On Saturday, September 4, the members of Harwood Union cross-country team traveled to Essex for the Essex Invitational XC Meet. This meet was canceled in 2020 because of the epidemic.
The HU runners in Coach John Kerrigan’s Army were happy to have a meet and coaches could sense the anticipation. The Essex meet attracts the best runners from the Division 1 schools in Chittenden County and beyond. “Over 50% of our team is composed of freshman or runners that are new to cross country. It was a little intimidating for them. They must have thought I was throwing them to the wolves! The competition is among the toughest we will see all year,” Kerrigan said.
The boys’ varsity team is composed of two freshman and two sophomores.
Despite the circumstances, they held their own. Senior co-captain Ebbe Lillis who placed 24th led the varsity boys. Lillis was followed by sophomore Noah Rivera (48), Junior Rye MacCurtain (67) and then a pair of freshmen running in their first-ever varsity XC race. Indy Metcalf was 77th and Chris Cummisky placed 80th in the 130-runner field. “It was baptism by fire for Indy and Chris,” said Kerrigan. The boys’ team placed 12th out of 19 teams. Not bad considering that most of the teams participating had much larger school populations.
The Harwood girls took up where they left off in 2020. Harwood girls are the defending Vermont champions. They defeated Division 1 and undefeated Champlain Valley at the 2020 Meet of Champions.
A powerhouse Burlington team narrowly defeated the Harwood girls. The BHS team has been picked as the team to watch for 2021 by many coaches.
Vermont Division 2 two-time cross-country state champion, Ava Thurston, led Harwood girls. She was first in the 2020 race. She was defeated by soccer crossover and track sensation Logan Hughes of BFA. It was only the second time in two years that Thurston was defeated by another Vermont girl.
Ava Thurston was followed by Britta Zetterstrom (11), Charlie Flint (12) Julia Thurston (15) and Elisa Clerici (24). It was a very close race.
“We were virtually tied after four runners. Burlington’s fifth beat our fifth and that was the difference. Britta and Elisa had great efforts. Britta is usually running as our fourth girl in practice and came through as our second girl today. Elisa, an exchange student from Lake Como, Italy, shook off some nervousness and did well in her first race on American soil. Bravo Elisa,” Kerrigan said.
Harwood JV girls were led by Maisie Frank (8th). Coach Kerrigan said he was very pleased with the performance of his top three freshmen – Celia Wing (14), Heidi Haroldsen (22) and Susannah Smith (31)
Harwood JV boys were led by freshman Lincoln Gage (26) and Atticus Ellis (54) who were impressive in their first high school races.
The Harwood team travels to the campus of VTC in Randolph next Saturday for the Randolph Invitational.