January 22, 2018

2017/18 CVU winter sports season preview

Observer photo by Al Frey
Baker Angstman dribbles around a defender on the first day of try-outs for CVU’s basketball teams on Nov. 27.
For more sports preview photos, visit the Web Extras section.

Champlain Valley Union High coaches provide a snapshot of their teams for the winter sports season.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coach: Michael Osborne (fifth season)

Last season: 19-1, lost in the Division I finals

Key returnees: Will Burroughs, senior, forward; Spencer Dooley, senior, forward; Paul Keen, senior, guard; Graham Walker, junior, guard/forward.

Key newcomers: Joe Warren, senior, guard; Nikos Carroll, junior, guard; Bennett Cheer, junior, forward; Noah Martin, junior, guard; Cole Otley, junior, forward/guard; Mason Otley, junior, guard/forward; Jason West, junior, guard; Noal Allen, sophomore, forward; Ethan Harvey, sophomore, guard.

Outlook: After falling in its first-ever D-I state championship experience last year and graduating a talented senior class, the Champlain Valley boys basketball team is facing a rebuild. But coach Michael Osborne is excited about the team’s depth, overall length and size.

“We have a talented group that can compete with anyone on our schedule,” Osborne said. “We hope to get better every day, develop chemistry for this group and use the scrimmage season to get better.”

Osborne will rely on the team’s returning players to help the nine new players adjust to varsity competition.

Opener: Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament on Friday, Dec. 15, at CVU

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Ute Otley (seventh season)

Last season: 17-3, won the Division I state title

Key returnees: Shannon Loiseau, senior, forward; Lindsey Albertelli, senior, forward; Harper Mead, junior, guard.

Key newcomers: Too early to tell

Outlook: After winning the program’s fifth straight state title in what was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year last year, the Champlain Valley girls basketball team finds itself with another mix of experience and youth as it starts the campaign for championship No. 6.

“This team is very versatile and can play many ways — we can be big in the half court or fast in the full court,” Otley said. “I’m excited by the different types of defenses this team can play.”

Defense will be the early strength of this team, Otley said, with the offense working to find a rhythm after graduating three starters from last year’s squad.

Opener: Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament on Friday, Dec. 15, at CVU

BOYS HOCKEY

Coach: J.P. Benoit (first season)

Last season: 11-6-3, lost in the D-I semifinals

Key returnees: Raf Ribeiro, senior, defense; Jennings Lobel, senior, forward; Jake Schaefer, junior, forward; Charlie Averill, junior, forward.

Key newcomers: Too early to tell.

Outlook: The graduation of a large senior class and the retirement of the entire coaching staff makes this season one of change for the Champlain Valley boys hockey team. First-year coach J.P. Benoit steps in as head coach, and Jennings Lobel and Raf Ribeiro take over as team captains to guide a young Redhawks group. Jake Schaefer and Charlie Averill will look to provide the offense, while Ribeiro will provide the defensive experience. Leadership will be key for a team that features five sophomores and three freshmen.

Opener: Friday, Dec. 8, vs. Lower Canada High School at Cairns Arena

(L to R) Emily Zambarano, Lydia Maitland, and Katie Peck await their turn at a recent pre-season practice of the combined CVU/MMU girls hockey team

GIRLS HOCKEY

Coach: Paul Wintersteen (third season as coach of CVU-MMU co-op)

Last season: 9-11, lost in the D-I quarterfinals

Key returnees: Lydia Maitland (CVU), senior, forward; Jackie Ryan (CVU), senior, forward; Lauren Hanley (CVU), senior, forward; Emily Zambrano (MMU), sophomore, defense; Joanna Wright (MMU), senior, goalie.

Key newcomers: Too early to tell.

Outlook: With three of the team’s top scorers returning and Joanna Wright back in net, the third season of the Champlain Valley-Mount Mansfield co-op team will have experience to draw on. But the CougarHawks did lose a lot of game experience with the graduation of last year’s seniors, and they will look to younger players to step in and take over roles.

“If we play good, sound hockey and players excel in their roles, we’ll be competitive in a tough Division 1 league,” Coach Paul Wintersteen said. “The kids continue to enjoy being with each other and playing as one team.”

Opener: Saturday, Dec. 9, at Rutland

ALPINE SKIING

Coach: Mike Minnerly (14th season)

Last season: Boys, sixth at states; girls, fourth at states

Key returnees: Rebecca Provost, senior; Nathalie Paquette, senior; Briggs Francis, senior; Nate Coffin, senior.

Key newcomers: Olivia Zubarik, Seth Boffa, Sean Gilliam.

Outlook: With a strong mix of both upperclassmen and freshmen and sophomores, the Champlain Valley boys and girls alpine ski teams are feeling good as they begin the season. Strong senior leadership from Nathalie Paquette, Rebecca Provost, Nate Coffin and Briggs Francis will help the team as the younger skiers get used to high school racing.

“We want to grow as a team through the course of the season,” coach Mike Minnerly said. “We want to peak at the districts meet in February and the state championships in March.”

NORDIC SKIING

Coach: Sarah Strack (23rd season)

Last season: Boys, DI champs; girls, third at states

Key returnees: Hannah Bohmann, Lila Carleton, Geneva Cote, Mullien Francis, Sadie Holmes, Emma Hawko, Talia Loiter, Emma Strack, Kate Zoller, Jack Boynton, Jared Leonard, Gus Lunde, Jonathan McAuliffe, Aaron McNally, Matthew Silverman, Andrew Silverman.

Key newcomers: Ella Bohman, Celia Cote, Amelia Lepple, Conner Falk, Skyler Heininger, Aidan Ruggles, Nigel Wormser.

Outlook: A young group of skiers will look to return the Champlain Valley Nordic teams to the top at the state championships in February. An early start to the season — all skiers have been on snow already — has helped the youthful group get a jumpstart to this rebuilding year.

“Everyone has shown great promise during our first week of practice,” said longtime coach Sarah Strack. “Our returning skiers have already been on snow at Sleepy Hollow and have shown great leadership in helping our new skiers.”

With more than a handful of first-time skiers, Strack is counting on great leadership from her returners to help the team improve as they get closer to the state meet.

Opener: Saturday, Dec. 16, at Range

WRESTLING

Coach: Jared Royer (first season)

Last season: Third in the Vermont wrestling state championship

Key returnees: Justin Bissonette, junior; Jacob Graveline, junior; Lucas Brown, junior; Noah Townley, junior; Wyatt Sanserson, junior; Matt Triffaro, sophomore; Tyrese Stewart, senior; Hunter Poquette, sophomore; Jared Forsythe, junior; Calvin Morse, senior.

Key newcomers: Riley Brown, freshman.

Outlook: First-year coach Jared Royer takes over the reins of the Champlain Valley wrestling team this season after the Redhawks graduated two state title wrestlers from last year’s team. Early on the team will look at Justin Bissonette, along with a group of eight returning wrestlers, to set the tone for a young group.

“Being a young team, I expect to see a lot of growth over the course of the season,” Royer said. “One of our goals this year and every year is to keep producing state champions and to get our team to finish top three in the state.”

Opener: Wednesday, Dec. 13, at St. Johnsbury

Observer photo by Al Frey
Jam Giubardo works on her uneven parallel bar routine at a recent practice.

GYMNASTICS

Coach: Madison Bourdeau (third season)

Last season: Second place in the Vermont gymnastics state championship

Key returnees: Jam Giubardo, senior; Kam Giubardo, senior; Tali Giubardo, sophomore; Lexie Cody, sophomore; Laurynn Bombardier, sophomore.

Key newcomers: Delaney Miller-Bottoms, freshman; Macy Lagrow, freshman.

Outlook: After falling just below 12-time state champ Essex in last year’s state championship meet, the Champlain Valley gymnastics team returns 10 gymnasts and introduces four newcomers to a well-rounded team. With Laurynn Bombardier, Tali Giubardo and Lexie Cody, who all finished in the top 10 in the all-around competition last season, returning, the Redhawks are in a good position to continue to challenge rival Essex.

“Our goals for this year are to improve from where we left off last year,” Coach Madison Bourdeau said, “to learn and incorporate new elements into routines and to continue to encourage and support one another as a team.”

Opener: Tuesday, Dec. 12, vs. Randolph

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