In cross-country: Sam Brunnette wins Division I state championship

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Sam Brunnette approaches the finish line in Thetford, where he won the Vermont state cross-country championship Saturday.  Photo by Christina Cotnoir
Sam Brunnette approaches the finish line in Thetford, where he won the Vermont state cross-country championship Saturday. Photo by Christina Cotnoir

copyright the Chronicle October 29, 2014

by David Dudley

THETFORD — The North Country Union High School (NCUHS) Falcons had a strong outing at the Division I state cross-country championship in Thetford Saturday. Senior Sam Brunnette led the pack, finishing the 5-kilometer course in 17:06 to become state champ.

According to Falcons Coach Chris Shaffer, Brunnette is the second Falcon to claim that spot. Daniel Webster, who won back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004, was the first.

“I knew I had a shot,” Brunnette said during a phone interview Tuesday. “I kept telling myself, if I can keep a fast pace, I’ve got a shot.”

Judging by his time, he maintained a fast pace all the way through.

“Right off the line I tried to stay in front,” Brunnette said. “For the first mile, I could hear the pack behind me. Then I pulled away. I never looked back.”

Brunnette felt good going into the race, but he had those familiar pangs of doubt as the finish line approached.

“I always worry that someone behind me will have an amazing finish,” he said. “So I push extra hard in the final stretch. I don’t want to leave any room for them to catch up.”

A solid strategy for staying ahead of the pack.

Brunnette’s teammate Alexander Cotnoir took eighth place, finishing in 17:38. Andrew Franklin also finished strong, at 18:11, clinching sixteenth place. Patrick Tetreault finished in 19:49. Wyatt Hamby finished the race in 20:47 to round out the Falcons top five.

In a strange turn of events, St. Johnsbury Academy edged out NCUHS in a tie-breaker, where the sixth fastest runners from both sides have their times compared, to determine which of the two teams qualified for the New England State Championships. But then, when the results from all three divisions (I, II, and III) were combined, North Country came out on top. At eleventh place overall, the Falcons clinched a spot in the New England Championships, to be held in Manchester, Connecticut, November 8.

Brunnette, Cotnoir, and Franklin will all travel to Manchester to represent Vermont.

Then, on November 29, the Falcons trio will travel to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York, to join the Footlocker Northeast Regional Cross-country Championship.

contact David Dudley at [email protected]

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