Gilford, NH – Last weekend, the top 24 boys and top 24 girls high school skiers from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York descended upon the Gunstock Ski Resort for the TD Bank Eastern High School Championships, hosted by the Gunstock Nordic Association. The three-day event, featuring a 5K individual start freestyle race, a freestyle sprint, a mixed technique/mixed gender relay and a 7.5K mass start classic race, brings together the top talent from the Eastern states and is the season finale for many high school nordic skiers in the New England/New York area.
Team Vermont used consistently strong performances and unmatched depth in each of the four races to pull away for a landslide victory over the five-team field, amassing a grand total of 15,316 points – easily defeating runner-up Maine with 12,645 points. Massachusetts kept things interesting all weekend and surprised New Hampshire by taking third place with 12,187 points. Host state New Hampshire placed fourth, just 177 points behind Massachusetts, with New York taking fifth with 7,663 points.
The weekend got underway with the 5K freestyle races on Friday. With rain predicted for the weekend, athletes, coaches and spectators were relieved to be greeted by only overcast skies and no precipitation in New Hampshire.
In the girls race, New York had a strong showing, putting two athletes on the podium. Amanda Moreland (NY) cruised to a 24 second win over second place Elise Seyferth (VT), with Danielle Winslow (NY) another nine seconds back in third.
Vermont added another three top-ten finishes with Mary Kate Cirelli (4th), Kyle Prohaska (6th) and Grace Wright (9th). An impressive four J2 girls cracked the top ten with New Hampshire’s Tess Hamilton in fifth, Massachusetts’ Mackenzie Hitchcock in seventh, Wright’s ninth place finish and Hannah Benson (NH) in tenth. Maine’s lone top ten finish came from Sarah Abramson in eighth place.
It was a tight race at the top in the boys 5K freestyle race. Vermont’s Kalle Jahn edged Isaac Hoenig of Massachusetts by two seconds for the win, with Eric Lusgarten (VT) four seconds behind Jahn in third place.
Hoenig was backed up by Massachusetts teammates Tom Rummel in eighth place and Andrew Reed in tenth. Maine added three top-ten results, thanks to Riley Eusden (6th), Kelton Cullenberg (7th) and Peter Cowan (9th). Sean Doherty of New Hampshire was the only J2 boy to crack the top ten with his fifth place finish and New York’s William Frielinghaus claimed fourth to lead his team.
Saturday’s racing featured a 1.2K freestyle sprint in the morning, followed by a mixed gender relay in the afternoon. Vermont continued to push the pace and distance themselves from the field, while Massachusetts kept their streak alive with their third straight relay title.
Cirelli, Friday’s fourth place finisher, gave Vermont its second win of the weekend in the girls sprint. Cirelli used a strong move up the final hill of the sprint course to distance herself from Andrea Fisher of Massachusetts to take the sprint title. Fisher held off Maine’s Shelby Aseltine to round out the podium.
Hailie Lange and Kaitlin Fitzgerald of Vermont placed fourth and tenth, respectively, to put three Vermont athletes in the top ten. New Hampshire went 5-6-7 with strong skiing from Hamilton, Benson and Anna Breu. Hitchcock led team Massachusetts with an eighth place finish, while Victoria Bernard of Maine captured ninth place.
In the boy’s sprint, Jahn made it two for two and easily took the sprint title over Maine’s Nate Niles, who edged Reed of Massachusetts to third place. Eusden and Cowan from Maine backed up their teammate with fourth and sixth place results, while Reed had support from Massachusetts teammates Hoenig and Rummel in fifth and seventh place. New Hampshire athletes Austin Hart and Nick Murphy moved into the top ten on day two by placing eighth and tenth, respectively. Ryley Walker from Vermont finished ninth.
With a few hours to recover, teams regrouped for the afternoon relay race. The girls classic leg scrambled to lead off the relay. Jenna Maddock moved to the front and quickly assumed the lead for New Hampshire, passing off a four second lead over Massachusetts’ Nadja Kern, to teammate Nick Murphy.
Kern’s teammate, Isaac Hoenig, overtook New Hampshire and took control of the lead with Peter Cowan from Maine and Kalle Jahn and Eric Lustgarten, both of Vermont, trading leads in the chase pack. Hoenig tagged teammate Mackenzie Hitchcock with a sizable lead, which Hitchcock would improve upon, and Andrew Reed skied a strong anchor leg on the two-lap freestyle course to bring home the win for Massachusetts.
The battle for the podium continued with Maine anchor Riley Eusden outsprinting Vermont’s Brian Vargo to claim second place. Just three seconds back, Ryley Walker of Vermont gave their second team a fourth place finish, with New Hampshire’s top team, anchored by Sam Reed, taking fifth.
The dismal weather forecasted all weekend finally came to fruition, just in time for Sunday’s mass start 7.5K classic races. Rain, sleet and soft snow conditions greeted the athletes for their final day of racing, but thanks to the superb efforts of the Gunstock Nordic Association and volunteers, the trails held up beautifuly, despite the subpar weather.
The girls classic race was a battle to the finish with the top four racers separated by just six seconds. Jenna Maddock from New Hampshire replicated her impressive scrambling leg in the classic portion of Saturday’s relay and took first place in the final event of the Eastern High School Championships. Just three seconds behind, Vermont’s Seyferth crossed the line in second, with Kern (MA) nipping Cirelli (VT) at the line to claim third and lead the Massachusetts team.
Moreland and Winslow from New York took fifth and seventh to lead their team, with Vermont getting backup from Fitzgerald and Wright in sixth and ninth place. Hitchcock placed eighth for Massachusetts while New Hampshire rounded out the top ten with a tenth place finish for Benson.
In the boys race, Isaac Hoenig took the lead, as he did in Saturday’s relay, and never looked back. Winning by nearly thirty seconds, the Massachusetts senior looked strong as he dropped the field midway through the first lap and continued to build a commanding lead. Sam Reed from New Hampshire fought it out alone in second place for most of the race and finished nearly fifteen seconds up on third place finisher Kalle Jahn (VT).
Massahusetts placed three in the top ten with Hoenig in first, Reed taking fourth and Andrew Nesbitt in eighth. Maine’s top trio of Cullenberg, Eusden and Cowan added fifth, seventh and ninth place. Vermont had Lustgarten in sixth to back up Jahn, while New York’s Frielinghaus taking tenth place.
When individual results were tabulated, Kalle Jahn, a senior from Brattleboro, VT, was named the top overall finisher, largely on the strength of his freestyle results, while Massachusetts teammates Isaac Hoenig and Andrew Reed, both seniors, claimed second and third in overall scoring.
Mary Kate Cirelli, a junior from Rutland, VT, took the overall title for the girls, with Elise Seyferth of Vermont and Danielle Winslow of New York going 2-3 for the girls overall results.
Complete results are available below, through NENSA: