MONTPELIER — The 2021 Nordic ski season enters its third week, state meets are one month away and U-32 is slowly starting to resemble its championship program from recent years.

It hasn’t been a typical title defense for the Raiders, who won Division II crowns in 2019 and 2020 for boys and girls. The first practice was pushed back nearly two months due to COVID, racers haven’t competed in a mass-start event and practices are split up between upperclassmen and underclassmen.

Coach Mark Chaplin knows it won’t be easy, but he’s still gunning for a three-peat.

U-32 veteran May Lamb won Saturday’s girls 5-kilometer classic race at the Montpelier Elks Club in 25 minutes, 46 seconds. Fellow Raider Carson Beard was the boys winner in 21:40.

“May Lamb had an excellent race for us,” Chaplin said. “Though the team time trial format didn’t allow her to compete against the top girls from the other schools, she had an epic battle over the entire course with our outstanding freshman boy, Ben Clark.”

Olivia Serrano (fifth 29:13), Shams Ferver (sixth, 29:41) and Avery Knauss (seventh, 29:55) helped U-32 solidify local bragging rights. Jacob Miller-Arsenault (second, 21:44), Oliver Hansen (fourth, 23:35) and Cameron Thompson (fifth, 24:10) cracked the top-5 for the Raiders’ high-powered boys squad.

Saturday’s dominant performance at the nearby venue was nostalgic for Chaplin while reinforcing the Raiders’ reputation as the team to beat in Central Vermont. Boasting most of the stars from the reigning state champion cross country running teams, U-32 easily held off Montpelier and Harwood despite missing a handful of standouts.

“While I’d never been to a Nordic race there, competing at the Elk’s Club brings back lots of memories,” Chaplin said. “Back in the 70’s and 80’s we competed in multiple state championship cross country running meets, and even a New England Championship meet. It’s such a beautiful location and the rolling terrain is perfect for skiing.”

Carson Beard prevailed for the second straight race, holding off Miller-Arsenault by four seconds. Carson’s twin brother Austin persevered through an equipment malfunction and cracked the top-10 in 26:33.

“Austin had a bit of tough luck,” Chaplin said. “He had borrowed a set of poles for the race, only to have one of the baskets fall off almost immediately. Then he lost almost five minutes going to his car to find a replacement.”

Montpelier freshman Sage Grossi (22:37) placed third in the boys race, while Solons classmate Estherline Carlson (28:50) tied for second in the girls event. Anja Rand (fourth, 28:57), Ruby Bryant (11th, 30:55) and Mary Margaret Page (14th, 32:37) gave the MHS girls solid depth. Benjamin Wetherell (sixth, 25:44), Ezra Merrill-Triplett (eighth, 26:10) and Steven Supan (13th, 28:56) supported Grossi on the boys’ side.

“It was a fantastic day on beautiful trails for our first classic technique race of the season,” Montpelier coach Brian Carlson said. “I was impressed with how focused the team was throughout the race. It can be hard to push yourself when there are no other teams around, but the kids seemed to really dig deep and work hard. (And) once again our ninth-grade skiers led our team.”

The fastest athletes for the Harwood girls were Maisie Franke (second, 28:50), Hazel Lillis (ninth, 30:15), Hadley Anderson (13th, 32:24) and Rowan Clough (19th, 35:05). Setting the pace for the Harwood boys were Ebbe Lillis (ninth, 26:16), Ben Larson (15th, 30:08), Gus Mosle (20th, 32:57) and Mason Berry (21st, 33:26).

The boys state championships will take place March 8, followed by the girls state meet March 10. In 2019 the U-32 girls finished with 72 points to easily defeat Middlebury (158), Burr & Burton (181) and Harwood (189). The U-32 boys recorded 67 points to narrowly edge Middlebury (78).

That year Samuel Clark (fourth) and Tzevi Schwartz (fifth) made their debut as freshman by cracking the top-5 at classic states and competing on the relay team. Thompson was 12th that winter at classic states as the Raiders attempted to neutralize the Middlebury trio of Elvis McIntosh, Jack Christner and Lucas Palcsik. Raiders senior Jed Kurts was a sophomore that winter when he won the individual freestyle title. Clark (eighth) and Schwartz (ninth) were also in the Top-10.

Kurts repeated his freestyle magic at 2020 states, placing first in front of Schwartz (fifth) and Clark (seventh). Kurts (second), Clark (third), Hansen (ninth) and Miller-Arsenault (11th) were among U-32’s standouts at classic states. The Raiders finished with 72 points to hold off Middlebury (79).

The returning U-32 heavy-hitters from 2019 girls classic states include Lamb (second), Ferver (12th), Ayla Bodach Turner (12th) and Anna Knauss (14th). Lamb (third), Ferver (seventh) and Bodach-Turner (11th) excelled at freestyle states before competing on the relay team.

Chaplin’s girls team was penalized 70 points last winter during the relay at classic states when a Raider accidentally made wrong turn. The Raiders bounced back at freestyle states, finishing with an overall score of 132 to rally past Middlebury (153), Lamoille (194), Harwood (203) and Burr & Burton (214).

Lamb (second), Serrano (fourth), Bodach-Turner (seventh) and Ferver (eighth) were classic standouts. Lamb (fourth), Serrano (fifth), Ferver (seventh) and Bodach-Turner (10th) set the tone in the skate race and all four were relay competitors in both disciplines.

MONTPELIER ELKS CLUB

NORDIC SKI RESULTS

FEB. 6, 2021

GIRLS 5K CLASSIC

1. May Lamb, U-32, 25:46 2. Maisie Franke, HU, 28:50 3. Estherline Carlson, MHS, 28:50 4. Anja Rand, MHS, 28:57 5. Olivia Serrano, U-32, 29:13 6. Shams Ferver, U-32, 29:41 7. Avery Knauss, U-32, 29:55 8. Amy Felice, U-32, 30:11 9. Hazel Lillis, HU, 30:15 10. Anna Knauss, U-32, 30:54 11. Ruby Bryant, MHS, 30:55 12. Norah Wilcox, U-32, 30:56 13. Hadley Anderson, HU, 32:24 14. Mary Margaret Page, MHS, 32:37 15. Lucia McCallum, MHS, 33:02 16. Addy Budliger, U-32, 33:24 17. Eliana Moorhead, MHS, 34:17 18. Nina Young, U-32, 34:33 19. Rowan Clough, HU, 35:05 20 Alice Lindsey, HU, 38:47

BOYS 5K CLASSIC

1. Carson Beard, U-32, 21:40 2. Jacob Miller-Arsenault, U-32, 21:44 3. Sage Grossi, MHS, 22:37 4. Oliver Hansen, U-32, 23:35 5. Cameron Thompson, U-32, 24:10 6. Benjamin Wetherell, MHS, 25:44 7. Clark Bennett, U-32, 25:48 8. Ezra Merrill-Triplett, MHS, 26:10 9. Ebbe Lillis, HU, 26:16 10. Austin Beard, U-32, 26:33 11. Cyrus Hansen, U-32, 27:17 12. Wilder Brown, U-32, 27:46 13. Steven Supan, MHS, 28:56 14. Chase Ehrlich, MHS, 29:30 15. Ben Larson, HU, 30:08 16. Avery Smart, MHS, 30:30 17. Ethan Borland, MHS, 30:53 18. Quinn Olney, U-32, 31:54 19. Jasper Turner, MHS, 32:40 20. Gus Mosle, HU, 32:57 21. Mason Berry, HU, 33:26 22. Taggert Schrader, U-32, 33:48 23. Fletcher Turner, MHS, 37:44 24. Jonah Busker, HU, 40:56

JV GRILS

1. Esther Macke, U-32, 15:40 2. Althea Torrens-Martin, MHS, 16:42 3. Elaquin Johnson, U-32, 17:17 4. Eva Goodwin, U-32, 17:46 5. Zoe Ayers, MHS, 18:46 6. Mia Mosle, HU, 19:17 7. Ambiana Glavin, U-32, 20:16 8. Piper Floyd, HU, 20:52 9. Mira Pompei, MHS, 20:55

JV BOYS

1. Sam Watson, Montpelier, 18:57 2. Bo Ferver, U-32, 20:25 3. Otis Loga, U-32, 21:27 4. Aaron Lavigne, U-32, 22:09

MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS

1. Anya Carlson, Main St., 13:41 2. Marie Voisin, Main St., 13:55 3. Sara McGill Saligman, Main St., 14:32 4. Clare Pritchard, Main St., 14:53 5. Adele Pritchard, Main St., 15:19 6. Miriam Serota-Winston, Main St., 16:24 7. Anna Wetherell, Main St., 16:31 8. Adleigh Franke, HU, 16:32 9. Amani Suter, Main St., 16:55 10. Camille Marineau, Main St., 17:01 11. Anna Newara, Main St., 18:14 12. Livi Ambler, HU, 18:26 13. Maude Walker, Main St., 18:43 14. Grace Hall, Main St., 18:44 15. Molly McGibney, Main St., 19:29 16. Sonya Mancauskas, Main St., 20:17 17. Phoebe Bakeman, Main St., 20:35 18. Thea Andersen, HU, 22:36 19. Solenne Marineau, Main St., 22:44 20. Lucy Copans, Main St., 25:22

MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS

Jay Borland, Main St., 14:12 Asa Lloyd, Main St., 14:13 Indy Metcalf, HU, 14:26 Sam Brondyke, Main St., 14:35 Caedin Bodach-Turner, U-32, 14:58 Owen Mongeon, Main St., 15:30 Asa Rosenberg, Main St., 15:44 Dax Desharnais, Main St., 15:49 Luke Murphy, Main St., 16:24 Chapin Rivers, HU, 16:40 Christopher Cummiskey, HU, 16:48 Caleb Rockcastle, Main St., 17:14 Quin Pomerantz, HU, 17:37 Graham Turner, Main St., 17:40 Russell Clar, Main St., 18:14 Roan Sirvent, Main St., 20:24

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