MANCHESTER - After a remarkable season, both the Burr and Burton Academy boys and girls snowboarding teams will be looking to defend their state titles again this year.

Last season marked the fifth consecutive state championship for the boys team who used a 1-2-3 finish in the slopestyle event by Jake Gaudet, Elliot Buckley, and Sam Eisenhaur and a strong performance by Will Helmetag in the giant slalom to help propel them to another state title.

Caroline Kepler led the way for the girls team, taking first in halfpipe and second in slopestyle and giant slalom helping the team bring home the hardware.

While Kepler is returning this year, two members of last year's team that played a key role in their title run - Kiersten Lima and Gabi Hasaj - will not be returning.

Lima - who took first in slopestyle and second in halfpipe - graduated last year and Hasaj, who took third in slopestyle has relocated. Despite the losses Thomas said that the girls team remains strong.

"We have Caroline Kepler. I think she was the overall state champion last year, [she and] Kiersten Lima I think they were one and two, but Caroline is back. Katy Jones is back. Nora (Lindberg) is back on the team from last year and also Cali (Wadsworth) so we have four pretty strong girls on that side and I think Amelia Nick will be somebody that we can depend on and Mikaela McMahon," said new coach Jason Thomas. "Mikaela's a freshmen and Amelia was on the team last year and then we'll go from there."

Freshmen Taite Selden-Johnson and Una Langran comprise the rest of the girls roster.

Although they lost Guadet the boys side has a strong nucleaus returning and Thomas believes that there are some other members of the team who will step up.

"Will and Elliot are our top two riders I would say," said Thomas. "We have a kid Carson Hunter, whose a freshmen, whose pretty good. Taylor Nowicki is a good rider."

Jon Zaccheo, Jordan Heingartner, Trevor Biggs, Adrian Woodrow, Carter Chila, Kevin Gormley, Nick Scott, Geoff Fuller, and Britton Blanchard round out the boys roster.

Thomas said he will track the progress of the riders in the three different disciplines - halfpipe, slopestyle and giant slalom - thoughout the season to help create the best possible team as BBA begins making another run at the state title.

"We're trying to run this just like any other varsity [sport,] you're going to put your best people out there," said Thomas. "My hope is by the end of the season, by the time early March comes around when we're heading into the state championships, that we know who our best riders are at which disciplines and we can put the best people on the hill for each one of those things."

Another significant change this year is at the coaching position where Thomas replaces Amy Herrmann who led the Bulldogs to multiple state titles. When he heard of the vacancy Thomas said he volunteered to fill the position.

Having snowboarded growing up and being enthusiastic about the sport, Thomas said he felt this was a good opportunity to try to further the reputation of the program and the school.

"I think Amy did a nice job We're very competitive in the state of Vermont, but I want it to be seen as a legitimate varsity sport and I'm trying to make sure that these kids are being held accountable and that they're doing the training I think is going to help them take it to the next level. That's my goal."