WOODFORD -- Mount Anthony Union High School nordic ski coach Bruce Smith also coaches cross-country running in the fall, a sport where tight grouping is paramount.
That philosophy came into play at the Marble Valley League Classic ski championships at Prospect Mountain, where both the girls and boys had all four scoring skiers in the top 10 en route to a sweep.
"They pushed each other and skied as a team," Smith said. "They didn't ski against each other, they skied with each other."
In the girls race, Abby Malmborg was the highest Patriot finisher with a second-place run behind Rutland's Chloe Levins.
Malmborg's time was 17 minutes, 57 seconds, just ahead of Woodstock sisters Abby and Lauren Kaija.
"It felt really good the whole time, I felt that I had the team behind me," Malmborg said. "It's nice for my senior year to be home at Prospect."
Woodstock took third, fourth and seventh overall -- but the Patriots had Molly O'Callaghan, Allie Boudreau and Erica Hale finish eighth, ninth and 10th.
In the team race, Mount Anthony had 29 points -- ahead of Woodstock's 32, Rutland 45, BBA's 75 and Otter Valley's 134.
"We wanted to split [Woodstock] up and right now three points ahead and that's because of the grouping," Hale said. "That's how good our grouping is, you never know who will come in first."
BBA's top skier was Helena Bigelow, scoring a sixth-place finish in 18:38.
On the boys side, Luke Keenan finished third overall, the highest MAU finish. He skied the course in 14:02, behind Woodstock's Zane Fields and Rutland's Issac Wright. But as with the girls race, the Patriots also took fifth (Will Buckley), sixth (Andy Barlow) and eighth (Nick Altland) to win the event with 22 points.
Woodstock had 36 points in second, while Rutland's 43, BBA's 59 and Brattleboro's 61 rounded out the scoring.
"The conditions were nice and it's a fun course," Keenan said. "Everyone performed really well. Grouping is really key, when the top skiers are that close together,it works out well. We try to minimize the gap in between our skiers."
Burr and Burton had two skiers in the top 10, Scott Mooney just off the podium in fourth and Thomas Kittross in 10th.
"I told the kids today, it's all about tuning up for states, working hard every single minute," Smith said. "It's important to be good at both [freestyle and classic] types of skiing."
The schools finish the MVL championships with the relay on Monday. That event is worth 10 points.
"Woodstock is stronger in skate, but we're better in classic," Hale said. "We still have a chance for Monday, we're in it to win it."