BENNINGTON, Vt. -- The first three Nordic races offered a little of everything or so we thought. The fourth race had a few surprises, namely Northfield Mount Hermon's Estevan Velez.
But in the end, not much changed in either the boys' or girls' race.
Velez has been slowly climbing up the ladder since his 13th-place finish in the season opener at Prospect Mountain Nordic Ski Center. He made a bold move to leave the pack and take the early lead.
It threw off the Mount Greylock boys' strategy at first. The Mounties have routinely led wire to wire. Some combination of Alex White, Will Kirby and Sean Houston have been in the top three much of each race. So when they received a little coaching at the top of the first hill -- not leading the pack -- it went a long way.
By the time the Greylock trio returned to the base of that same hill on the second and final lap, they were in position to make their move. By the top, they owned the top three spots.
From there, White pushed hard to create some distance, but Kirby gradually closed the gap until he could make his move just before the final downhill. The move put him back on the high podium for the first time since the season opener. White had taken the last two races and finished right behind in second. Houston completed the trifecta.
"It was nice. We have a big race [Sunday] in Boston, so it's like it's not even a full win because we did go fairly easy for the first two-thirds of the race," Kirby said. "Alex was really leading [our pack] most of the time. He was doing a lot of the work. I totally give him credit for that."
Jake Foehl and Matt Wiseman were the other Mounties to finish in the top 10. Greylock won the boys' race with 14 points. Northfield Mount Hermon took second (54), followed by Amherst (67), Wahconah (67) and Mohawk (71).
"We like to pride ourselves on our classic technique and our striding," White said.
The top girls also took it easy for most of the race, but the final results weren't much different than they've been.
Lenox's Josie Marshall and Greylock's Kat Chenail raced out to the front of the pack and stayed there. Marshall pulled away on the second lap for her third win of the season. She had a big smile as she rounded the final turn. Chenail finished second. Sophia Dastoli was fourth, Alexandra DeVeaux was fifth, Stephanie Adamczyk was sixth and Zavi Sheldon was eighth for Greylock.
In the team competition, the Greylock girls finished first with 17 points. Lenox was second with 42, with Northfield Mount Hermon (66), Mohawk (70) and Wahconah (71) rounding out the top five.
The race was the season's second of three classicals. The final is this weekend, which was originally scheduled for Notchview, but it looks more like another Prospect event. It was also the second mass start, but unlike the Wahconah meet, this one was a chevron start -- a pyramid formation for the top 15 racers based on the previous race's results. The different start was just the beginning, as the course was drastically different than most Prospect races.
Instead of starting with the hill by the lodge, the course first went to a much steeper, but shorter hill in the woods. It also utilized laps, something not common to Prospect because of its numerous trails. Perhaps the most exciting portion of the race was just 60 meters before the finish -- a downhill into a sharp right-hand turn, which sent more than a few skiers face-first into the snow.
"Usually we go down this [first] hill and it was very difficult seeing it from a different point of view," Greylock's Sophia Dastoli said. "It was steeper than we all expected.
"[The downhill into the turn] was difficult because there's a turn at the bottom and it gets washed away really quick."