2020 Chittenden County H.S. cross-country running outlook

Key returnees and newcomers and outlooks of the eight high school cross-country running programs in Chittenden County:

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BURLINGTON

Coach: Ryan Robitaille (fifth season)

Last season: Girls, boys each finished third at Division I state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Rebecca Cunningham, junior; Elizabeth Crawford, senior; Maeve Fairfax, junior; Sloane Gillian, junior; Aya Goldstein, sophomore; Greta Kilburn, sophomore; Jordyn O’Brien, sophomore. Boys — Declan Kervick, senior; Davis Rock-Jones, senior; Wyatt Harte, senior. 

Key newcomers: Girls — Rosie Brown, sophomore. Boys — Jackson Haugh, senior; Thomas Dion, sophomore; Taige Tomlinson, senior; Kai Donnelly, sophomore; Jason Huynh, junior.

Outlook: The Seahorse girls saw several standouts depart the program, including Isabel Vivanco, last year’s state runner-up. But BHS has potential to remain a contender with Cunningham (12th at states in 2019), Kilburn (20th) and Fairfax (24th) leading the charge. “(We’re) looking to continue to stay among the strongest teams in the state with lots of big improvements by returners,” Robitaille said. The BHS boys return four of their top five runners, all of whom nabbed top-25 spots at 2019 states. But the Seahorses lost their No. 1, Wondu Summa, to graduation. Robitaille said he’s optimistic his experienced runners can step up to fill the leadership void.

CHAMPLAIN VALLEY

From left, Drew Buley, Gavin Schaaf, Matthew Servin, Parker Soares, Caleb Nye, Skyler Heninger and Matthew Ireland collect the Division I championship trophy at the Vermont State Cross Country Meet at Thetford Academy on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. The Redhawks beat Essex, 46-73.

Coach: Scott Bliss (22nd season)

Last season: Girls, boys swept championships at the Division I state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Alicia Veronneau, senior; Alice Larson, senior; Jasmine Nails, junior; Finnegan Mittelstadt, junior; Lila Taylor, junior. Boys — Matt Servin, sophomore; Caleb Nye, senior; Matt Ireland, senior; Skyler Heininger, senior; Gavin Schaaf, senior; Drew Buley, junior.

Key newcomers: Girls — Ava Rohrbaugh, sophomore; Avery Murray, sophomore; Gretta White, freshman; Katherine Veronneau, senior. Boys — Kai Hillier, junior; Brennan Militello, sophomore.

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Outlook: Of five runners who nabbed top-15 finishes at last year’s states, four are back in the fold for the CVU girls, paced by reigning champ Veronneau. The front-line depth also includes Larson, the 2018 individual state winner and third a year ago, Nails (fourth) and Mittelstadt (seventh). The dynastic Redhawks, two-time defending New England champions, are aiming to extend their in-state dominance with a 12th straight D-I crown this fall. The CVU boys welcome back six out of their top 7 runners as they seek a repeat title. Servin (fourth at 2019 states), Nye (seventh), Buley (ninth), Schaaf (12th) and Ireland (14th) give CVU an edge with a shortened race schedule. “This is a season of uncertainty for many and we will have to wait and see how we react to everything,” Bliss said.

COLCHESTER

Kyra Doloughty of Colchester competes during the Essex Invitational.

Coach: Morgan Samler (boys; 15th season); Cheryl Aley (girls; fifth season)

Last season: Girls finished sixth, boys eighth at Division I state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Kyra Doloughty, senior; Anna Tarte, sophomore; Rowan MacArdle, sophomore. Boys — Thomas Buckley, junior; Sebastian Alessi, senior; Jack Kelley, sophomore.

Key newcomer: Girls — Sally Zuk, junior.

Outlook: While small in numbers, the Laker girls are motivated to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish at states. Top runner and captain Doloughty returns for her fourth season, and is the squad’s lone senior. Doloughty opened 2020 by finishing sixth at the Lakers’ home invitational earlier this week. Zuk returns after missing 2019 with an injury. “Most of the team came into our season with a solid running base that we hope will pay off,” Aley said. On the boys side, Buckley made a quick impact at his home invitational, seizing first place, while teammate Kelley and Alessi added top-10 slots.

ESSEX

Essex huddles together during the Essex Invitational cross country meet at the Essex Tree Farm on Saturday afternoon August 31, 2019 in Essex, Vermont.

Coach: Katie White (girls; 10th season); Derek Martisus (boys; second season)

Last season: Girls, boys each finished second at Division I state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Natalie Preston, senior; Heidi Stewart, junior; Scarlet Stimson, sophomore. Boys — Brady Martisus, senior; Atticus Phinney-Anderson, senior; Lucius Karki, junior; Luke Miklus, sophomore.

Key newcomers: Girls — Tanisha Gerg, sophomore. Boys — Too early to tell.

Outlook: The Essex girls have holes to fill in their top seven with the graduation of four veteran runners. Track standout Lizzie Martell, eighth last year, was among the losses, but Preston (fifth), Stimson (10th) and Stewart make up a strong foundation as Essex attempts to remain a top contender. After titles in 2017 and 2018 and a runner-up finish a year ago, the Hornet boys will need to rebuild after also losing four of their top seven runners from 2019. While those losses include Henry Farrington, the two-time champ, the Hornets do have Brady Martisus, second to Farrington last fall, to lean on for championship-level experience. Phinney-Anderson, Karki and Miklus give Essex solid footing as they search for a No. 5 runner.

MILTON 

Coach: Tim Richmond (first season)

Last season: Girls finished 11th, boys 14th at Division II state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Anna Kaigle, Sophia Troland. Boys — Michael McNeil, senior; Carson Cowhig, senior; Ethan Roussin, senior.

Key newcomers: None.

Outlook: Although Milton’s total roster count is just 10 runners, the Yellowjackets have several promising racers. Kaigle topped the girls field and Troland was eighth at the Colchester Invitational earlier this week while McNeil was eighth on the boys side. Milton’s abbreviated schedule includes a pair of home meets at Arrowhead Golf Course.

MOUNT MANSFIELD

Coach: Bill Eschholz (boys; 23rd season); Mary Lavoie (girls; first season)

Last season: Boys finished seventh, girls eighth at Division I state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Snow Lindemuth, junior; Charis Love, senior; Theresa Christiansen, senior; Tess Drury, sophomore; Luna Hall, senior. Boys —  Shea White, senior; Owen Drury, senior; Noe Lindemuth, senior; James DeBay, senior; Willem Smith, junior; Sam Diffenderfer, junior; Carl Nelson, senior.

Key newcomers: Girls — Emma Page, junior. Boys — Kyan Chipman, sophomore; Taylor Carlson, freshman; Shea Smith, sophomore.

Outlook: The Cougar girls saw their No. 1 runner of a year ago, Lily Porth, graduate, but an influx of five freshmen has boosted roster depth for a youthful squad. Drury, the top returnee from states, Lindemuth and Page, a newcomer, should lead the way. The MMU boys lost two key seniors to graduation, but summer training went well thanks to White, Drury and Lindemuth stepping up, according to Eschholz. “The mood in Jericho has been very upbeat as the Cougars head into the season and look to improve on last year’s seventh-place finish,” Eschholz said.

RICE

Rice's Emily Bloom makes her way towards the finish line during the Essex Invitational cross country meet at the Essex Tree Farm on Saturday afternoon August 31, 2019 in Essex, Vermont.

Coach: Mark McKenna (12th season)

Last season: Girls finished second, boys seventh at Division III state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Emily Bloom, senior; Chasca King, senior. Boys — Ben Hershey, senior; Will Noonan, junior; Matthew Senesac, sophomore; Joe Canney, sophomore.

Key newcomers: Girls — Zealy Bourgault, senior; Gabriella Allbee, freshman. Boys —Ben Harrison, junior; Zeb Barton, junior; Anthony Viola, freshman.

Outlook: The Rice girls will bank on youth — two-thirds of their roster are freshmen — to reload after seeing a trio of key seniors graduate. Emily Bloom, Rice’s No. 1 runner, is back and started off her senior year with a second-place finisher at the season-opening BFA-St. Albans meet last weekend. Bloom was third at D-III states in 2019. “It will be exciting to see how our young runners develop,” McKenna said. The Rice boys, however, are loaded with returnees, seven in all, as they try to climb into contention. “We’re expecting big things from this group,” McKenna said.

SOUTH BURLINGTON

Sierra Fisher (center) is a key returning runner for the Wolves.

Coach: Geoff Bennett (boys; 15th season); Torey Olson (girls; first season)

Last season: Boys fourth, girls seventh at Division I state meet.

Key returnees: Girls — Sierra Fisher, junior; Holly Margulius, senior; Jane Kakalec, junior; Mia Carmolli, sophomore; Caitlin Cournoyer, senior; Makenna Cannon, sophomore. Boys — Patrick Sweeny, junior; Vaughn Larkin, sophomore; Dylan Palmer, junior.

Key newcomers: Girls — Too early to tell. Boys — Silas O’Brien, junior; Haias Eriksson, senior; Bennett Bridges, sophomore; Austin Simone, freshman; Rowan Nenninger, freshman; Jacob Davis, senior.

Outlook: The South Burlington girls have plenty to offer in coach Olson’s first season in charge. Kakalec is the Wolves’ top returner from states, Carmolli aims to better her freshman campaign and Fisher and Margulius opened 2020 with a pair of top-10 finishes at the BFA meet. The Wolves also have a strong incoming freshmen group. On the boys side, the Wolves lost four seniors to graduation, including their top three runners from states. Sweeny, 26th at states in 2019, has started well, nabbing runner-up honors at the BFA meet. “The goal for this young team is to finish in the top 6 at the state championship,” Bennett said.

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Contact Alex Abrami at 660-1848 or aabrami@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @aabrami5.

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