Patriot boys take lead at MVL championship

WOODFORD — Nine inches of fresh snow made the Marble Valley League championship course at Prospect Mountain a tough one to navigate.

But for the Mount Anthony boys, the home-course advantage was a good one as they won the Classic event, the first of three rounds in the league championships.

MAU finished with 17 points, just ahead of Brattleboro's 19. The only other team, Rutland, was third with 70. Burr and Burton and Woodstock individuals competed but didn't have enough for a team score.

Brattleboro's Isaac Freitas-Eagan won the race in 17 minutes, 36 seconds, but Mount Anthony's Jack Drew (18:36), Austin Buttle (18:37) and Noah Payne (20:11) finished second, third and fifth, respectively. Payne recovered from a fall on course during his run.

"Austin was in front of me the whole way so I could use him to stay up with them," Drew said. "I passed him on the last hill, a shake-and-bake, 'Talladega Nights' kind of thing."

Brattleboro had its next three finishers — Henry Thurber in seventh, Evan Koch right behind in eighth and Galen Fletcher 10th, but Garrett Joly crossed the finish line in 11th (21:24) to help MAU to the team victory.

"The really great thing about Garrett's run is that he was tight with the Brattleboro guys and that made the difference," said MAU coach Rob Short. "The grouping with Noah, Austin and Jack has been really tight, so seeing that Noah fell back and Garrett and others stepped up is great to see. As long as we pack it in, it makes [the team] score more competitive."

Drew said the course was soft with the new snow.

"Some of it wasn't packed on the downhills, you have to step really fast around the turns and it's hard to have quick feet when it's mushy," Drew said.

BBA's Carter Hall was fourth overall in 19:19 and Josh Pearson was ninth in 21:06.

"We seem to be stronger in Classic, it'll be interesting to see what happens next week," Short said. "It always comes down to the relays, which is good. It should be a preview of states going for the top three spots [in a few weeks]."

The Colonels were best on the girls side, beating MAU 16-25 in the team score. Burr and Burton was third with 49, while Rutland and Woodstock

Olivia Brooks won the race for Woodstock in 22:34 and Brattleboro's Elery Loggia (23:19) and Sarah Gallagher (23:23) were second and third overall to propel the Colonels. Bella Thurber was sixth and Liz Morse was ninth.

Sarah Umphlett was the top Patriot finisher in fourth, finishing in 23:46. Maggie Payne was seventh overall in 24:28.

"Sarah and Maggie had awesome races today, they both really stepped up," Short said. "Maggie was smiling after the race and you know that's good. I think she surprised herself."

Bethany Hassett was eighth and Natalie Jelley finished 10th.

"Bethany has been consistent all year. Getting the girls to group together has been a little harder this year, but today they were together more than usual," Short said. "Natalie is coming off being sick and we had a lot of falls today. The soft conditions creates a berm on the downhills, making the corners more narrow and nerve-wracking for inexperienced skiers."

Burr and Burton's Leah Mowry was fifth overall in 24:16, followed by Brennan Harris in 13th, Maggie Brown was 14th and Quinn Everts was 25th.

"We have to make up a little ground next week, clearly," Short said. "The girls are skating (freestyle) better than [racing Classic] and I'll have healthier kids. The flu has been taking everyone out, hopefully we can take care of it now and be ready for states."

The second round of the MVL championships will be on Wednesday at the VABEC trails, hosted by Brattleboro. Then on Feb. 18, the relay events will determine the winners.


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