV track and field meet at Green Mountain Union High. Still clinging to the championship trophy that had eluded the Royals a year ago, Lambert said he might not let it go until after the bus ride home.

South Royalton, young and hungry, dominated Friday’s boys events over Northfield and Richford to win its first D-IV state championship since 2013 by a 67.5-point margin. Lambert, a junior captain, won the 110-meter hurdles (16.79 seconds) by a little less than two seconds, won the javelin by seven inches (148 feet, 8 inches) and, most importantly to him, broke a much anticipated D-IV state record in the pole vault (11-8) previously set by South Royalton’s Michael Dunkle in 2013.

Not bad for the birthday boy.

“I wanted that pole vault record since I grabbed a pole and said, ‘This is my thing,’ ” Lambert said. “I feel like pole vault definitely is the most challenging. ... You need a lot of coordination. You need to do a lot of things. I don’t know, I just thought the challenge of it, and the rush of doing it was really awesome. When you shoot yourself up in the air 12 feet, it’s awesome.

“It was the biggest relief of my athletic life since I started doing sports back (when I was) four or five years old,” he added. “I’ve been looking at this since I was a freshman.”

Last spring, South Royalton’s boys missed a title by four points to Northfield as both the boys and girls teams placed second. It also graduated top athletes William Wuttke and MacKinley George and had plenty of questions heading into an uncertain spring.

On Friday, Lambert and his teammates took the D-IV championship meet by storm.

Brais Figueroa Fraga, an exchange student from Spain who said he has been primarily a soccer athlete before joining South Royalton’s track and field team this spring to stay in shape, won the 400 dash (54.62) and 300 hurdles (44.99) and helped the Royals secure wins in the boys 4x100 relay (46.89) and the 4x400 relay, although final results from latter had not been posted as of late Friday night. SoRo also took the 4x800, with runners Nicholas Thornton, Ryan Jones, Jackson McClain and Sam Fisk winning in 9:46.84.

It was the first time in school history, according to Royals track and field coach Shannon Palone, that South Royalton had swept all three relay events. She had a good feeling about her team’s 4x100 and 4x400 going into the meet, but it was the unexpected win at the 4x800 that opened her eyes to the possibility of a title win.

“The 4x800 came out of nowhere,” she said. “We weren’t expecting that. ... I think it made it so they knew they could do it.”

South Royalton’s Eric Taylor, who hurt his hip in the 4x400, won the boys 200 (25.17). Lambert also placed second (120-2) in the discus throw behind Chelsea’s hard-throwing Tristan Larocque. Fisk also scored valuable points placing third in both the 300 hurdles (47.79) and the 3,000 (10:37.78).

“The commitment level is there this year,” Palone said. “It was there last year, too, but we had two juniors that really stepped up, Ryan (Jones) and Connor (Lambert). They held everyone accountable but also really showed that they can lead a team.”

Rivendell’s two boys, Owen Pelletier and Max Haehnel, secured 38 points for fifth place on Friday. Pelletier won the 100 (11.57) and high jump (6-2). Haehnel finished second (10-00.00) in the pole vault behind Lambert.

Sharon’s boys placed sixth with 36 points with no winners, but plenty of high finishers. Dillon Buttner had a strong day, with a second-place finish in the 400 (55.43), a fourth-place finish in the 800 (2:17.43) and a third-place finish and a personal record at discus (117-06).

“I think I had eight or 10 personal bests,” Sharon head coach Kevin Gish said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Whitcomb’s girls team finished fourth with 65 points behind Green Mountain (91), Northfield (86.5) and Richford (74.5). It was Green Mountain’s first team title in 18 years.

The Hornets’ Alexandra Timmins had a solid day in distance events. She won the 1,500 (5:22.75), took second in the 3,000 (12:05.97), third in the 800 (2:46.72) and second in the javelin (92-8). Molly LaFromboise won the discus (81-2) and took third in the javelin (92-4).

South Royalton’s girls settled for seventh with a much smaller team than a year ago. Eliza Mabey finished fourth in both the 800 (2:49.57) and the 3,000 (12:17.34). Sarah Dunkle also edged Richford’s Jalyn Collins in a two-athlete competition in the pole vault, clearing 6-6.

Palone said an immediate goal is to rebuild the girls team, particularly with South Royalton’s boys bringing back much of its roster next spring.

“The girls didn’t do as well as they were hoping to, but that’s a young team, too,” she said. “I think the goal next year is both boys and girls, taking both.”

For Lambert, however, it’ll be hard to match an afternoon like Friday’s.

“My freshman year, we got third place,” Lambert said. “Being able to come from third to second to first (before my senior) year and still have a team that has only two seniors on it and an exchange student. ... Being able to look at the championship next year and say we could probably do that again, it’s awesome.

“It’s a great feeling. I know everyone is really motivated for track. Track is, like, the one thing I think about when I get up in the morning. Every step of the way, I’m thinking, ‘How could I have done better?’ ”

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




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