COLCHESTER, Vt. - Nine schools are slated to be represented when Saint Michael's College hosts the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship for men's and women's cross country on Friday afternoon. The 6K women's race begins at 3:30 p.m. before the men's gun sounds 45 minutes later for their 8K competition.
Admission is free for the event, and spectators are encouraged to park in the lot in front of the Tarrant Recreation Center. Both courses begin on the 300s Townhouses recreation field, situated behind the Tarrant Recreation Center, before winding through the Doc Jacobs Field Complex and into Winooski's Gilbrook Natural Area, ultimately wrapping back around the townhouses to send the runners down the stretch to the finish line on the 300s Field.
Saint Michael's is hosting the meet for the first time since 2011 and will be hosting its third race on campus in the last two falls. Men's and women's harriers from Castleton University, Johnson State College, Landmark College, Lyndon State College, Middlebury College, Norwich University and Vermont Technical College are all expected to compete, while Green Mountain College is sending its men's squad.
Middlebury's men and women have both won six of the last seven titles, including last fall, with the lone non-victorious season coming when they skipped the 2013 championship. The Panther women are ranked eighth in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division III national poll, while their men are seventh in the New England rankings.
The Saint Michael's women won their lone state crown in 2013, while Purple Knights have claimed four of the last eight individual titles. Mary Lynn Denholm '09 was the first runner in school history to win states, in 2008, while Gabrielle Naranja '14 (2011) and Chloe Boutelle '16 (2013, 2014) were victorious during the last five seasons. Since 1992, Saint Michael's has finished no worse than third at every Vermont championship, including placing among the top two 18 times. The men have been one of the state's top three teams on 15 occasions in the past quarter century. Both the Purple and Gold men and women took third place at the 2015 meet.
In their season opener, the Purple Knight women won the Shacklette Invitational on Sept. 4, and first-year Abby French (Nashua, N.H./Academy of Notre Dame), senior Molly Roush (Rouses Point, N.Y./Northeastern Clinton Central School) and junior Roxy Withers (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) have been the team's top three at both meets thus far. The men were second at the Shacklette Invitational, while senior Ross Henry (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston) and first-year Kevin Jeter (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie) have both paced the team and been second once apiece.