×

Calling All Runners: Thetford’s Woods Trail Run Draws a Large Gathering

  • Hartford teammates Lucas Benson (in bandana) and Drew Boyce are off the blocks with over 160 other competitors in one of eight high school races for boys and girls at the 28th annual Woods Trail Run in Thetford, Vt., on Oct. 6, 2018. Benson finished with a time of 22:09 and Boyce was at 22:37. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Hannah Falcone loops back towards the woods during the 28th annual Woods Trail Run in Thetford, Vt., on Oct. 6, 2018. Falcone finished with a time of 28:51. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Thomas Glass, right, digs in to finish only a half-second behind Rutland's Phillip Wessing and his time of 22:45 during the 28th annual Woods Trail Run in Thetford, Vt., on Oct. 6, 2018. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Thetford's Layla Hanissian (2071) winds through the Woods Trail Run course with her competitors in Thetford, Vt., on Oct. 6, 2018. Hanissian finished with a time of 25:20. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, October 07, 2018

Thetford — Two thousand runners from six different states convened at Thetford Academy for Saturday’s 28th annual Woods Trail Run.

The bustling event included representatives from more than 100 schools throughout New England, according to the race director, Blendon Salls.

“We have a group from Rhode Island that’s come here for 27 years and they just continue to come,” Salls said. “We have E.O. Smith (High School) out of Connecticut. We kind of do this tradeoff where our kids go down to E.O. Smith and stay the night (with parents of team members). They go to their meet early in the season and the same thing happens when they come up here for Woods Trail.”

The Woods Trail run holds significance for Vermont runners because they will be returning to Thetford Hill on Oct. 27, for the VPA state meets.

“It’s more of like a scoping-out competition thing because this is the state course,” said Tyrus Rosten, an Oxbow senior. “Usually, you get a feel for where people are going to be at states from here.”

Rosten’s mentality was echoed by Jody Chevalier, Missisquoi Union High’s head coach, who oversaw 18 competitors on Saturday.

“We have states here at the end,” Chevalier said. “This is for us to pre-race. It’s also beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to come here?”

Chevalier praised Thetford’s Daniel Grossman 5K Woods Trail, which has established itself as a hub of high school cross country in the Northeast.

“I think it is (the best race venue in Vermont),” she said. “Clean course. They have a hundred volunteers, they have wonderful timing, the community is great. And it’s beautiful — fall.”

Saturday’s all-day event was divided into 12 race categories, beginning in the morning with the junior-high girls, followed by the boys. High school runners were divided into five seed groups (per gender) based on their previous times.

The overall winner was Jack Yanko, of Amherst-Pelham (Mass.) with a time of 16:32.5. Cali Coffin of Nashua South High School (N.H.) was the female winner at 18:40.4.

Madeline Wolfe, a Lebanon High junior, pointed out one of the effects of Saturday’s format.

“It’s definitely such a big race, and this seeding’s different because normally it’s just a varsity and a JV race, or sometimes there’s a JV-C (race) as well,” Wolfe said. “This seeding is definitely interesting, because you sort of know you’re running with people that are your same speed.”

Competing in Saturday’s second-seed race, Wolfe found herself near the back, whereas in smaller races, she normally tends toward the middle of the pack.

“It’s sort of a different mindset knowing that people are expected to finish around where you’re trying to hit,” Wolfe said.

The Woods Trail run is known by high school runners as an opportunity to test their skills against the best in the region. Such a challenge can feel daunting at times, according to Wolfe’s Raiders teammate, Emma Herndon.

“It’s kind of scary, because there’s such a wide mix,” Herndon said. “Our school is technically D-III this year, so I enjoy getting to race against bigger schools that are D-I because I know that they’re better competition. But I guess you just need to keep in mind that ultimately I’m racing against myself, not them. It’s nice to be able to run against them, though.”

Riley Shepherd, of Woodstock, was the Upper Valley’s top male finisher in 18th place with a time of 17:40.82. Hanover’s Jack Lynch was 28th (18:00.35), ahead of teammates Sam Murray (31st, 18:03.37) and Daniel Frost (53rd, 18:26.85). Thetford’s Owen Deffner was 43rd (18:17.45), and Lebanon’s Cody Davis was 47th (18:22.46).

Sharon’s Laila Reimanis paced area females with a 41st-place finish (21:30.29). Hanover’s Leila Trummel was 42nd (21:35.46); teammate Charlotte Tagupa was 74th.

Notes: Salls, in his third year as TA’s athletic director, was trained for his role by one of his predecessors, Dave McGinn, now the AD at St. Johnsbury Academy and Mark Pichette, the meet’s former co-director and current assistant director. … Salls said roughly 1,000 runners will compete in the state meet later this month. ... The Woods Trail DJ stayed busy, playing inspirational music at key times during the races. … Thetford alumna Emily Grossman Reilly, was on hand Saturday with a small running contingency from Ashland, Mass. Grossman Reilly was the New England X-C Champion in 1993. … TA hosts the New England meet every five years, with the next installment planned for 2020.