Harwood boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams will travel to Thetford this coming Saturday (Halloween) and race on the trails designed by Olympian and master trail builder John Morton.
The wooded Thetford trail has a series of tough climbs, ending with Morty’s Monster. “If a hill has a name it has to be a tough hill. The course suits us well. We run hills every day,” said veteran coach John Kerrigan.
Kerrigan can support this statement with an impressive statistic. His teams have won 26 Vermont state titles while racing on the Thetford course. The boys and girls are even with 13 state titles each. Harwood boys last won the state title in 2014. Harwood girls are the returning state champions and have won states nine of the last 10 years.
“The boys are hoping for a second-place finish. U-32 boys are a strong favorite to repeat. Our boys have been running strong and I know they will be peaking next Saturday. We have played nip and tuck with the number two-rated team in the state –Spaulding. We beat them on a sixth-place finish tie breaker on our course and also escaped with a slim 1one-point victory on their home course. Spaulding has always been an ice hockey powerhouse. It is nice to see the boys from Barre stepping it up in XC,” said Kerrigan.
Carlton Cummiskey finished eighth at the D2 state meet in 2019 and hopes to improve that finish in 2020. He will be backed up by a group of other seniors that have been running strong -- Vinny Spina, Luke Groom, Tyler Silveria and Mason Berry, plus junior Ebbe Lillis and sophomore Rye MacCurtain.
“Our girls will be in a tough fight with the U-32 girls. U-32 is rated the No. 1 team in the Vermont Division 2 by Athletic.net. In the only meeting of the two teams this year, the Sea Hornet Invitational on October 3, Harwood girls had a one-point victory. The difference was Julia Thurston (freshman) Harwood’s number two runner outkicking the No. 1 runner from U-32 at the finish. The U-32 girls have been runners-up to us the last two years and will be loaded for bear,” Kerrigan noted.
“I am confident that our underclassmen can match up with their senior-laden team. Ava Thurston, Gatorade All-American, returns to defend her state title. She will be supported by her sister Julia, Britta Zetterstrom (sixth - 2019) Charlie Flint (10th – 2019) and Caelyn McDonough (12th - 2019), Anlu Thamm (20th - 2019). The Harwood girls lost their captain and team leader Julianne Young (11th - 2019) to graduation. However, freshman McKenna Paxman has been improving dramatically and could fill the gap left by Young,” he added.
“McKenna really killed it today,” teammate Masie Frank’s said after the Rice race.
“Despite all of the interruptions in our schedule -- late start, cancellations due to weather and restrictions brought on by trying to train during a worldwide pandemic, our runners are ready to do their best at Thetford,” Kerrigan added.