Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- Senior Marc Brandmeyer wasted no time turning the Marble Valley League cross country championships into a last-hurrah victory lap.
Sophomore Jazmine Hollister, on the comeback trail from a broken ankle, charged to the finish line unaware how important her performance, sixth on her own team, would mean to the title chase.
Any way you slice it, it was a golden day for the Mount Anthony Union High School cross country teams.
Brandmeyer and the Patriot boys swept the top five spots to win their third straight MVL title while Hollister's run broke a tie between MAU and Rutland in the girls event, clinching a championship repeat for the hosts on Tuesday at Willow Park.
"I was pretty confident the boys were going to take this. I just wanted everybody to go out there and save their legs -- and they still win it, still give me a perfect score," MAU coach Jim Dulin said. "I think with no pressure on them they all ran faster times."
And the girls race?
"Too close for me," Dulin said with a smile.
Rutland, led by winner Chloe Levins (21:48.6), tied Mount Anthony, 31-31, with five runners scored. The Raiders also took third, splitting up MAU's Erica Hale (second, 22:04.6) and Erin Anderson (22:12.1), the team's lone senior.
But the Patriots cleaned up afterward with Kate Ahearn (eighth), Emily Smith (ninth), Abby Malmborg (11th), Hollister (12th) and Cora Delucia (13th), a bunch that crowded the competition out of decisive points.
"We have amazing grouping," Anderson said. "We all have really groups that work together in workouts. Erica and I worked off each other this whole race. The 3, 4, and 5 girls caught a girl right in the end -- that was huge.
"I was sad I didn't catch [third place] because it was my last shot on this course, but I'm really happy it turned out this way," Anderson said.
Despite just missing out on fifth place, Hollister's performance validated the months of recover since suffering a stress fracture during the spring track season.
"I just try my hardest to catch the person in front of me. Once I pass them I try to pass the next one," she said. "I had no clue it was going to come down to me."
On the other hand, the Mount Anthony boys, utterly dominant, faced no such hand-wringing drama.
Relaxed and on his own most of the race, Brandmeyer (16:56.1) became the first runner to crack the 17-minute mark on the hilly track -- improving his own course record by 31 seconds -- to win by nearly a minute.
It was the senior's seventh victory in nine races this year. He took second in the other two.
"I feel really good because I felt like I was going slow [today]," Brandmeyer said.
Runner-up Luke Johnas (17:51.5) was the only other runner to beat 18 minutes. Andrew Brandmeyer, Marc's brother, claimed third, while Will Buckley (fourth) and Zach Redden (fifth) completed the perfect score.
MAU (15 points) finished 36 points clear of second-place Rutland. Burr and Burton Academy (84 points) took third, followed by Brattleboro.
"I feel we did really well as a team. Coming in a couple weeks before states, it's definitely strong to have a good performance like this," Johnas said. "Individually we all did really well."
The Greenwich Invitational on Saturday is Mount Anthony's last race before the state championships on Oct. 27.