BENNINGTON — With the news that the winter season will go on — for most Vermont sports athletes — some are happy and others not so much.
The decision to nix wrestling and indoor track will deprive local sports fans of some of the most exciting moments of the high school season. At the same time, the chances for season and career milestones will go by the wayside.
Hayden Gaudette and Landon Davis are going into their junior seasons for the Mount Anthony wrestling team, both having won championships as freshmen and sophomores.
With the cancellation, neither will have the opportunity — at least as of today — to win a third. It also takes away the chance to do what only 10 wrestlers in the history of Mount Anthony have done — win four Vermont state championships.
Team-wise, Mount Anthony’s 32-year long state championship streak is put on pause. The streak isn’t broken, but the cancellation of the season might be the only way MAU doesn’t win.
Indoor track is out because the meets are held at colleges, including the University of Vermont and Dartmouth, and they aren’t allowing outside groups.
Individually, it will deprive someone like junior Isaiah Brunache, who was second in the shot put and weight throw behind a senior from St. Johnsbury, a chance at winning a pair of state championships. Morgan Washburn, also a junior, was second in the weight throw at the state meet last February.
When the governor put out his guidance for winter sports, it was not unexpected that a high-contact sport like wrestling would be canceled, but look even deeper and it’s tough for everyone involved.
MAU ready to reload for next seasonBENNINGTON — The 2020 Vermont high school football season was as unique a set up for competitive football as you’ll ever see.
Linemen transformed into pass-catching, touchdown-grabbing players during the first and third quarters. On the other side of the ball, they were forced into becoming defensive backs instead of being in the trenches.
The “big skills” also became quarterbacks during those quarters.
Then, of course, with the one-hand touch rule, unnecessary roughness penalties would be called if a defender pushed a player to the ground while attempting a “tackle.” A very odd sight to see on a football field.
While some of these changes will not translate when the 7-on-7 format goes back to the traditional 11-on-11 tackle game that everyone is accustomed to, this year did give those paying attention a glimpse of what to expect next season when tackle football hopefully returns.
Mount Anthony is losing a lot of experience from their senior class. Gavin Johnson is one of the most skilled players in the state, but the loss of talent goes far beyond him. It will be difficult to replace fellow receivers Jack Ware, Brody Bossong and Kaiden Simpson’s production. Hayden King showed great hands as a tight end, and had one of his best games of the season in the regional championship against Rutland.
Caleb Hay, the team’s quarterback, is also moving on.
Expect an open competition to fill Hay’s spot between sophomores Gavin Schnoop and Braeden Billert. Billert was the quarterback for the big skills this year, so the advantage would lean his way. Both players showed flashes during the 2020 season.
Hayden Gaudette was a standout for the Patriots this year as a junior, expect him to take even more of an expanded role in 2021.
Austin Grogan expanded his role as the season went on, and by the end played a crucial role in MAU’s offense. If Grogan can continue that momentum into next year, it will give MAU some much needed production from the receiver position.
On the line, Andrew Gilbert will provide experience for the Patriots. Gilbert’s presence should give MAU some reliable protection.
Looking at special teams, Josh Worthington will return to his kicking duties for his junior season. The Patriots will also be returning fellow kicker Sophia Kipp for her senior season.
Whether football returns to tackle or remains 7-on-7 next season, MAU has some holes to fill on their roster. They appear to be in a position to do so.