Week 5 Rankings - Week of 10/9/23

VTHSXC.COM Vermont HS Boys Cross Country Rankings - Oct. 9, 2023

Boys Overall Top 10


2. U32



5.BFA St Albans


7.South Burlington


9.Thetford Academy\


St, Johnsbury cemented the #1 ranking with a dominant win at the Woods Trail Invite last Saturday. With three runners finishing in the top five the Hilltoppers put 70 points between themselves and #2 U32. While St. Jay is the clear top dog the rest of the top teams are very closely bunched with the Raiders edging #3CVU by a scant four points. #4MHS followed just behind the Redhawks. 

Woods Trail gives a preview of who might come out on top when these teams battle again over the same course on Oct 28. The difference is that in a couple weeks State Titles will be one the line. Cross Country is unique in many ways, among these quirks is the “winner take all” of the big races. States is a single race affair, a team can be undefeated for months but in many ways the whole season comes down to one or two races. A mistimed illness, injury or lost shoe in the mud can undo thousands of training miles over months and even years of preparation. 

As of now the marquee race at States will be the Boys D2 matchup between cross town rivals MHS and U32. If U32 has history, seven straight titles, then MHS has revenge, last year’s epic 2 point race, on their side. These teams know each other well, sharing a zip code, training on the same roads and even running Indoor Track together in a combined program. However it sugars out this year look for this to be a true fall classic and for both teams to qualify for the New England Championship in Belfast, ME.

Woods Trail also demonstrated that if St. Jay has an off day at States #3 CVU could pull the upset and that #5 BFA is just one runner away from competing for their first Cross title. Hockeytown VT came an agonizing single point from winning in 2021. That year the Hilltoppers pulled a slight upset to claim their first boys win in 35 years. If the Bobwhites could repay the favor in 2023 it would be a huge surprise but not outside the realm of possibility. Of course #6 Essex cannot be discounted having beaten everyone in the top 10, save St.Jay, at their home meet to open the season. The Hornets have not sustained that level since with injuries likely to blame but if fully healthy the boys in blue and maize could be in the hunt in two weeks. #7 SB has been steadily closing the gap  and #8 BHS has been inconsistent but shown glimpses of being dangerous. 

The big mover in the rankings this week was #9 Thetford Academy who ran very well on their home course and now look to be the favorites for the D3 Title. A rule change will see D3 scoring five runners deep, instead of four, for the first time. While this rule change is controversial, with many coaches feeling it is bad for the sport as it disqualifies smaller schools/teams from the chance to win a title, it is for the moment the law of the land. Five or four deep, Thetford Academy looks like the team to beat among the small schools.

The name Thornton-Sherman is a legendary one in state running circles. Third in line brother Andrew won at Woods Trail and showed that his national caliber 800m speed comes with enough strength to shred the longer hillier races as well. Porter Hurteau, Dan Knight, Carson Eames, Emmett Johnson and Taggart Schrader were next to finish, all broke the rare 17:00 min barrier on the painfully hard and slow Thetford course.  Look for all of these names, plus Cyrus Hansen, to feature in the biggest races at season’s end.

VTHSXC.COM Vermont HS Girls Cross Country Rankings - Oct. 9, 2023 

Girls Overall Top 10

CVU maintains its stranglehold on the #1 spot again this week. A dominating performance at the Thetford Invitational defeating the #5 team from CT New Milford 26-57 and the closest VT team by 107 points. CVU placed their scoring five in the top 11 of the meet and CVU’s fifth runner beat every other VT teams #2 runner. They were lead by Estella Laird in 1st 19:47, Alice Kredell 3rd 20:13, Lydia Donahue 4th 20:19, Audrey Neilson 7th 20:35 and Charlotte Crum 11th 21:12. The Redhawks venture to the Big Apple this weekend and will be racing in the Eastern States race at the Manhattan Invitational. This will allow them to compete against some of the different top teams in the Northeast but the field is a bit weaker than it has been in past years.

U-32 stays at #2 which may confuse some people after their 13th place finish at Woods Trail. They were actually running without 3 of their top runners and Ginger Long, their normal #1 runner, would have most likely decreased their score by over 100 points on her finish alone. If at full strength U-32 looks like the 2nd best team in the state but over the next few weeks we will see if they are at full strength or not. If they aren’t that could move Essex or South Burlington up to the 2nd spot.

Essex and South Burlington have been battling with each other for the entire season. This weekend the amazing pack of Essex, a 27 second spread from 1-5, came out on top. That is a good sign for Essex going forward because that pack happened on the actual state meet course. It will be hard for South Burlington to match if they can stay that close. South Burlington has the edge at the #1 spot with Paige Poirier who finished 13th 21:20 but Essex had them covered at every other spot this weekend. This still looks like one of the best battles to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

St Johnsbury finished 7th at Woods Trail and ran a nice 1-5 spread of 1:16 but they were just off of the packs of Essex and South Burlington. This was an encouraging race for them after Mount Mansfield had beaten them on their home course. Stowe was a surprise coming in 8th at Woods Trail and they were propelled by 9th grader Leila Griffith in 14th place 21:20 and Lydia Matson in 37th 22:18. Their issue with running with the top teams is the drop off after their #3 runner. If that gap can come down then they may be able to contend with some of the other top 5 teams.

Burlington and Mount Mansfield were only separated by 3 points at Woods Trail so this obviously is another close one to watch. With Burlington having a couple of multiple sport athletes they can be top 5 level at one race and maybe only top 10 level at another meet if they are racing without those athletes. If Mt Mansfield can move their #4 and 5 runners forward to close the gap from their #3 runner they could move up in the standings.

Burr and Burton and Thetford Academy were separated by 11 points and finished in 14th and 15th place out of the 36 team field. Burr and Burton was led by Madelyn Harris in 28th place 22:06 and Thetford Academy was led by Ava Hayden in 12th place 21:14.

With just over 2 weeks to go until the state meet there will most likely not be much changing until the big day. Most of the courses teams will be racing going forward are no resemblance to the terrain at Thetford so those results won’t help much in determining who will run well over the hilly Thetford course. For most teams it is now sharpening for the state meet and trying to staying healthy!