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Harwood cross-country sweeps state titles

Harwood boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams successfully defended their state titles from 2011 at the state championships on October 27 at Thetford Hill State Park. It was the fourth straight state title for the girls and the second straight for the boys. The Harwood boys have been state champions four of the last five years.

The Harwood cross-country team delivered a great 60th birthday present to coach John Kerrigan. Kerrigan has now coached Harwood to 18 state cross-country titles and 35 state titles when track and Nordic championships are tallied. The back-to-back victories have helped give Coach Kerrigan the distinction of becoming the most successful scholastic coach in Vermont.

“These championships were very special to me. They came during the week of my 60th birthday, from one of the finest group of young men and women that I have had the pleasure to coach,” Kerrigan said.

The two victories were very different. The girls squeaked out a two-point victory over a heavily favored Woodstock team.

“We talked about the uniqueness of the Thetford course. The course starts on a downgrade but includes a huge hill (Morty’s Monster) at mile 2 of the 5k course. Our girls ran as much with their heads as they did their hearts. They were very patient and did not follow the surging Woodstock girls in the first mile. We won the race in the last quarter mile,” Kerrigan said.

Harwood girls were led by Ellie Ramsey (3), Jaime Thomas (5), Alice Woodruff (11), India Harvey (13), Marla Davidson (14), Grace Butler (18) and freshman Charlotte Boyden (20).

“Woodstock’s first three runners had us beat. However, in cross-country it is the first five runners that score. The pack of Alice, Marla and India sealed it for us. Grace and Charlotte gave us some insurance by beating the sixth Woodstock runner.” In case of a tie it is the sixth runner’s finish from each team that determines the outcome. It was a great team effort,” he added.

The boys’ race lacked the drama of the girls’ race but was just as exciting for the Harwood fans. Geoffrey Kazlow, (2) Sam Nishi (3) and Nathanael Kuzio (4) made an impressive pack. Following them was Nathaniel Kazlow who engaged in an awesome sprint to the finish with state 800 meter champion Max Moulton of Middlebury. Caleb Kessler, dual sport athlete (soccer and cross-country), helped the Highlander effort with a 12th-place finish. Harwood’s sixth and seventh runners, Jacob Palmerio (24) and Jacob Pitman (26), were equally as impressive.

Both Harwood teams qualified for the New England Cross-Country Championships. The 2012 New Englands will be held on November 10 in Cumberland, Maine. Harwood boys and girls will only lose one senior on each of their winning teams. Look for them to be strong contenders in 2013.

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