Harwood Union High School Nordic skiers were back in Chittenden County this week at a 5K classic race at the Sleepy Hollow Inn Ski and Bike Center in Huntington. There have been a lot of icy races this year so Sleepy Hollow’s impressive snowmaking and grooming, aided by some new natural snow, was much appreciated. Coach Tom Strasser managed to register the team for this race as a last-minute replacement for a race that was canceled the day before. Unfortunately, several skiers could not be there, which was reflected in poor team results, but for the Harwood skiers who were able to make it, the race was a great opportunity to continue preparing for states.
The morning of racing started with the JV girls when the temperature was still in the single digits. The skiers were not deterred and skied the two-lap race well. Taite Plagge, a sophomore, came in fourth (11:01). Plagge had been a recreational Nordic skier when she entered the Harwood Union Middle School Nordic program under coach Andrew McCullough. He is now the assistant high school coach which has created great coaching consistency for many of the team’s younger skiers. Julianne Young is new to skiing, but she is making a successful transfer of her tremendous drive and race-level fitness from cross-country to Nordic. She finished fifth (11:08). Freshman Hadley Kielich was 21st (12:40) and Ayla Oshkello, in her first race after an equestrian injury, had a solid finish at 25th (13:04).
The varsity girls were up next for four laps of the course. Kyle Marie Hekeler had an excellent race with a fifth-place finish (17:36). Hekeler, a powerful, graceful skier, who trains year-round, is exciting to watch. Hekeler was followed by freshman Mackenzie Greenberg in 37th (20:47) and sophomores Anna Jamieson in 42nd (21:01) and Maggie Alberghini in 57th (23:01).
Harwood’s top two varsity boys and co-captains, Tyler Skroski and Walker Caffry Randall, have been going back and forth all season as to who is in the team’s lead spot. At Sleepy Hollow, it was Caffry Randall who finished seventh (15:07) overall, followed by Skroski in 21st (16:34). Acme Wasi and Vincent Spina do not typically ski varsity, but they stepped up to the challenge of skiing the longer race to fill out the varsity team and finished in 67th (22:20) and 68th (23:27). Caffry Randall said, “It was a really great race because our coaches nailed the wax. We had great kick. It is a lot of fun to ski when the kick wax is perfect.”