MANCHESTER -- After winning their third straight state championship -- the fourth in five years -- a select group from the Burr and Burton Academy boys alpine ski team has been chosen to compete in New Hampshire this weekend against some of the top skiers east of the Mississippi River.
The Eastern High School Championships, at Cannon Mountain, will pit skiers from all six New England states and beyond in both the giant slalom and slalom events on Saturday and Sunday.
Each state team has 12 skiers -- male and female -- and BBA will represent one-third of the Vermont boys team.
Ben Alexopoulos, Tom Morgantini, Andrew Sherras and Richard Sherras will ski for the Green Mountain State. Tanner McGrath made the team as well, but declined the invitation to take part in another race this weekend.
The girls team also includes Bulldog green and gold. Sanderson Kemp, Olivia Burwell and Katie Bourque were chosen to ski, but only Bourque will compete at the Easterns after Kemp and Burwell declined the invitation.
"That’s the most that Burr and Burton has ever qualified for the Eastern High School Championships in the boys and in the girls," said BBA coach Pete McNealus.
The Bulldogs come into Easterns riding a high from the state meet.
Burr and Burton dominated the field, easily securing the state championship with a team score of 59 for the giant slalom and slalom events -- a 63-point cushion between them and second place finisher Woodstock.
"Their performance was just phenomenal," said BBA coach Pete McNealus. "Each one of those kids threw down their best run. Š They came to race and they came to really ski as a team. They weren’t concentrated on being an individual, they were concentrated on skiing a solid, good run."
The victory was another step toward the ultimate goal for several members of the team -- winning four consecutive state championships.
"It was a very joyous occasion just like any state championship," said McNealus. "They just couldn’t take that smile off their face[s] for anything. They were just so extremely happy, relieved; just a feeling of [euphoria]."
BBA took an 18-point lead ahead of the rest of the field following the giant slalom portion of the championships.
Alexopoulos placed third overall in the event with a time of 48.10. Andrew Sherras and McGrath finished sixth and seventh with times of 48.92 and 49.09, respectively. Tom Morgantini rounded out the BBA scoring by placing 12th with a combined time of 49.74.
Richard Sherras and Tim Swinarton also finished in the top 20, placing 13th and 19th with combined times of 49.90 and 50.47.
The Bulldogs pulled ahead in the slalom event, packing five members of the squad into the top 20.
MMU’s Tristian Palola took the top spot in the race, recording a combined time of 1:24.95 in the slalom event. But McGrath and Andrew Sherras placed third and fourth with combined times of 1:26.12 and 1:28.65 to lead the way for the Bulldogs.
Richard Sherras placed 11th with a combined time of 1:31.45 and Swinarton was BBA’s fourth scorer taking the 13th spot with a combined time of 1:32.36. Alexopoulos was close on his heels, finishing 14th with a combined time 1:32.51.