After a disappointing Vermont State Division 2 meet where they failed to win the championship only for the second time in 12 years, Harwood girls’ XC pulled off a stunning victory at the Meet of Champions.
The top 15 teams based on total team times across Divisions 1, 2 and 3 were invited to run head-to-head on a flat windy course near at the Hard’Ack recreation trails in St. Albans, Vermont.
“Our girls were very disappointed with their performances at the state meet, so it was a great end to a crazy season. I usually have all of my runners at their peak for the state meet. That proved to be a difficult task this year. Our season start was delayed by three weeks (September 8) and our first meet did not take place until October. We were also limited to holding four practices only four days a week,” said coach John Kerrigan.
“Having one more meet against the best in Vermont got us all psyched up,” said Ava Thurston. The previously undefeated Thurston, lost to another previously undefeated Abby Broadley of Bellows Falls in a final sprint to the finish. “I surged past her with about 600 meters to go but could not shake her, said the Harwood cross-country co-captain. I saved it for one final dash to the finish. I reached down to go to that extra gear, and it just wasn’t there. She is the real deal; it will be fun to run against each other next year, said the 2019 Gatorade Runner of the Year. Thurston collapsed at the finish and had to be treated for dehydration by the BFA trainer. The temperatures at the state meet were in the high teens, it was in the mid-70s at the start of the race in St. Albans. Spectators were not allowed, but Ava’s dad Tom Thurston was able to watch the finish via Facetime from a cellphone of one of the Harwood girls that was a race alternate. “I have never seen her push that hard. This was a great experience for Ava,” said the older Thurston, an accomplished runner himself.
The rest of the Harwood girls backed up Thurston’s effort. Her younger sister Julia placed ninth, Charlie Flint (24th), McKenna Paxman (25th) and Britta Zetterstrom (28th). Their team score was low enough to defeat Division 1 champion CVU. CVU coach Scott Bliss, coach of the 2018 and 2019 New England champion CVU team, remarked that it has been six years since his team was last defeated by another Vermont team.
The future looks bright for the Harwood girls’ team, their coach said. All runners will return next year. The team had two freshmen, Julia and McKenna and one sophomore, Charlie in the top 25 in the entire state today. Kerrigan is already looking forward to challenging the best teams in New England next year. The New England Championship will be hosted by Vermont next year.
Harwood boys finished the season strong as well, placing 10th in the elite field. Harwood boys were led by Carlton Cummiskey (29th), Ebbe Lillis (48th), Luke Groom (52nd), Vinnie Spina (73rd), Tyler Silveria (77th), Rye MacCurtain (80th) and Ben Nardin (87th).
“It will be tough saying goodbye to our four seniors but we have a good nucleus of dedicated younger runners ready to step it up next year,” Kerrigan said.
All results can be seen on Athletic.net,