Rasputitsa cyclists brave chilly weather and mud season

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A mass start heralded the beginning of the 47-mile Rasputitsa cycling race.  More than 350 racers began and ended the 47 mile race in downtown Newport on a cool Saturday morning in support of the Mary E. Wright Halo Foundation.

A mass start heralded the beginning of the 47-mile Rasputitsa cycling race. More than 350 racers began and ended the 47 mile race in downtown Newport on a cool Saturday morning in support of the Mary E. Wright Halo Foundation.   Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle April 23, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — Mud season is typically a time of year that Vermont residents have come to dread. For the 350 riders in Saturday’s Rasputitsa cycling event, however, mud season represented a challenge that begged to be accepted.

The lure of the Rasputitsa is one that finds its roots in the European Spring Classic bicycle races, co-organizer Heidi Myers told the Chronicle on Friday. The growth of gravel road racing nationally, coupled with the success of Ms. Myers’ and fellow co-organizer Anthony Moccia’s Dirty 40 race last August, led them to attempt a second race in the Northeast Kingdom. The fact that so many cyclists braved a blustery April morning and 47 miles of often treacherous back roads appears to have confirmed their belief in the sport’s popularity.

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Susan Dunklee makes history again, returns home

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Olympian biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton smiles in the cafeteria at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where she trains as part of the Green Racing Project.  Photo by Natalie Hormilla

Olympian biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton smiles in the cafeteria at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where she trains as part of the Green Racing Project. Photo by Natalie Hormilla

copyright the Chronicle April 2, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

CRAFTSBURY — Susan Dunklee of Barton returned to Vermont last week, having made history once again.

After her Olympic run in Sochi, Russia, in February, it was back to business as usual on the biathlon World Cup circuit.  In her final week of races, in Oslo, Norway, Ms. Dunklee had a career breakthrough:  She came in third in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, marking the first time in 20 years that an American woman biathlete graced the World Cup podium.

“Just to get up there, when it’s the same field, it’s pretty special,” she said in an interview last week.  She was referring to the wide field of athletes that participate in World Cup races.

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First annual March Madness Basketball Tournament held at Brownington school

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The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16.  The team, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, included:  Alaina Zenonos, Olivia Lacoss, Molly Horton, and Tia Martinez.  In the back row, from left, are:  Faith Kempton, Katie Willard, Kennedy Falconer, Bria Lacoss, and Coach Mike Lacoss.  Photos courtesy of Mike and Barb Lacoss

The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16. The team, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, included: Alaina Zenonos, Olivia Lacoss, Molly Horton, and Tia Martinez. In the back row, from left, are: Faith Kempton, Katie Willard, Kennedy Falconer, Bria Lacoss, and Coach Mike Lacoss. Photos courtesy of Mike and Barb Lacoss

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16.  The Troy girls were runners up.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division.  The Brighton boys were runners up.

Nine teams from six schools played in the tournament, which was a fund-raiser for the eighth-grade field trip and the new Brownington Athletic Fund.  — submitted by Mike and Barb Lacoss

The Troy girls were runners up.  In the front row, from left to right, are:  Makayla Ban, Alicia Farrell, Brook Gentry, Sammy Barcomb, Katie Lacasse, Ally Santaw, and Mckenna Marsh.  In the back row, from left, are:  Darcy Mayhew, Abby Baraw, Rebecca McDonald, Abbie Desjarlais, Fayth Columbia, Jessica Carr, and Coach Shannon Bowman.

The Troy girls were runners up. In the front row, from left to right, are: Makayla Ban, Alicia Farrell, Brook Gentry, Sammy Barcomb, Katie Lacasse, Ally Santaw, and Mckenna Marsh. In the back row, from left, are: Darcy Mayhew, Abby Baraw, Rebecca McDonald, Abbie Desjarlais, Fayth Columbia, Jessica Carr, and Coach Shannon Bowman.

The Brighton boys were runners up.  In the front row, from left, are:  Jacob Kocis, Troy Sanville, Alex Barnes, and Josh Rivers.  In the back row, from left, are:  Asstistamt Coach Cooper Densmore, Nicholas Bingham, Zach Letourneau, Aaron Verge, Kyle Hackett, and Coach Bill Burns.

The Brighton boys were runners up. In the front row, from left, are: Jacob Kocis, Troy Sanville, Alex Barnes, and Josh Rivers. In the back row, from left, are: Asstistamt Coach Cooper Densmore, Nicholas Bingham, Zach Letourneau, Aaron Verge, Kyle Hackett, and Coach Bill Burns.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division.  In the front row, from left, are:  Noah Rivard, Alex Fearino, Zachary Vill’neuve, and Michael Martin.  In the back row, from left, are:  Coach Tony Lamoureux, Cody Bingham, Austin Oleskiewicz, Curtis Bowen, Garrette Blake, and Coach Bob Bowen.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division. In the front row, from left, are: Noah Rivard, Alex Fearino, Zachary Vill’neuve, and Michael Martin. In the back row, from left, are: Coach Tony Lamoureux, Cody Bingham, Austin Oleskiewicz, Curtis Bowen, Garrette Blake, and Coach Bob Bowen.

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In boys basketball playoffs: Ghosts fend off Ranger comeback bid

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Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night.  A Lake Region senior, Provoncha's 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium. Photo by Richard Creaser

Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night. A Lake Region senior, Provoncha’s 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle March 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

BARRE — The Lake Region Rangers (18-4) battled through 20 regular season and two playoff games to earn a berth in Thursday night’s semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.  Squaring off against the second-seeded Randolph Galloping Ghosts (20-2), there were no illusions about how tough a game this would be.  The DIII semifinal marked the first sell-out crowd of the Barre tournament, tournament officials told the Chronicle.

Both teams had fought hard to make it to Barre but only one would emerge to compete for the DIII crown.  On this night, with a 70-59 win, it would be the Ghosts.

“They play good ball pressure,” Ranger Clint Provoncha said of the Ghosts.  “They were really aggressive on defense and they never give up.”

Tenacity was the name of the game for both of these squads.  Though falling behind by a basket in the early goings, Lake Region managed a 7-2 lead until foul troubles upended the Ranger attack.  Halfway through the opening quarter, the Rangers had accrued five fouls.

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In boys basketball: Gray’s return to NCUHS bad news for Falcons

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NCBBall Gray cmykcopyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — It was a bittersweet homecoming for Kendrick Gray, who returned to the North Country gymnasium for the first time this season on Friday night.  Gray, a former North Country Falcon freshman, now plays for the Rice Green Knights (12-3) as a potent sophomore forward.

“Coming in as an opponent was pretty nerve-wracking,” Gray said after Rice’s 74-39 win.  “I just wanted to do my best and everything kind of came out.  I wasn’t expecting to have as good a game as I did.”

Gray exhibited the kind of skills that made him a fearsome opponent for any team.  His 17-point performance, tops among both teams, including shooting 4 for 9 from the free throw line, a three-point basket, and five other baskets including a crowd-inciting dunk in the first quarter.  The fact that his heroics inspired cheers from both halves of the crowd was not lost on the amiable sophomore.

“I knew I couldn’t hide forever and I’d have to come back sometime,” Gray said smiling.  “I love my Newport peeps.  I love this place.”

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Young pitchers and catchers take up yoga

copyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — Jay Gonyaw has operated a clinic through the Junior Legion Baseball Program for area pitchers and catchers for the past eight years, first at IROC and now at North Country Union High School.  His coaching experience, however, goes back even further.  Mr. Gonyaw is also the coach of the North Country Falcons junior varsity squad.

“I coached my first time when I was 18 years old,” Mr. Gonyaw told the Chronicle on Tuesday.  “So I’ve been around baseball and coaching baseball a long time.”

What Mr. Gonyaw has noticed lately is that his young athletes often aren’t quite in the condition they should be.  To remedy that, he’s introduced an unlikely new element to his coaching regimen — yoga.

A number of factors contribute to the fact that  kids aren’t as limber as they once were.  They range from the widespread use of technology to a more stringent focus on single or double sport athletic training.

“You see it when a kid transitions from playing in one sport season and switching over to a different one in the next season,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “They have to be in great shape to play at a high level in one sport, but when they switch they end up sore.  They’re going from working one group of muscles to a completely different group of muscles, and their bodies just aren’t ready for that.”

The ability to adapt from one sport to the next has also declined as varsity athletes begin to focus more on a single sport instead of the two or three sports that athletes of his generation played, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Working on the muscle groups that are used most ignores the benefits that a more complete workout experience delivers to those muscle groups you use less frequently.

Back in the day when outdoor activities formed a major part of a child’s life, multiple muscle groups were always being tested.  Kids rode bikes through town, played soccer in the park, or swam at the local beach.  As “free-play” activities have diminished, so has exposure to different kinds of body workouts.  And that has affected the ability of athletes to meet the physical demands of their sports, Mr. Gonyaw said.

“I see a lot of kids coming into my clinic or at the start of the season and they are pretty stiff,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “It got me to thinking that the traditional stretching routine maybe isn’t working as well as it used to.  So I started to think outside the box.”

So Mr. Gonyaw and his fellow trainer Eric LeBlanc arranged for yoga instructor Rebecca Marcotte of Barton to come in and work with his players.  The first 30 minutes of each weekly session are dedicated to yoga stretching and the final 60 minutes to pitching and catching.

“We’ve been at it for five weeks of our seven-week clinic and we’re already seeing a big difference,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “I’ve had kids ask me why we didn’t do this sooner, so they’re really buying into it.  They’re seeing the value of what we’re doing.”

While the clinic focuses on pitchers and catchers, the benefits of yoga would apply equally across the diamond and the outfield, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Pitchers and catchers are the only players with direct interaction with every pitch but that doesn’t mean that the position players, or batters for that matter, wouldn’t benefit as well.

“A centerfielder or a left fielder might go a couple of innings without needing to do anything,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But then they need to be ready to run at full speed and make the catch or make a throw right away.  That puts a lot of strain on the body.”

Not only will yoga help players perform at a higher level of readiness, but it should also help to avoid some of the more common injuries that occur during the season.  As short as the high school baseball season is in Vermont, by the time an injury has healed the season is effectively over for that player.

“I think we will see some early results when we start the daily practices in the spring,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “The real test will come at the end of the season when we see how many injuries we have or how many sore arms we have.  I really think that this is going to make a huge difference.”

Mr. Gonyaw intends to bring back yoga for his clinic in future years, and he also hopes to incorporate a ten- to 15-minute yoga routine in his daily practices and pre-game regimen.  As the student athletes become more comfortable with the yoga routines, he expects that players may also start to recognize the meditative benefits of yoga as well.

“I know of yoga mostly as a good way to stretch out your muscles and joints,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But I can see a time when a batter or pitcher can step back and refocus for the next at-bat.  The mental part will come.”

Mr. Gonyaw’s annual pitching and catching clinic is open to a wide range of ages from 12 years old to 17 years old and to kids from all over.  This year’s group includes four catchers and 13 pitchers who work with Mr. Gonyaw and Mr. LeBlanc, a former pro baseball player.

“Eric really has an amazing understanding of what it takes to pitch at all levels,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “He understands the mechanics of each pitch and the benefits of a good stretching routine.  That really enhances the experience for everyone.”

The positive feedback from players so far indicates that Mr. Gonyaw’s unorthodox yoga regimen has hit a home run.  How well the yoga stretching philosophy extends beyond the kids in his clinic is yet to be seen.

“I definitely think there’s something here that would benefit all players in all sports,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “If it helps them perform better and avoid injuries, it’s been totally worthwhile.”

 contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

For more free stories like this one, please see our Sports pages.

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In boys basketball: Chargers regain winning ways against Websterville

copyright the Chronicle February 5, 2014

by Richard Creaser

In the battle of the freshmen, Craftsbury Charger Austin Masi (foreground) outpaces Websterville Warrior Wyatt Morrison during Monday's varsity match in Craftsbury.  In the background Chargers Issac Spaulding and Jon DeLaBruere (back right) hustle to support the attack.

In the battle of the freshmen, Craftsbury Charger Austin Masi (foreground) outpaces Websterville Warrior Wyatt Morrison during Monday’s varsity match in Craftsbury. In the background Chargers Issac Spaulding and Jon DeLaBruere (back right) hustle to support the attack.

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Academy Chargers boys basketball team (12-2) returned to form with a 56-33 win over the visiting Websterville Baptist Christian School Warriors (1-14) Monday night.  The boys had suffered a 68-35 loss to Rochester on Saturday.

The team struggled at times to find its rhythm, but that was due to trying new lines, Craftsbury Coach Derek Cipriano explained after the game.

“Overall, I think we did a good job of working the play and moving the ball,” the coach said.  “I was trying to get everyone into the game and that affected us offensively.  But I also have to give credit to Websterville for making us earn it tonight.”

Charger Issac Spaulding singled out Warrior Hayden McIntyre for his strong play under the net.  McIntyre was a highly visible presence under the basket, using his superior height and reach to break up plays and block shots.

“We don’t have that kind of size so we knew we couldn’t take him on head-on,” Spaulding said after the game.  “But we learned if we boxed him out and went around him we could usually find an opening and take the shot.”

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In girls basketball: Chargers defense stifles Warriors

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Craftsbury Charger Mackenzie Blaney (center) takes a shot against Websterville Warrior Abby Fifield (left) as fellow Charger Janet Bohannon looks on.  Photos by Richard Creaser

Craftsbury Charger Mackenzie Blaney (center) takes a shot against Websterville Warrior Abby Fifield (left) as fellow Charger Janet Bohannon looks on. Photos by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle February 5, 2014

by Richard Creaser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Chargers girls varsity basketball team (13-1) executed a total lockdown defense on Monday night enroute to a 61-5 win over the visiting Websterville Baptist Christian School Warriors (3-11).  Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas said that he has always focused on defense as part of his team’s strategy and that focus certainly showed on Monday night.

“In a 120-minute practice, we spend about 80 minutes on defensive drills,” Coach Thomas said.  “I’m not too worried about our offense.  We have such a great depth of offensive talent that I would rather focus more on what we need to do defensively to win games.”

A lack of bench depth certainly hampered the Warriors.  Of the nine players on the roster, only six suited up for Monday’s contest with a seventh attending though on crutches.

“I think that alone speaks to the great conditioning on that team,” Coach Thomas said of his opponents.  “With only one sub, they were still able to play through the whole game.”

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Sargent joins friends in Sochi for Olympics

Ida Sargent of Barton will ski in her first Winter Olympics next month.  Photo courtesy of Dave and Lindy Sargent

Ida Sargent of Barton will ski in her first Winter Olympics next month. Photo courtesy of Dave and Lindy Sargent

copyright the Chronicle January 29, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

 

On the week of her twenty-sixth birthday, Ida Sargent of Barton got some very big news — that she had officially been named to the U.S. Olympic women’s cross-country ski team.

“I think when I found out I couldn’t stop smiling,” Ms. Sargent said in a telephone interview Friday from Toblach, Italy, where she will compete in two World Cup races this weekend. 

The weekend’s events are the last for Ms. Sargent before she heads to her first Olympic games, in Sochi, Russia.

“Then on Sunday, we’ll drive to Munich, then Monday we do all the processing — fill out the forms, get the visas figured out, and get our uniforms.  Then on Tuesday, we fly to Sochi.”

Even with the Olympics around the corner, Ms. Sargent is still focused on the tasks at hand.

“Right now, I’m still kind of focusing on these next World Cup races and trying to just take each moment in stride,” she said.

Her birthday plans included hard training sessions in the morning, followed by fun with a couple of friends who just happen to be in Italy, too.

“Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee are training about 30 minutes from here, which is really unique, because we usually don’t cross paths,” she said.  “That’ll be a really special way to celebrate my birthday.”

Ms. Dunklee and Ms. Dreissigacker are newly named Olympians themselves, having been nominated to the U.S. women’s biathlon team.

The three women have known each other most of their lives, through skiing together at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, first as kids in the Bill Koch League, then as young women in the Craftsbury Green Racing Project.

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In girls soccer: Tigers stun Rangers with 2-0 upset win

LR girls soccer Menard

Lake Region’s Megan Menard (center) finds herself surrounded by Middlebury jerseys during Wednesday’s DII playdown game at Lake Region. The type of smothering coverage Menard encountered on this play from Tigers Gabrielle Ingenthron (left), Katherine Holmes (right) and Claire Armstrong (background) symbolized the intensity of Middlebury’s play. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 10-25-2013

ORLEANS — Coming into Wednesday’s DII playdown game, October 23, Lake Region (12-2) and Middlebury (2-12) appeared to be at polar opposites of the spectrum.  The host Rangers averaged nearly three goals per game and had been shut out only once this season, and that by the DIII powerhouse Peoples Academy team.  The Tigers had struggled to find the back of the net all season, having been shut out ten times including nine straight games to finish off their season.

All of Middlebury’s games this season have been against DI or DII schools.  Lake Region played two DII schools this season in Lyndon Institute and Lamoille Union with its other 12 games coming against DIII and DIV opponents. Continue reading

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