Knight, Hill ski to wins in first Berkshire County race of season
Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect a changed time for Wahconah's Dominik Scalise, and Wahconah's team time.
OTIS — Neither Taylor Knight nor Tanner Hill crossed the finish line at last winter's Berkshire County Alpine season opener.
Knight was recovering from an ACL injury, while Hill carded a rare DNF, wiping out midway down Bousquet's race course.
However, on Monday in the 2019 opener at Otis Ridge, Knight and Hill started their respective seasons on a much higher note. Both laid down dominant runs to claim first place in the county's first meet.
"It was a really fun night. The course was awesome, the snow held up really beautifully," said Knight. "You've got to be more conservative on top, but you could really let it go down the bottom.
"It's just a fun night to see everyone and how far everyone has come."
Knight got a front-row seat to the start of Monument Mountain's Carly Terranova, (bib No. 7) who threw down a 32.05-second race. By the time Terranova finished, though, Knight was flying down behind her in bib 8. In her first race back from an injury that sapped her entire sophomore campaign, the Lenox skier outdid second-place Terranova by over a second in 30.99.
The 1-2 in the boys race were similarly stacked up one after the other, but this time Hill threw down the gauntlet time of 25.94 seconds. Racing in bib No. 35, Hill was the fifth boy to exit the starter's gate, giving Taconic's Andrew King (bib 36) a chance to see what the competition was.
After Hill's impressive finish, King chased him down and nearly caught up, posting a 26.57 time for second place.
"Just to finish," said Hill. "It looked pretty straight, little turny up top, but I was able to stay hot. Just wanted to stay consistent throughout the entire thing."
With Bousquet struggling to get snow on the ground in time for the start of the season, the county's opening meet was delayed slightly and moved to Otis Ridge. The result was excellent snow, but a much tighter course. The Bousquet slalom run will typically feature around 40 gates, while Monday's race had around 27, per Pittsfield High coach Bob Geller.
In the team standings, Hill's win helped the Warriors to an overall victory. Wahconah's trio of veterans; Drew Dunham, Kyle Brogan and Hill, all landed in the top five, setting the stage for a dominant 12-second gap. First-year Coach Dave Bowler's boys posted a 112.31, besting Monument Mountain (129.70) in second.
"They've been skiing for so many years now, and it's all kind of culminating in their senior year here," said Bowler. "The work they put in on weeknights at practice solidifies it.
"They look really, really strong this year. I expect, and hope to see a lot out of them this year."
To get where Wahconah wants to go, the Warriors will need depth. The fourth scorer for them on Monday was Tommy Dunham in 14th.
"We're all taking [this season] very seriously. We want to do well this year," said Hill. "We've got the Scalise brothers, Tommy [Dunham], we've got some guys really coming on."
"We've got a lot of really promising young guys who are rounding out the team," added Bowler. "We want to be six or eight racers deep, and they're all such hard workers, with all the dry-land training. We're starting to see the results at these races."
Monument put a trio in the top 10, with Keegan Leach leading the way in sixth. Lenox placed third and was led by Max DiGrigoli's fourth-place finish.
Terranova was runner-up, but her work at Otis Ridge helped keep the Spartans firmly in their spot atop the county. Paige Lussier stuck a landing in fourth, and Sydney Ruggiero and Alice Pajeski were top 10 as well. Monument posted a 137.13 time, with Lenox six seconds back in 143.62.
The Millionaires scored a third-place individual finish through Helena Jankovic, and got an inspiring run from defending county champion Abby Kate Caproni. The senior stumbled near the top of the slope, but recovered and then tore up the course at her typical pace to finish 10th overall in 37.59. With her sliding up on a regular basis, the Millionaires and Spartans will be in for a good fight all season.
"It was really fun. I'm so happy to be back and I'm glad to be a part of the team again," said Knight. "Lenox is pretty strong as a whole. Lot of young kids, and it's going to be awesome to see them grow."
Wahconah placed third, with a trio led by Cecelia Dunham running spots five through seven. With an overall time of 151.36, the Warriors are looking to make some noise on the girls side as well.
Team scores — 1. Wahconah 117.11; 2. Monument Mountain 129.70; 3. Lenox 129.75; 4. Taconic 142.52; 5. Pittsfield 161.29.
Top 15 — 1. Tanner Hill (W) 25.94; 2. Andrew King (T) 26.57; 3. Kyle Brogan (W) 26.74; 4. Max DiGrigoli (L) 28.59; 5. Drew Dunham (W) 28.86; 6. Keegan Leach (MM) 30.26; 7. Dominik Scalise (W), 30.77; 8. Ben Higa (MM) 31.05; 9. Andrew Churchill (MM) 32.09; 10. Zach Suffish (L) 32.98; 11. Noah Kirby (L) 33.44; 12. Owen Gutzmer (P) 34.41; 13. Shamus Gaherty (L) 34.74; 14. Ethan Coe (T) 34.84; 15. Tommy Dunham (W) 35.57.
Team scores — 1. Monument Mountain 137.13; 2. Lenox 143.62; 3. Wahconah 151.36; 4. Pittsfield 156.68; 5. Taconic 1127.45.
Top 15 — 1. Taylor Knight (L) 30.99; 2. Carly Terranova (MM) 32.05; 3. Helena Jankovic (L) 32.69; 4. Paige Lussier (MM) 33.00; 5. Cece Dunham (W) 33.91; 6. Aspen Burke (W) 34.69; 7. Danni Orlando (W) 35.05; 8. Sydney Ruggiero (MM) 35.91; 9. Alice Pajeski (MM) 36.17; 10. Abby Kate Caproni (L) 37.59; 11. Grace Swartout (MM) 37.79; 12. Dakota Grosz (P) 38.32; 13. Phoebe Whalen (P) 39.30; 14. Sarah Aitken (P) 39.43; 15. Carolyn Guachione (P) 39.63.
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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