Girls Cross Country 3-Peats!

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Stephanie Ager, Staff Writer

On October 31st, 2020, the BFUHS girls cross country team was able to snatch another Division III state title in Thetford, Vermont, to give the Lady Terriers a 3-peat. 

The Terriers knew the race was going to be difficult and that they would be competing with targets on their backs. Even with a shortened season due to COVID-19, the girls were able to defend their division III title by 6 points. The Terriers finished with 27 points, while Thetford Academy fell short with 33 points, and Northfield trailed with 73 points. 

Just as the ladies had figured, they had to fight for the win. At mile two, Bellows Falls was in second behind Thetford. It wasn’t until the last half mile that they were able to move up enough to literally run away with first place. Runners Abby Broadley and Stephanie Ager established and held their positions early in the race. Broadley won the overall title and Ager finished in 4th (for team scorers; 6th overall). Victoria Bassette would battle a group late in the race and hold her spot to finish 10th overall and 5th as a team scorer.  Birgess Schemm had a surging finish to close out the Terriers scoring as the 17th team runner (22nd overall) for the Terriers, rounding out the final scoring position. Lilly Ware finished the race running a very strong effort. Captains Molly Hodsden, and Abby Dearborn ended their senior year with a title. Shelby Stoodley, the alternate, fought alongside her teammates to earn the title; she hustled to different parts of the course with passion and determination in mind to encourage the girls.  [Ed. note: In state cross country meets, teams must field 4 or more runners to participate in team scoring; runners who are not part of a scoring team achieve their individual result, but are pulled out of the team scores. For example, a team runner finishing 10th overall, but who has 3 non-team runners ahead of her, would be counted as the 7th team finisher.]

L to R: Coach Ferenc, Capt. Molly Hodsden, Victoria Bassette, Birgess Schemm, Capt. Abby Dearborn, Stephanie Ager, Shelby Stoodley, Abby Broadley, Lily Ware.

The winning ladies team is coached by Josh Ferenc, a professional runner who dedicates all of his time to help aspiring young athletes. Following the race, Coach Ferenc was asked this question: “How did you think the state meet would turn out?” He responded with: “The state meet went as we prepared for it to go. The girls had an objective that they wanted to execute, and we tailored our season around a peak performance for this day. We put all our focus on getting into the best race fitness shape, both physically and mentally, and let it all come down to just going out there and running our best efforts. This was not an easy task, as we only had control over ourselves. We had no control over how other teams prepared or progressed.” 

As proven, the race was a significantly close one, so as a result, Ferenc was asked the question: “Did everyone run as well as you had hoped, and did anyone run better than you thought they would?” He responded with: “The girls ran exactly what their fitness level predicted based on workouts. I am an ultimate optimist, so I really trusted each girl to perform at a certain level. Birgess, however, showed up and really ran an impressive effort. I’ve seen Birgess perform like this before, so I knew that the competitive nature was there, and when she started moving, I knew it was going to be incredibly interesting.” 

Ferenc made one final comment: “The top three girls did whatever it took to make sure we had the best chance to secure another banner. They committed to a run regiment and run plan in March, and showed what it would take to win. The team really started clicking as an entire unit at the start of October, when it really mattered most.”

The members of the 2020 Girls team included Broadley (11), Ager (11), Bassette (11), Schemm (12), senior Captain Molly Hodsden, Lily Ware (9) senior Capt. Abby Dearborn, and junior Shelby Stoodley. Next year the girls will return Broadley, Ager, Bassette, and Stoodley as seniors, and Ware as a sophomore, contesting for another title in the 2021 state meet. 

Update:  On Saturday, November 7, the Girls team competed in the Vermont XC Meet of Champions held at Hard ‘Ack Recreational Area in St. Albans, VT. Usually, after the State Meet, the top Vermont teams and individual runners compete in the New England Championships. However, due to Covid restrictions, that was not an option this year. But the Meet of Champs brought the top Vermont runners back for one final winner take all showdown – without the divisions. As anticipated, Abby Broadley was the winner who took all, finishing in first overall, outrunning Vermont’s best with a time of 18:43 over the 5,000 meter course. Stephanie Ager exceeded her own expectations by moving up from 20th overall after the State meet to finish in 10th place in the state with an excellent time of 20:02. Victoria Bassette, and Birgess Schemm finished 43rd and 67th respectively as the team finished 8th in the state. [You can check out results here.]

The 2020 cross country season was one for the books, and one for a banner. Congratulations to the girls cross country team and coach Ferenc!