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Harwood cross-country continued its stellar season by winning both boys' and girls' divisions at the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Championships held on October 19 at U-32 High School.
The NVACs bring together all of the northeastern Vermont schools to compete for the conference championship. Harwood boys were the defending champions and had no problem retaining their title. Once again Sam Nishi led the Highlanders. Nishi won the battle of the Sams. Sam Merriman, U-32, Sam Brunette, North Country, and Harwood's Sam Nishi all jockeyed for position midway through the 5k course. In the end, Nishi out kicked hometown favorite Merriman in front of a huge, disappointed U-32 crowd. The Sams were closely followed by the Harwood Ks; Nathanael Kuzio, 4th, Geoffrey Kazlow, 5th, and Nathaniel Kazlow, 6th. All that was needed was Jacob Palmerio's outstanding 16th-place finish to sew up a dominating victory for the Highlanders.
"We were without one of our other Ks (Caleb Kessler – who is nursing an old soccer injury) today so the boys knew that we needed some reinforcements. Cross-country is a lot like poker; you need five cards (runners). Jacob had one of his best races of the year to help us win the race. Our sixth and seventh men, Noah Evans (23) and Eli Winters (27), also contributed to the dominating Highlander victory," said coach John Kerrigan.
Harwood girls also won in dominating fashion. The Harwood girls finished second in 2012 and were poised for winning the 2013 championship. Grace Butler placed second to North Country's Avery Ellis on the fairly level 5k U-32 course. "Grace is a hill runner so this course did not give her a chance to display her strength. I am really looking forward to see what she does next Saturday on the hilly course at Thetford." Butler was closely followed by Alice Woodruff (4), Charlotte Boyden (6), Ellie Ramsey (7), Marla Davidson (8) and India Harvey (10).
"Alice had the best day ever. She continues to amaze me. Charlotte is also coming on strong. It looks good going into the state meet next Saturday," said Kerrigan.
Harwood boys' and girls' cross-country teams are hoping to bring home dual titles this Saturday, October 26, when they compete at the hilly state championship course at Thetford Hill State Park.
The boys are the two-time defending champions. The girls are four-time defending champs! Both teams are also hoping to qualify for the New England Championships on November 9 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Harwood boys' and girls' cross-country have combined for 18 state titles since their first one in 1989. They will be seeking their 19th and 20th state titles this Saturday.
The girls will be tested in their quest for their fifth straight state title by a strong Woodstock team. The boys are hoping to beat a very strong Division 1 South Burlington team to be the best in Vermont.
The boys' race starts at 10:30 a.m. The girls' race is at noon. "The Thetford course is very spectator friendly. Fans can see the runners several times as they wind through the course in Thetford Hill State Park," said coach John Kerrigan.
"So come on out to Thetford this Saturday. Make a day of it. Take a walk on the wooded trails before or after the race and watch the Harwood cross-country team at their finest. Our kids usually don't have a lot of spectators so I know that they will appreciate it!" said Kerrigan.