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‘Well-rounded’ White River Valley girls track and field team fulfills promise with title

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2022 10:24:54 PM
Modified: 6/17/2022 10:24:44 PM

A year after the White River Valley boys won their first track and field state championship since the 2018 merger of South Royalton and Whitcomb-Rochester, it was the girls’ turn to bring home a title.

The Wildcats finished second at the VPA Division IV championships to Northfield last season, but they closed the deal emphatically in 2022, finishing 39 points ahead of second-place Green Mountain. WRV had first-place finishes in six of the 18 events.

“They had a pretty strong showing last year, and I had a bunch of kids at indoor who were successful, so I had a pretty good idea they’d have a good year,” Wildcats head coach David Mattern said. “We really had a strong, well-rounded team. It was probably one of the better-rounded girls’ teams we’ve had in a while, in terms of having successful distance runners and sprinters and a good combination of throwers as well.”

Field event athletes have requisite space on campus to practice — attached to the school fields are a long jump pit, high jump and pole vault mats, and rings for shot put and discus — but without a track, WRV’s runners will practice either on the grass fields or out on the roads.

Junior Jillian Barry, the Wildcats’ leading scorer in soccer and second-leading scorer in basketball this past season, took home the title in the long jump with a leap of 4.96 meters, but her signature performance came in the triple jump, where she broke her own Division IV state record at 10.26 meters. Barry’s winning jump was nearly a full meter better than the second-place finisher, and the gap between her and the silver medalist was larger than the gap between second place and sixth. Barry also finished fourth in the high jump and was part of the 4x100 meter relay team that took second.

“That Friday, I was very nervous,” Barry said. “Triple jump, there were a few meets where I just wasn’t completing the jump with consistent marks. I spent more time on it in practice, and told myself when I took off just to keep going and not think about stopping. It all came back together, and it boosted my confidence going into the meet.”

The following weekend, Barry competed in the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Championships in New Britain, Conn. against top jumpers from all six New England states. That meet gave her a firsthand look at the track and field culture at certain schools that White River Valley can’t possibly have with fewer than 200 students.

“It was definitely intimidating. My jumps weren’t bad, but being there and seeing everyone else from around New England, there are girls jumping four or five feet farther than me as a freshman,” Barry said. “I was talking to a few different girls, and one of them was telling me that her high school is split into different buildings, and each building has a focus on a sport. She has to be at the school where they focus on track. They’re all there to do the same thing, versus here, where I’m a three-sport athlete, and it’s just so different.”

Sophomore Anita Miller was the star distance runner for the Wildcats at the state meet, winning the 1,500 in 5:04 and the 3,000 in 11:49. Miller plays soccer and runs cross country in the fall, typically going to cross country practice first and then moving over to soccer.

In the pole vault, senior Wynter Simack took first place as the only competitor to clear the bar. She also took second in the javelin throw, with junior Eleanor Prestridge in third. Prestridge was the bronze medalist in the shot put and discus as well.

“It was a great feeling to be there, and it’s a great community,” Miller said. “Everybody was super supportive of each other, which I haven’t always felt in other sports, but I definitely feel it during track. Specifically at that meet, it was just great.”

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

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