WINDSOR -- Alex White and Will Kirby have matched each other stride for stride the whole season. They each won two of the four league races, but they both picked up the biggest win of the season on Tuesday afternoon.
The Mount Greylock boys' Nordic ski team placed five in the top 15 and easily won its sixth MIAA Nordic ski championship in the past seven years.
"We weren't exactly convinced that we were going to win because we knew there was some competition out here," boys' coach Hiram Greene said. "So the guys just had great races, and they're thrilled about it and so am I."
The Greylock girls placed seven in the top 30, including Kat Chenail's seventh-place finish, which is good for a win on just about any day. Just not this one. Lincoln-Sudbury claimed the eighth- and 10th-place spots, and edged the Mounties by two points, 72-74, for the state title. The second-place finish ends a run of five straight state titles for Greylock.
"I'm a little disappointed just because for some of them, this would have been six years of being state champions," girls' coach Hilary greene said. "And so to finish their high school career [that way] would have been really special, but they all skied really well.
"We can't control what the other teams do. We can only control what we do."
Kirby (21 minutes, 49.1 seconds) led the Mountie charge with a fourth-place finish, despite a fall in the first half of the course. He said he felt comfortable early on and sported a smile about 200 meters before catching an edge at the Trela Shelter. He recovered quickly and says he doesn't think it cost him any places.
"Honestly, I lost maybe 10 seconds, and it made me mad and I got really motivated," he said. "I kind of had an adrenaline surge, so it worked out OK."
White went off in the third wave, one behind Kirby, and stopped the clock in 22:27.9, good for seventh place. Sean Houston, who has routinely held his ground just behind Kirby and White, did so again. He beat everyone in his wave (4) by more than 30 seconds to finish 10th (22:54.9). Freshman Matt Wiseman picked up the final points for Greylock with his 13th-place result (23:15). Jake Foehl, who had the difficult task of going off in the first wave, held steady for 15th (23:31.2) and earned displacement points for his team.
Caleb Raymond (26th, 24:20.1), Derek Wood (34th, 25:13.7) and Jonah Majumder (43rd, 25:46.5) rounded out Greylock's eight.
Hoosac Valley's Jared Haley and Justin Barnes who had been Hoosac's most consistent skiers all season had solid performances, as well. Haley crossed the line in 25:39.7, good for 41st, while Barnes stopped the clock in 26:28.8, good for 55th. Dan Butler was 59th in 26:44.7. Mitch Barnes and Tom Galisa finished back-to-back in 112th and 113th, respectively. Galisa had Barnes in his sights coming around the final turn, but lost his balance. The soccer goalkeeper laughed it off and finished 8 seconds behind his teammate.
As for the girls' race, Chenail and Lenox's Josie Marshall were on each other's hip once again. But this time, it was by design.
"We kind of stayed together for the entire race," Chenail said. "We had talked about it before that we were going to go into it as teammates and just work together because it would be beneficial for both of us to have each other."
With strong wind gusts, they couldn't have been more right. They traded turns leading, while the other drafted. With one hill remaining before the final downhill to the finish, Chenail broke away from Marshall and beat her friend and rival by almost five seconds. She finished seventh and Marshall took ninth.
Marshall had won the final three league races after Chenail took the first. The second race of the season was the closest -- decided by just 2 seconds.
The Mounties then claimed spots 17, 24, 26, 27, 28 and 30. They had seven in before champion Lincoln-Sudbury had four. The Mounties just couldn't make up enough points to counter LS's eighth- and 10th-place results. Zavi Sheldon (64th, 32:05.4) was Greylock's eighth skier.
Sophia Dastoli took 17th (27:14.3), Grace Smith was 24th (28:35.4), Stephanie Adamczyk was 26th (28:47.3), Alexandra DeVeaux was 27th (28:47.6), Alexa Adams was 28th (29:07.1 and Sophie Gerry was 30th (29:16.7).
"They all had really good races ... really good highlights for next year, like [Smith] was our third skier, so that bodes really well," Greene said. "We had seven skiers in front of their fourth, so our pack was tight, meaning they all skied well.
"We didn't have the strong top runners, other than Kat, like Lincoln did, but we had some really good performances."
For Hoosac, Danielle Beauchemin had been on the upswing since the second meet and cracked the top 10 in the final race at Prospect. She put together a solid race (43rd, 30:30.3) out of the first wave, which put her focus to the test.
"I'm used to going out in the first wave. but it definitely bumps you down a little bit when you get passed by the second-wave kids who are really, really good. You get used to that," she said. "It's something you got to have a mindset about and realize that there is tremendously more people than usual, and you're going to get passed, no matter what and you can't let it get to you."
Teammate Holly Cadran went out with the toughest of the eight waves -- the second. Seven of the first nine places were taken by skiers from the second wave. Cadran finished in 34:59, good for 88th. Sam Staffin (41:45.4) and Allison Raceia (42:58.9) finished back-to-back in 115th, 116th, respectively.
Coming soon ...
The North Adams Transcript will be publishing a four-page section dedicated solely to the Mount Greylock boys' Nordic team's state championship. The section will appear in the Feb. 23-24 weekend edition and online.