Kepler takes first; BBA Boys come up short
After half a decade reigning supreme among the high school snowboard community, the Burr and Burton Academy boys team was finally toppled on Thursday when they recorded a 5th place finish at the State Championship.
The girls team, meanwhile, scored 49 team points, coming up just short of winning a second straight state title to Black River, which finished with 44 points.
"I think they were pleased with the performance," said BBA coach Jason Thomas. "They knew they were close. We were second after the pipe, third after the GS and we had a good slopestyle and it could have went either way. We thought Black River was going to be right up there. They've been strong all year."
BBA's Caroline Kepler took first place overall at the State Championship. Kepler took third place in halfpipe and slopestyle and fourth in giant slalom to finish with 9 points overall - six points fewer than second place finisher Cora Hartman of Bellows Free Academy.
"She enjoys riding and gets better every year and she is a model of consistency," said Thomas. "You don't need to necessarily be the best at one thing, but you just need to be good at everything and that's what she displayed, hence the overall individual champion for her."
The team received good performances out of Mikaela McMahon, who is a freshman, and Cali Wads worth who is a sophomore. Additionally Thomas said that some of the other underclassmen such as Una Langran and Amelia Nick - even though they were not among the team's scorers - put together some nice performances on the hill as well.
"It was solid all the way around. Our top riders did what we thought they were going to do," said Thomas. "We didn't have the spectacular run but we had consistency within our group and that's what helps you make a run at a championship."
In the girls halfpipe, Wadsworth (9th), McMahon (12th) and Lindberg (15th) were the team's other scorers behind Kepler. Lindberg also took 15th in slopestyle and was the second team scorer behind Kepler. Wadsworth and McMahon rounded out the scoring finishing 19th and 21st respectively. BBA's Una Langran and Amelia Nick were not far behind in the event, finishing 22nd and 23rd, respectively.
Wadsworth had her best finish in the giant slalom, taking 6th place and recording a time of 1:21.92 - 2.07 seconds behind Kepler's 4th place time of 1:19.85. Lindberg finished in 16th place and Taite Selden-Johnson finished in 18th with times of 1:38.89 and 1:40.45 respectively.
As for the men's team, Thomas said that a lack of depth and the members of the team not performing up to par was what led to their 5th place finish.
"We lost some key riders in the last week and it just became a numbers game and we didn't have our best two days," said Thomas. "Will Helmetag is one of the best riders in the state and he didn't perform up to what his expectations were for the day and we just had some errors at the wrong time." Thomas said Helmetag put together a nice run in the halfpipe, but crashed on his final trick, which led to his 20th place finish. Helmetag also found some trouble in the giant slalom, but was still able to put together a good enough run to finish in 5th place with a time of 1:20.02 - 12.36 seconds behind first place finisher Logan Farmer.
Taylor Nowicki was the team's top scorer in the halfpipe event finishing in 6th place followed by Helmetag, Carson Hunter (23rd) and Jon Zaccheo (25th).
After the halfpipe event, the team was about 60 points back going into the second day of competition. The Bulldogs were able to narrow the gap in the giant slalom and slopestyle events, but it just was not enough to climb back into contention.
In slopestyle, Helmetag took 9th followed by Hunter (17th), Zaccheo (26th) and Nowicki (34th). Helmetag's finish was uncharacteristic as Thomas said he typically finishes higher in the rankings in the event.
In giant slalom Zaccheo (12th) finished with a time of 1:24.78 behind Helmetag followed by Nowicki (30th) and Elliott Buckley (35th) who finished with times of 1:36.35 and 1:42.01, respectively.
"Unfortunately we didn't perform the way we needed to perform over the two days to get us into the mix," said Thomas. "We finished a disappointing fifth, but again it was just we lost three of our critical riders in a week and we had one of our better riders three weeks ago break his arm."
While the four snowboard members - which include Buckley, Nick Scott, Carter Chila (broken arm) and Britton Blanchard - are all still part of the team, Thomas said that they were ineligible for different reasons.
Being short handed, Thomas said the team only had four riders - the amount needed to receive a team score - available for both the halfpipe and giant slalom events.
Following the team's 5th place finish, Thomas said that the boys were disappointed.
"If those four kids came out and did what they've done all year we would have been right in the mix, but they had a bad two days," he said. "What we needed was just a little bit more depth to absorb somebody having an off day, but it was unfortunate that more than a couple of guys had an off day and we couldn't recover. We battled, but we were unable to make up the points."
The Bellows Free Academy boys team won the State Championship and Matthew O'Leary from Essex High School was the overall individual winner.
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