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Harwood girls' cross country team wins state title

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Jaime Thomas takes individual crown

The Highlander girls' cross country team successfully defended their title from 2009 at Thetford Hill State Park on October 30. The Harwood girls packed four girls in the top 10 and all seven in the top 19 for an overwhelming victory. "I knew coming into the race today our chances were good. I was a little surprised by our margin of victory," said a happy Highlander Coach John Kerrigan.

"The girls did better than I ever expected. Just shows you what good old hard work on the hills of South Duxbury can do!" said the longtime Harwood coach.

This was the fifth title for Harwood girls in cross country (they have been runners-up eight times). The boys have won nine titles and have been runners-up five times. "The girls are catching up with the boys," said Kerrigan. This was Kerrigan's 27th state title as a Highlander coach.

"They get better all the time. I have been teaching and coaching for 37 years. I never know if each championship will be my last. This group of kids has bonded well both on the trails and off. A lot of that can be contributed to team captain Laurel Whitney. Laurel got all the girls together every other week for social activities. They had fun together. I heard one of the girls remark that it is great to be on a team where everyone acts so nicely to each other. Laurel has been our number-one runner in most of our races this year. I know she had to be a little disappointed not to win today, but she did not show it. Jaime was on fire today. Laurel was happy for Jaime and most of all the team victory," said Kerrigan.

Jaime (1) and Laurel (3) qualified individually for the New England Championships on November 13. The Harwood girls' team also qualified in the team category for a run at the New Englands. In addition to Thomas (1st), Whitney (3rd), the Highlanders placed Kate Stevens (7th), Hannah Woodruff (10th), Olivia Nishi (12th), Yana Lotspeich (13) and Haley Robinson (19) in the 150-runner field. Having first and third in the race was awesome, but it was the pack that solidified the victory, said Kerrigan. 

Highlander boys were less successful in their quest for a fourth straight title. Harwood boys finished fifth in a tight field. Middlebury boys won and in doing so captured their first ever cross country championship for their school.

"We knew for us to win, that all the boys would have to be dead on and Middlebury had to be a little off. We were a little off and Middlebury boys were outstanding. Our boys had a great season. It will be hard to say goodbye to our seniors; Nathan Cutler, Dylan Thompson, Patrick Meany and Zak Munro. These boys have been part of five state championship teams, three in cross country and two in track. Number one Geordy Aitken (junior), our number four Goeffrey Kazlow (freshman) and our number six, Cameron Hancock (junior), are returning. We also have a good stable of middle school boys ready to gain their ranks in "the Army," said Kerrigan.

Harwood girls will contend for the New England cross country title along with the five other best teams from Vermont and the six best from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut on November 13 at 11 a.m. at Thetford Hill State Park.

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