By LAUREN READ
The Champlain Valley Union girls cross-country team just can’t stop setting records.
One week after finishing with their lowest point total at the Vermont state championships, the Redhawks did it again.
CVU captured the 84th New England high school championship on Saturday with 78 total points – their lowest point total at the regional championship race.
“Our fifth runner was in before any other team’s third runner was in,” CVU coach Scott Bliss said. “It was our lowest point total and highest point differential.”
Winning their fifth regional title since 2003,the Redhawks finished well ahead of LaSalle Academy of Rhode Island, the second-place finisher with 149 points.
“I think most people thought we were going to be good but probably rebuilding,” Bliss said of the team’s expectation this season. “I don’t think this level was completely expected.”
Alice Larson paced the CVU effort, finishing fifth overall in 18:53.8. Ella Whitman followed in 29th place, Alicia Veronneau came in 36th, Cate Noel was 42nd and Jasmine Nails rounded in out in 45th place.
“We’ve only had one other team that could maybe be better one-through-seven,” Bliss said. “Alice and Ella are our 1 and 2 and they are significantly better than they were last year.”
It was the second time this season that the Redhawks won on the Manchester, N.H. course. CVU won the Manchester Invitational and Bliss credits some of their success to familiarity with the out-of-state course.
“I think what helped them more than anything was the experiences that they had throughout the year,” Bliss said. “We raced outside Vermont five times over the year.”
With two titles under their belts already, the CVU harriers now set their sights on the Nike Cross Regionals on Saturday, Nov. 24, at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. They will race against top teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont.
With the No. 1 spot in the Northeast Region team rankings, according to dyestat.com, the Redhawks will aim for a spot in the Nike Cross Nationals with a top-two finish next week.
“Once you get there, there are so many good teams,” Bliss said. “It kind of comes down to what kind of day you have and some luck involved, too.”