From poorhouse to powerhouse: The Stowe High cross-country program is establishing a tradition as one of the best in Vermont.
The Stowe High boys easily won their third straight Division 3 championship Saturday in Thetford, and the Stowe girls finished third.
Credit Coach Becky McGovern, who sparked the rebirth of Stowe High cross-country after the team’s funding was cut entirely from the school budget. She organized firewood-stacking and bake sales to raise money to cover the team’s expenses, and made cross-country a go-to sport for the school’s athletes.
And what a payoff.
The Stowe High boys’ team cruised to a 15-point victory over second-place Rice, and the girls finished third behind BFA-Fairfax and Oxbow.
Leading the way for Stowe was the coach’s son, William McGovern, who finished seven seconds out of first place and qualified for the New England Championships Nov. 8 in Manchester, Conn.
Depth was the key for both Stowe teams.
For the boys, JJ Clark finished fourth, Keegan Loughran sixth, Aidan Bernheisal 14th, Zach Masi 15th, Ben Wasser 18th and Nathaniel Wells 31st among 87 runners.
For the Stowe girls, Heidi Brynn was the top runner, in 10th place; Amelia Nuzzo was 13th, Rosalie Wasser 25th and Fiona Reed 26th, among 78 competitors.
“The season was great!” said boys co-captain Zach Masi, a senior. “We had a very strong varsity team, and a great JV and girls team. If it wasn’t for the cheering support and the pressure from the team during the race, we really couldn’t have done it. It was a full team effort, just like last year.”
Coach McGovern noted her boys’ team finished seventh overall, including the larger Division I and Division II schools. The top six teams move on to the New England Open Championship, and Stowe missed by a whisker. Now she has a new goal for next near.
“Yes, New Englands will certainly be a goal of mine for next year,” she said, and that 2015 meet will be held in Thetford.
While the Stowe boys’ team narrowly missed a trip to Connecticut’s Wickham Park on Nov. 8 for this year’s New Englands, it will be represented by co-captain William McGovern, who earned a trip as an individual runner. The top 25 runners in the state move on to the New England meet, and McGovern is ranked ninth.
For McGovern, a junior, this will be his second run at the New Englands.
“I am really excited, he said. “It is really fun to run against the fastest high school runners in New England. It is a really fast, competitive race.”
As for next season, McGovern shares his coach/mother’s lofty goals.
“I am looking forward to our team next year,” he said. “We are returning most of our varsity and hopefully some younger runners will step up to fill our graduating seniors’ places.
“I definitely think we will have a good chance of winning our fourth championship next year. We were so close to qualifying for New Englands this year that I think qualifying next season would be a great goal. A lot can happen in a year, though, so it is hard to make predictions.”
The boys’ race
“We’re always pretty competitive with Rice,” Coach McGovern said. “We watch them, keep an eye on them.”
And on Saturday, “each of our runners was ahead of each of theirs.”
Conditions were ideal, she said: “It was a beautiful fall day. The temperatures were great.” The trail was well-drained; some state meets have been run in slushy or snowy conditions.
On boys’ winner Chris Gish of Sharon, the Stowe coach said, “Chris and William have been going back and forth since eighth grade. I think if there’d been another mile, William could’ve gotten him.” William McGovern had been running third all race until he caught his Rice rival, Will Lacroix, on the final hill, beating him by seven seconds, the same gap between McGovern and Gish.
The Stowe boys’ team will graduate three seniors, JJ Clark, Zach Masi and Mike Dougherty. Coach McGovern said this year’s juniors and freshmen were the strongest runners, so things look good for next year.
Still, she thinks she’s going to need to do some recruiting to replenish the freshmen ranks.
The girls’ race
“Heidi (Brynn) had a spectacular race,” finishing 10th in Division 3, Coach McGovern said, and the team’s performance was bolstered because “the freshmen girls had a nice progression this season.”
As for the team’s third place finish: “I think they were pleasantly surprised.”
The girls’ team had a lot of new faces this season; even the juniors on the team were new to cross-country. And the team isn’t losing anyone between now and next season, so McGovern has high hopes for next fall.
Division 3, Vermont State Cross-Country Championships
Oct. 25, 5,000 meters, Thetford
1 Chris Gish, Sharon 17:20.9
2 William McGovern, Stowe 17:27.9
3 Will Lacroix, Rice Memorial 17:35.0
4 JJ Clark, Stowe 18:23.7
5 Ian Mundy, Thetford 18:24.7
6 Liam Fleming, Rivendell 18:28.1
6 Keegan Loughran, Stowe 18:41.2
8 Sam Dickin, Rice Memorial 18:43.2
9 Michael Groening, BFA-Fairfax 18:43.4
10 Willie Moore, Bellows Falls 18:44.5
11 G. Cunningham, Rice Memorial 18:45.4
12 Christian Parent, Rivendell 18:52.6
13 Nick Jickling, Randolph 18:54.9
14 Aidan Bernheisal, Stowe 19:04.3
15 Zach Masi, Stowe 19:19.6
16 Cody Tallent, Bellows Falls 19:25.8
17 Clifford Ransom, Thetford 19:29.6
18 Ben Wasser, Stowe 19:36.4
19 Jake Hakey, BFA-Fairfax 19:39.4
20 R McClintock, Rice Memorial 19:46.4
31 Nathaniel Wells, Stowe 20:41.4
Team results, boys’ Division 2
1. 23 points, Stowe
2. 38 Rice Memorial
3. 73 Thetford
4. 89 Bellows
5. 97 BFA-Fairfax
6. 106 Randolph
7. 108 Rivendell
8. 121 Northfield
9. 150 Oxbow
10. 174 Richford
11. 230 South Royalton
1 Isabella Giesing, Oxbow 21:27.6
2 Katie Brown, BFA-Fairfax 21:44.7
3 Stephanie Griffin, Richford
4 Scout Donahue, BFA-Fairfax 23:13.6
5 Celynn Siemons, BFA-Fairfax 23:18.4
6 Hannah Giesing, Oxbow 23:19.7
7 Elisha Mattoon, Chelsea 23:31.8
8 Shelby Rosten, Oxbow 23:35.3
8 Rachael Townsend, Northfield 23:43.2
10 Heidi Brynn, Stowe 23:43.9
11 Chace Carpenter, BFA-Fairfax 24:01.7
12 Kayla Corrigan, Rice 24:05.1
13 Amelia Nuzzo, Stowe 24:19.4
14 Alexandria Giesing, Oxbow 24:32.7
15 Monica Lawyer, Enosburg Falls 24:41.8
16 Hannah Achilles, Windsor 24:46.4
17 Ellen Emers, Hazen 25:02.2
18 Kaitlyn Sargent, Randolph 25:08.3
19 Juliette Boone, Richford 25:12.1
20 Aiyanna Vargo, Randolph 25:12.3
25 Rosalie Wasser, Stowe 25:54.0
26 Fiona Reed, Stowe 26:07.9
36 Paige Van Patten, Stowe 26:55.1
45 Paige Hamilton, Stowe 28:02.1
49 Rachael Wells, Stowe 29:00.4
Team results, girls’ Division 3
1. 21 points, BFA-Fairfax
2. 27 Oxbow
3. 66 Stowe
4. 77 Randolph
5. 89 Rice Memorial
6. 116 Richford
7. 128 Northfield
8. 151 Thetford
9. 183 Green Mountain
10. 185 Rochester School
11. 201 Enosburg Falls
12. 210 Arlington
13. 223 South Royalton