Bulldogs claim third straight state championship

LUDLOW - All the hard work and training had prepared them for this moment and when it was all said and done the Burr and Burton Academy boys alpine ski team reigned supreme, capturing their third state championship in as many years.

"Their performance was just phenomenal," said BBA coach Pete McNealus. "Each one of those kids yesterday threw down their best run. They came to race and they came to really ski as a team. They weren't concentrated on being an individual, they were concentrated on skiing a solid, good run."

Burr and Burton dominated the field, easily securing their third state championship with a team score of 59 for the giant slalom and slalom events - a 63 point differential between them and second place finisher Woodstock Union High School who scored 122 points.

The victory was another step towards the ultimate goal for several members of team - winning four consecutive state championships.

"It was a very joyous occasion just like any state championship," said McNealus. "They just couldn't take that smile off their face[s] for anything. They were just so extremely happy, relieved; just a feeling of [euphoria]."

BBA took an 18 point lead ahead of the rest of the field following the giant slalom portion of the championships.

Ben Alexopoulos placed third overall in the event with a time of 48.10. Andrew Sherras and Tanner McGrath finished sixth and seventh with times of 48.92 and 49.09, respectively and Tom Morgantini rounded out the BBA scoring by placing 12th with a combined time of 49.74.

Richard Sherras and Tim Swinarton also finished in the top 20, placing 13th and 19th with combined times of 49.90 and 50.47.

The Bulldogs pulled ahead even more in the slalom event, packing five members of the squad into the top 20.

MMU's Tristian Palola took the top spot in the race, recording a combined time of 1:24.95 in the slalom event. But BBA's Tanner McGrath and Andrew Sherras placed third and fourth with combined times of 1:26.12 and 1:28.65, respectively, to make BBA one of only two teams - WHUS being the other - placing in the top 10.

Richard Sherras placed 11th with a combined time of 1:31.45 and Tim Swinarton was BBA's fourth scorer taking the 13th spot with a combined time of 1:32.36. Alexopoulos was close on his heels, finishing 14th with a combined time 1:32.51.

With the state championships behind them, some members of the Burr and Burton Alpine Ski team look forward to the Eastern High School Championships - which McNealus said is for the best high schools east of the Mississippi - set for this coming Saturday and Sunday at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, N.H. The boys and girls teams are composed of 12 skiers each and this year an unprecedented number of BBA students were selected to represent Vermont.

One third of this year's boys squad will be composed of BBA skiers as Alexopoulos, Morgantini, and Andrew and Richard Sherras will represent Vermont at the championships. McGrath made the team, but declined the invitation to take part in another race this weekend.

On the girls side, Sanderson Kemp, Katie Bourque and Olivia Burwell all made the team, but Kemp and Burwell declined the invitation to compete in other races.

"That's the most that Burr and Burton has ever qualified for the Eastern High School Championships in the boys and in the girls," said McNealus.

Follow on Twitter @BrandonCanevari.


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