November 21, 2014

New England at the feet of CVU girls runners

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Cross country team best in New England

Nov. 18, 2010

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Champlain Valley Union High’s girls cross country team, pictured above, captured its second New England title in seven years on Saturday. Runners are (from left) Aleksey Jordick, Claire Trotter, Adrienne Devita, Sophie Hess, Taylor Spillane, Summer Spillane and Julienne Devita. (Observer photo by Greg Duggan)

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork!

That is the key word for the Champlain Valley Union High girls cross country team, which won its second New England title in seven years Saturday at the hilly Thetford course on which it had prevailed in the Vermont State Meet two weeks before.

“We ran almost the same race we did in the states,” coach Scott Bliss said this week, noting that the individual times for the top five CVU runners were within two seconds ahead of or behind their state times.

Bliss had a coach’s usual pre-race dread of the unanticipated event (i.e. injury, illness, fall, etc.), but said everything went well including no surprises.

As per usual, it was the closeness of the finishers that earned CVU its biggest win in an undefeated season. Senior Summer Spillane was the top Redhawk in 24th place with a time of 20 minutes and 31.9 seconds.

Cousin Taylor Spillane, a sophomore, was 25th in 20:33.6, less than two seconds off Summer’s pace. Sophomore Aleksey Jordick (20:39.8) took 28th, junior Adrienne Devita came in 32nd (20:54.3) and sister Julienne Devita, a sophomore, was 62nd.

The team scores had CVU with 88 points to 121 for runner-up and highly regarded LaSalle of Rhode Island and 154 for third place Glastonbury, Conn.

The next highest Vermont team was Essex High, which took 14th place with top runner Markie Palermo finishing 17th.

The leading Vermonter was Richford High’s Elle Purrier, who, running as an individual, finished fourth in 19:44.1.

CVU’s boys team finished 25th overall and fourth among Vermont schools. Dan Hebert led CVU by finishing in 95th, eighth among Vermont runners.

Next up for the girls will be a post Thanksgiving regional event in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in which they will compete as a club, rather than a school, in the non-High School Federation competition.

Going into the New Englands, the CVU girls were ranked 24th in the nation by Harrier Magazine.

Runners talk diet, teamwork

A chat session with the team last week at CVU had the five top runners joined by juniors Claire Trotter and Sophie Hess, the sixth and seventh competitors though not necessarily in that order.

“They are very important,” Bliss said. “A team has to have solid sixth and seventh runners if something happens to anyone up front. Also, a team’s sixth runner breaks any team scoring ties involving the first five.”

The coach added that Hess has finished fifth in some races this season.

Teamwork was a constant during the wide-ranging discussion.

“We set team goals,” Summer Spillane said. “Yes, we have individual times but it is the team that comes first.”

“Once you start a race, there is no backing down,” Taylor Spillane added. “You have to think of the team.”

All agreed the sport requires hard work and, as Julienne Devita noted, the mindset has to be right.

“Pain is the seventh power,” Adrienne Devita said.

As for diet, the runners said they eat a lot of carbohydrates on Thursday through race day Saturday, with a pasta dinner every Friday night.

On the morning of the competitions, breakfast would be oatmeal, bananas and perhaps toast.

How did they feel about the New England meet two days before the event?

“We are confident,” Summer Spillane said. “We have run so many races there.”

“But we are not overconfident,” Adrienne Devita emphasized, with Summer Spillane nodding in agreement.

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