Patriot Nordic ski teams aim for top spot

BENNINGTON — After both the Mount Anthony boys and girls Nordic ski teams finished in the top five at the state meet one year ago, the goal for Rob Short's squad is clear.

They want to win the state championship.

"Both teams had meetings and both have the same goal set, we want to win the states and I think we can do it," said Short, in his second season leading the Patriots. "With last year's success, we can reach that next step and if everything works out, we'll accomplish it."

The boys finished third behind Mount Mansfield and Brattleboro a year ago and they have a huge group working hard to continue up the podium.

Led by captains Noah Payne and Jeson Li, the MAU boys have a ton of athletic talent returning, including some lacrosse players and a bunch of soccer players.

Payne was fifth in the 5K classic at the state meet, while junior Jack Drew was seventh overall.

The boys graduated a couple of top finishers in Austin Buttle and Liam Drew, but with 24 guys fighting for varsity and junior varsity, the competition this season is fierce.

"That's one of the benefits of having a bigger team, that there's a lot of competition between the boys," Short said. "Everyone is fighting for those top eight spots."

Eight skiers represent the school and the top four score team points at the state meet, which this year takes place at Craftsbury Outdoor Center for the freestyle event and Rikert Nordic Center in Middlebury for the classic race.

Two new guys expected to make a splash are Adam Sampsell and Austin Martinka. Both seniors are top-level athletes in their other sports and Short said they've worked really hard to become some of the stronger skiers.

"They are new, decided to try it and they're learning very quickly," Short said.

A few others that could make some noise for MAU this season include Emiliano Salazar, Owen Hansen and Max Noyes.

"They'll be in that group between fifth and eighth, but any of them could jump up into the next tier," Short said. "There's a lot of spots up for grabs."

Short said he has high expectations for freshman Charlie Dobson, someone who skied on the middle school team last year, to be in the mix for a varsity spot.

On the girls side, a massive amount of experience returns after a fifth-place finish at the state tournament a year ago.

They are led by captains Natalie Jelley and Isabelle Small and while the team is smaller (only 15 on the roster), that experience will pay dividends.

"All of that experience will pass through to the younger members of the team," Short said.

The top four skiers for the girls include Jelley, who finished seventh in the classic race at states, Maggie Payne, Sarah Umphlett and Kylee Hall. All four were in the top 14 at states.

Short also has a handful of skiers who could make some noise as the season progresses, including Molly Cohen, twins Ella and Chloe Cichanowski, Zoe Lang and Zoe Palisano. He also cites freshman Sadie Korzec as someone who could be in the mix by the end of the season in February.

"There's been a lot of improvement in the offseason," Short said.

Short said he feels the ski teams at Mount Anthony has turned a corner with the building of the middle school team, which has 22 skiers.

"That puts us at about 60 skiers total and that's huge. That will feed our program for years to come," Short said."

MAU hosts the first event of the season on Saturday at Prospect Mountain, a race with teams from Burr and Burton, Rutland, Brattleboro and Mount Greylock all scheduled to attend.

Boys roster: Noah Payne, Jeson Li, Max Noyes, Ian Young, Brendon Bossong, Adam Sampsell, Austin Martinka, Thomas Lake, Sam Chaney, Emiliano Salazar, Izaiah Rhodes, Dominick Metcalf, Payton Sharby, Garrett Joly, Andrew Giorgi, Jacob Lincourt, Jack Drew, Colin Gauthier, Owen Hansen, Chris Nolan, Aneesh Kamath, Callum DeBoer, Charlie Dobson.

Girls roster: Natalie Jelley, Isabelle Small, Amelia Schroeder, Zoe Lang, Sarah Umphlett, Molly Cohen, Kylee Hall, Lauren Johnson, Chloe Cichanowski, Ella Cichanowski, Chloe Stitcher, Zoe Palisano, Maggie Payne, Sadie Korzec, Haley Breese.


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