What’s the best thing about freshmen? Well, in this case, they have three more years of high school.
Often freshmen can have an impact on a good athletic team. In most sports, they may contribute, but you also have to live with their freshmen moments, which in most cases, translate as possible costly mistakes. This was not the case with a couple of freshmen on the Bellows Falls girls high school Vermont State Championship cross country team. The Terriers’ freshmen were a model of consistency and led them to a Division III State Title.
Abby Broadley and Stephanie Ager finished first and fourth in the state meet. The two first-year runners have graced the Green Mountain State stage with their running talents. Broadley was always in Coach Tim Eno’s sights as she was running a year ago at Bellows Falls Middle School. Ager was a kind of a surprise additional piece to the title puzzle. Last fall, she was running for Keene Middle School. She transferred, and the rest is history.
There were obviously other pieces to the Purple and White title jigsaw. Abby Dearborn was two seconds behind Ager, finishing fifth. And by the way, Dearborn is only a sophomore. Additionally, Dearborn was not a Terrier Harrier as a freshman. She was solely a field hockey player in the fall. Now, she plays both sports. Dearborn performed on the Bellows Falls track and field team in the spring, and Eno saw her potential. Her potential has turned into fall high-octane performance.
Senior Lia Clark was the next Terrier, placing eighth. The irony of all this is Clark has been the shining gem of this team for three years now and was among the top runners in the state in her division. Now, her senior year, strong runners joined her on the squad, allowing her to be a part of a very strong team – one good enough to erase a title drought of 32 years. Clark worked hard and waited four years to have a chance to compete on a top team in her team’s state competition. The 2018 team’s efforts should make it easy for her to realize a whole generation missed the opportunity to be a part of something like this.
The Terriers had last won a girls’ state cross country title in 1986 in Division II. Putting the numbers together, this year’s effort and times would have been good enough to do the same thing. In fact, the Terrier times were good enough last Saturday to have placed them fourth in the Division I meet. And remember, their top three runners haven’t even reached the point to have licenses to drive yet. The future could be even brighter.
Bellows Falls placed seven runners in the top 26 positions. Behind Clark were Molly Hodsden (21st), Jasmine Boucher (23rd), and Haley Covillion (26th). There was only 37 seconds separating those three.
Eno does figuring before, during (as much as he can), and after races and those numbers are what told him these Terriers ran well enough that they would have won the Division II competition if they had been in that race. In fact, the team ran so well with only the three Vermont Division I teams having a lower overall score that qualifies this year’s Terriers for the New England Meet at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H. Nov. 10 at 12:30 p.m.
A move by Eno may have played out and helped this team with their tremendous performance. The conditions Saturday were nothing to write home about, temperatures in the 30s, snow and rain at times, something Eno saw coming because of his endless preparation.
“I figured the weather was going to be like this so we ordered spikes for the race,” he told us. Some of the girls had never worn spikes ever before; and although many were breaking them in on race day, Eno didn’t worry. He said, “Even if they came up with a hot spot, they would just have to bear it and run through it. We wanted our best performance,” he reasoned.
The coach tells me he had known for about three weeks that a showing like this was possible. The Terriers had competed in the Woods Trail Run in early October at Thetford. The annual run brings together cross country teams throughout the east, and most of the Terriers competition was there. Eno studied the results upside down, and since the same trail is used annually for the Vermont State meet, he foresaw that he knew how his team would stack up.
“I figured we should win the Division III meet and had a good chance to score well enough to earn a place in the New Englands,” he offered. Obviously, all that was based on most of the athletes who took part in the Woods Run having the same kind of performance a few weeks later.
And that is exactly how it turned out. BF ran away with the Division III competition with 14 points. Rice was a distant second with 42. Northfield and Stowe both garnered 69 points followed by Thetford with 111, Peoples Academy 131, Lake Region 135, Sharon 141, Windsor 143, Otter Valley 170, Long Trail 177, and Oxbow 192.
The BF boys’ team also competed and finished fifth. Thetford captured the boys’ competition with 28 points with Stowe 43, Peoples Academy 52, Randolph 65, ahead of the Terriers who totaled 96 points.
Ian Wallace paced the Purple and White boys with a 10th place finish with Tim Salter-Roy 14th, Stone Bradbury 35th, Gabe Hakimoglu 37th, Issac Wilkinson 43rd, Collin Robertson 54th, and Jacob Howarth 73rd.
Bellows Falls holds the cards on all the area sports teams remaining in state competition this fall. Only three area teams are still standing. The Terrier field hockey team has advanced to the Division I State Title Game Saturday, Nov. 3 at the University of Vermont versus South Burlington at a time to be announced. The BF football team plays at Fair Haven Friday evening, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. in the state grid semi-finals.
Field hockey Coach Bethany Coursen said, “Fans from Division I teams have not given us credit and said we didn’t deserve the number one seed, but these girls have shown trust in their teammates and have played well to get to the final.” BF defeated Rice 3-2 in the semi-final at Middlebury Monday.
The Terrier football team had to come from behind at home in their opening play-off game, taking advantage of their opponents’ mistakes to turn back Union 32 20-18 in the game’s final minutes. Coach Bob Lockerby says, “We have to limit the time they have the ball to defeat Fair Haven. We were able to do that the first time we played them but fell just short.”