WINDSOR -- The Nordic skiers from the Berkshire County League just received a huge advantage on the rest of the field slated to descend upon Notchview Reservation on Tuesday for the MIAA state meet.
Saturday's final regular season race at Notchview was laid out almost identical to the one the state meet will use Tuesday. The biggest difference will be the finish, which will add an extra kilometer. Despite the extra distance, the skiers gained insight into which hills are incorporated and how, which always seems to be a crucial piece of information.
"It was definitely a challenging course," said Mount Greylock's Grace Smith, who won the girls race in 24 minutes, 52 seconds. "There were a lot of hills with Staircase and Anthill and Shaw.
Most of the top skiers don't mind the hills. It's what generally separates them from the rest of the field.
"I like the fact that it's a lot of hills because a lot other people don't like hills," said Hoosac Valley's Jared Haley, who finished ninth Saturday. "It's just about keeping a really good tempo up the hills, and that's how you get past people, you just got to go right by them on the hills. You can't just settle."
The teams with the most top-end skiers fared better as a result. The defending state champion Mount Greylock boys team won by placing four in the top seven. Matt Wiseman was the team's top skier, finishing third in 22:53. Northfield Mount Hermon's Henry Colt won the race in 21:26.
On the girls side, Smith's first-place finish led a trio of Mounties in the top eight. They had all five inside the top 14. Sophie Gerry (sixth) and Christina Butcher (eighth) were the second and third Mountie finishers, respectively.
Lenox's Josie Marshall's third-place finish and Wahconah's Ellen Ross' fifth-place finish rounded out the top county results.
J2 and Eastern High School circuits aside, this was the first race of the season that didn't consist of laps, which skiers found refreshing.
"... Your thinking is totally different. You have to warm up longer, and then also you don't go through it a first time," said Greylock's Jake Foehl, who finished seventh in the boys race. "So you get one shot at each hill and that's all you get. If you don't take it very well, then you don't even have a chance to get it on the second time around.
"Always good to race here before states because, obviously, this is where states is going to be. We did pretty much the same course, so I think this experience will help us when strategizing for our race on Tuesday."
Heading into the state meet with just two days off may seem a bit daunting, but for those same top skiers, it's nothing new. When competing at J2s and EHS, the norm is skiing multiple races in a weekend over a three-day period.
Recovery boils down to eating well and not overtraining in between races.
"I get really, really psyched up after races, so there's no better feeling after a race," Marshall said. "So I think the fact that we're racing now then so soon makes me really happy, and I get really excited for states, too."
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1. Henry Colt (NMH), 21:26; 2. Estevan Velez (NMH), 21:44; 3. Matt Wiseman (MG), 22:19; 4. Tyler Andrews (M), 22:48; 5. Ian Culnane (MG), 22:53; 6. Will Nolan (MG), 22:57; 7. Jake Foehl (MG), 23:06; 8. Curran Doyle (W), 23:22; 9. Jared Haley (HV), 23:22; 10. Jonah Hudson-Erdman (NMH), 23:41; 11. Tom Damery (M), 23:44; 12. Tommy Kirby (MG), 23:46; 13. Wenczel Kale (A), 23:48; 14. Jake Kobrin (MG), 24:03; 15. Sean Peters (W), 24:05; 16. Derek Wood (MG), 24:20; 17. Young Ciaran (A), 24:29; 18. Rye Buckley (NMH), 24:30; 19. Gauthier Owen Devlin (A), 24:37; 20. Caleb Raymond (MG), 24:42; 21. Dom Carnevale (W), 24:58; 22. Travis Ciempa (HV), 25:00; 23. Matas Rudzinskas (L), 25:06; 24. Crowley Duncan (A), 25:10; 25. Toby Weed (NMH), 25:16.
1. Mount Greylock 21; 2. Northfield Mount Hermon 30; 3. Wahconah 66; 4. Amherst 69; 5. Mohawk 71; 6. Hoosac Valley 107; 7. Lenox 115; 8. Simsbury 153.
1. Grace Smith (MG), 24:52; 2. Allison Lull (M), 26:05; 3. Josie Marshall (L), 26:12; 4. Roo Weed (NMH), 26:44; 5. Ellen Ross (W), 26:46; 6. Sophie Gerry (MG), 27:14; 7. Loulou Tanski (NMH), 27:24; 8. Christina Butcher (MG), 28:01; 9. Valerie Willocq (A), 28:03; 10. Izzy Lotocki (NMH), 28:07; 11. Charlotte Price (A), 28:14; 12. Abby Wiseman (MG), 28:37; 13. Amanda Riley (A), 29:03; 14. Ellie Williams (MG), 29:06; 15. Lily Howes (W), 29:10; 16. Meghan Moody (W), 29:57; 17. Ella Sears (W), 30:16; 18. Alice Huth (L), 30:21; 19. Maya Sutton-Smith (NMH), 30:31; 20. Tulsa Douglas (A), 30:57; 21. Niku Darafshi (MG), 30:58; 22. Stacey Tutela (W), 31:01; 23. Sophie Silverstein (L), 31:07; 24. Greta Savitsky (MG), 31:07; 25. Eva Laubauch (NMH), 31:14.
1. Greylock 27; 2. Mount Hermon 40; 3. Wahconah 53; 4. Amherst 53; 5. Lenox 80; 6. Mohawk 88; 7. Simsbury 151; 8. Hoosac 152; 9. Taconic/Pittsfield 173.
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