Back on track: Lebanon High hosts first meet on renovated oval 


Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-26-2023 8:29 PM

LEBANON — Morgan Kantor has been running on the track at Lebanon High since the age of 8. She’s been one of the Raiders’ top sprinters throughout her time with the high school team.

But the old track at Lebanon, which was only about half as thick as a standard synthetic surface and was coming apart in several spots, contributed to her missing six months during her junior year with severe shin splints.

“On our last 100(-meter) straightaway, you couldn’t even run in lane 3 without falling in the divots of the concrete or safely make it without risking rolling your ankles,” said Kantor, now a senior. “I was in (physical therapy) for three months, and then the next three months I switched to doing half PT and half strength training to rebuild all the muscle I lost. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do to get back to where I was.”

The storied Raiders program practiced on the deteriorating track for several years but was unable to hold any high school meets there. Last summer, the track was reconstructed in a $1.6 million project, and the new surface hosted its first meet in 10 years on Tuesday.

Before last year, the track had been resurfaced in 2012, but because the project went to the lowest bidder without concern for quality, the surface quickly began to decay, former coach Andrew Gamble told the Valley News in 2018.

Lebanon principal Ian Smith and current coach Kevin Lozeau spoke at a brief dedication ceremony prior to the meet, as did Jody Stone, the widow of former Raiders assistant coach Chris Stone, who died from a rare form of bone marrow cancer in 2018. Smith recognized former School Board chairman Dick Milius for bringing the project to completion, as well as Brooke Herndon, chairwoman of the Bring Back the Track committee, for her fundraising efforts.

“It’s not often that you look at something and say, ‘If we jump on board and support this, it’s going to help generations down the road,’ ” Lebanon athletic director Mike Stone said. “So kudos to everybody who participated, came forward and stepped up.”

The Bring Back the Track committee, a nonprofit linked to the Friends of Lebanon Recreation, raised nearly $90,000 in donations to reconstruct the track, and the remainder of the cost came from the school district.

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The work began last June, following the 2021-22 school year, and was completed in October.

Senior Birhanu Harriman, who will compete in cross country and track at Georgetown University next year, thrived in his first chance to race at home. He edged out teammate Thomas Wolfe in the 1,600 meters by 0.29 seconds and finished five seconds ahead of Wolfe to win the 3,200.

“We’ve been waiting my whole high school career to have a track we could race on,” Harriman said. “Our team has really grown recently, and being able to compete at home is a really big factor for a lot of kids.”

Tuesday’s meet had a strong Upper Valley flavor, with Vermont Principals Association members Hartford, Thetford and Rivendell joining the hosts, Newport, Stevens and Mount Royal. The Lebanon boys won handily — their 103 points were 15.5 clear of second-place Hartford, while Thetford edged the Raiders on the girls’ side, 66.5-65.

Kantor said she noticed the difference from her first steps on the new track. She finished second to Newport sophomore Maddox Lovely in the 200 meters and was part of first-place teams in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Lebanon will host one more meet this season — the Lebanon Last Chance Meet, so named because it will represent one of the last chances for athletes to qualify for the state championships, against Hanover, Newport and Hartford on May 16.

“The first day of outdoor season, we were still inside because it was kind of cold and snowy,” Kantor said. “Immediately, I was asking, ‘When can we go outside?’ We went outside a couple days earlier than we should have, when it hit 50 degrees, because we were all so excited. The first few steps I ran, I could feel the crazy differences and how much better it was.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at or 603-727-3302.