Nordic Boys Are State Champs For Third Time
By David Miles, Sports Correspondent
It was a tremendous two days for both Woodstock Nordic teams in the State Championships on Friday and Tuesday. Not only did the boys win the Division-II title for the third year in a row, their results actually topped that of all twelve Division-I schools as well. Likewise the girls’ results were very impressive third in the state in Division-II (and only one spot higher in the classic relay would have placed the team in second.) After Friday’s freestyle events at Jericho, the boys had already built an impressive lead in D-II and overall. Jeff Tucker was the D-II state champion in the freestyle portion, with teammates Jordan Fields second and Josh Bassette third. Overall these results put the trio in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th statewide. Harry Linowski rounded out the team scoring with an 8th place D-II finish (18th overall).
Woodstock’s other skiers on this day were Zane Fields (12th in D-11, 23rd overall), Campbell Boswell (26th D-II and 58th overall), Graham Melville (28th and 66th) and Griffin Boswell (31st and 71st). There were 161 boys competing, meaning that all 8 Woodstock skiers placed in the top half of the field.
The morning’s individual race was followed by the afternoon team relay. Woodstock won that event too, both in its Division and in the state overall.
Coach Nick Mahood said that Linowski was “the unknown quantity going into that race, but he did just fantastic” and allowed Woodstock to triumph. Bassette led off and gave the Wasps a 10-second lead. Linowski skied second and held his own for much of his leg, finally giving the lead back to Mt. Mansfield, but staying within five seconds of the top spot. Tucker got the lead back quickly and both he and Fields stretched it out through the second half of the race and Woodstock won by a comfortable margin.
The boys ended the first day with 24 points and a sizable lead over second place U-32 (57 points), with BFA-Fairfax in third at 95.The girls, meanwhile, finished the first day in second place overall. Mahood said, “This was, by far, the best they raced all season. And to have individual Woodstock girls place the top ten has not happened before, in any year.”
Anna Ramsey led the girls in 6th place among the D-II racers (16th overall), followed by Christy Harris in 10th and 24th. Also earning team points for Woodstock were Finn McFarland (12th and 38th) and Elizabeth Bassette (17th and 45th).
Woodstock’s other skiers (and this was the first time that Mahood has taken the full complement of 8 skiers to the competition) were Katherine Tucker (20th and 52nd), Kathryn Bassette (21st and 53rd), Alyssa Rivera (25th and 61st) and Alex Beda (43rd and 105th). These were solid placings for all these student-athletes.
The girls’ relay team (Elizabeth Bassette, McFarland, Harris and Ramsey) claimed second place in the freestyle team competition (and 6th overall in the state), putting the Wasps with 54 points, trailing Middlebury’s 29 and ahead of BFA-Fairfax’s 84 after the first day of competition.
Going into Tuesday’s Classic races at Grafton, Mahood knew the boys were on strong footing, but that the girls would have a tougher go of it.
Because of the lack of snow this season, the girls have primarily practiced their freestyle technique and the coach knew the classic racing would prove more challenging simply because of the lack of experience.
The boys were so strong in the Classic discipline that they swept the first three places in the state overall. Jordan Fields was the race winner with Bassette second and Tucker third. Linowski once again completed the team scoring with a solid 15th place finish (34th overall) for the junior.
Mahood was equally pleased with the results of his three freshmen too.
Zane Fields took 20th in D-II and 44th overall, Campbell Boswell 35th and 83rd, senior Griffin Boswell 37th and 86th and Melville 40th and 96th.
The classic relay was important for the boys as they had finished second in it the two previous years. But this year they led from start to finish and, as Mahood put it, “nobody else was even close.” Bassette led off and gave the Wasps a strong 30-second lead. Linowski maintained that advantage and both Tucker and Fields and kept increasing the margin until Woodstock won by well over a minute.
That made the final Division-II scoring a runaway. Woodsock finished in first place with 74 points, followed by U-32 with 184 and BFA-Fairfax at 245. And if the scoring with the D-I schools was combined, Woodstock’s margin would have been narrower, but they still would have been the best in the state. That’s quite an accomplishment for a smaller school!
And, despite their lack of experience, the girls still had six skiers among the top 25 in the Division-II ranks. Elizabeth Bassette was the top in 11th, followed by McFarland in 16th, Ramsey in 20th, Stephanie Ambrose in 22nd, Tucker with 23rd, and Harris snagging 25th. The final two racers were freshmen who finished neck-and-neck with each other, Kathryn Bassette in 36th and Lindsey Stuntz in 37th.
The relay team came home 4th in the classic team event leaving Woodstock 3rd overall in the team scoring. Middlebury easily claimed the state title with 51 points, while BFA-Fairfax’s 142 nosed out Woodstock with 149. U-32 was next in line with 191.
In four years the girls have gone from having one skier compete in the State Championships to 7th to 5th to 3rd. Mahood says this “obviously is a huge improvement, but things also look very promising for us to continue to make strides next year. Stephanie Ambrose is the only senior whose points were part of the team total. Everybody else is back.”
And, for the boys, the stellar seniors “went out with a bang,” according to the proud coach. And they will leave a “big hole to fill” next year. But with Linowski back and a talented corps of young skiers, the cupboard is not bare. Mahood expects to contend in Divison-II next year, although dominating the upper division schools might be too tall a task for 2013.
Nonetheless the legacy that Fields, Tucker and Bassette leave behind is not only three consecutive state championships, but a solid foundation for Nordic Skiing at Woodstock Union high School. Congratulations to all the skiers, to Coach Nick Mahood and especially to the seniors on both the boys and girls teams for yet another successful season!