BETHEL, Maine — U-32 Nordic earned its first state championship sweep in program history last Monday, but there wasn’t much time to soak it all in.
Four days after the feat, the Raiders clipped into their bindings and made their way to the start line again. And this time they cleaned up at the regional level.
Eight underclassmen from the East Montpelier school helped Vermont claim a decisive victory over Maine during the Under-16 Eastern Championships. The Green Mountain State took control of the event during Friday’s opening races and added an exclamation point with a relay victory Sunday. Runner-up Maine edged third-place New Hampshire and fourth-place Massachusetts, while New York was a distant fifth.
The Raiders brought the largest contingent in program history to the three-day festival, with sophomore Jed Kurts emerging as the individual champion. The event kicked off Friday and Kurts wasted no time, earning a second-place result in the boys 5-kilometer freestyle race. He finished in 13 minutes, 6.5 seconds, following up his individual freestyle crown from the state meet.
U-32’s athletes competed for a variety of clubs, but the nucleus of the state championship team was still well-represented. Hans Krokenberger placed third (13:20.6), followed by fellow Raiders Sam Clark (ninth, 13:46.4), Tzevi Schwartz (12th, 13:55), Cameron Thompson (35th, 14:47.1) and Oliver Hanson (53rd, 15:23). Former U-32 racer Aiden Casey (27th, 14:22.5) and Harwood’s Carlton Cummiskey (54th, 15:13.9) also competed.
On the girls’ side, U-32’s May Lamb (11th, 15:45.3) and Ayla Bodach-Turner (50th, 17:28.3) carried their momentum from states into Friday’s 5K freestyle. Another former U-32 athlete, Calais native Aine Fannon, placed 42nd in 17:04.8. Harwood’s Mackenzie Greenberg (47th, 17:21.3) and Peoples Academy’s Weslie Carlson (93rd, 19:58.1) were also in the mix.
Casey was on fire in Saturday’s 5K classic, finishing third in 15:19.6. Not far behind were Clark (seventh, 15:31.5), Krokenberger (10th, 15:41.2), Kurts (12th, 15:43.8) and Schwartz (13th, 15:43.9). The other Central Vermonters were Thompson (28th, 16:22), Hansen (39th, 16:57.2) and Cummiskey (52nd, 17:24)
The top area finishers for the girls 5K classic were Lamb (10th, 17:52.8), Fannon (49th, 20:15.2), Bodach-Turner (52nd, 20:20.7), Carlson (69th, 20:55.7) and Greenberg (85th, 21:44.3).
Kurts won Saturday’s sprint race while showing off his combination of strength and speed. He finished in 3:07.94, while Casey placed fourth (3:09.86) and Krokenberger was sixth (3:12.99). Thompson (12th, 3:18.1), Clark (15th, 3:18.48) and Schwartz (17th, 3:18.93) also had strong races. Lamb (23rd, 3:47.47) and Fannon (27th, 3:49.28) cracked the top 30 for the girls sprint. Greenberg (41st, 3:57.34) and Carlson (61st, 4:08.43) also had quality showings.
Kurts and Casey were on the winning relay team with Liza Bell and Sage Freeman. Kurts trailed at the start of his leg before digging deep and sparking a come-from-behind victory with a time of 26:08.7, good enough to win by seven seconds. Clark was on the fifth-place relay team, while Lamb and Krokenberger raced for the sixth-place squad.
The results from the three individual races were combined to determine the overall champ. Kurts posted a winning score of 379 points to edge Minnesota skier Magnus O’Connor (377) and New Hampshire racer Mitchell Townsend (369). Krokenberger was fourth in the overall rankings, Casey was eighth, Clark was ninth and Schwartz wound up 12th. Lamb placed 15th in the girls standings.
Greyson Davis, Trevor Patterson, Jesse Colnes and Shams Ferver will join U-32’s under-16 crew this weekend in Fort Kent, Maine, for the Eastern High School Festival.
“This is New England’s for skiing, for the high-school age group,” U-32 coach Mark Chaplin said. “This is by far our largest group ever for this festival.”