Flu defeats Redhawk runners (10/29/09)

Bugged in districts, harriers chase state title Saturday

Oct. 29, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

“The championship could be decided by sickness,” recovering Champlain Valley Union High cross country coach Scott Bliss said over the telephone Sunday.

“It depends on who gets hit this week,” the coach said with a cough.

Bliss lost a top runner and himself to the flu in last weekend’s districts, plus another runner to mandatory school testing.

Bliss and his Redhawks are looking ahead to Saturday’s Vermont Championship competition at Thetford Academy. The boys and girls teams had to settle for runner-up finishes in the districts last Saturday at Missisquoi Valley Union High in Swanton.

For the girls, who bowed to a winning Essex team 39-54, a seven-year string of district crowns came to an end.

With Adrienne Devita sidelined by illness, CVU’s girls still took second in the individual finishes as Summer Spillane captured the spot. Aleksey Jordick came in fourth.

Essex runners grabbed the next four places to land the coveted team title.

Zach Pete had a solid second place run for the boys team, which wound up 12 points (43-55) behind titleholder Mount Mansfield Union High. Justin Mckenzie joined teammate Pete in the top 10 by taking sixth place.

Will the team be healthy for this Saturday? Bliss was asked.

“Knock on wood, I think so,” he replied.