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NEWPORTâ€“You could not ask for much better conditions to kick off a season, as with nary a cloud in the sky, the North Country cross-country team opened the 2012 campaign by sweeping the top spots in both the boys and the girls races, while taking the overall team races as well.
"We take it pretty seriously. We go into it saying 'this is our home meet', so we want to do well," said Falcon senior Haley Jo Tetreault.
And do well they did as the varsity action got underway with the girlsâ€™ race at 4:00.
Right from the start, it looked like it was going to be a two-person battle for the top spot between Lake Region's Emily Close and the Falcons' Haley Jo Tetreault.
Tetreault was in the lead with Close chasing her throughout much of the race, and that is the way it would stay at the end.
Tetreault crossed the line in first place with a time of 20:50 while Close came in behind her with time of 22:01.
"I was feeling really good," said Tetreault. "I have been training really hard with my coach so I feel I was ready to race hard and push myself."
"She has been training pretty hard and running with our boys, so we weren't really expecting less than a really great performance from her today," said coach Chris Schaffer. "We are aiming for her to get ready for that state meet. She is our top girl and she has worked very hard to get there."
Said Close, who was a bit hard on herself despite the second place finish, "I started out pretty fast, trying to keep up with Haley, but I ended up falling back. I had a bit of a mental break I guess. I tried my hardest, it was a good race, but not a very good day for me I guess."
"She was really nervous today about her first race of the season and I wanted her to have a relaxed race," said LR coach Greg Hennemuth. "She said she started out too fast, but I think that it is healthy to test those waters. We've got some more speed work to do and that is going to help her."
Other local finishes in the top fifteen for the girlsâ€™ race are:
Adele Woodmansee, NC, 5th, 22:58, Emily Millar, LR, 8th, 24:22, Jade Dandurand, NC, 10th, 24:56, Anaka Maher, LR, 12th, 25:33, Annie Arcoleo, NC, 14th, 26:41 and Maggie Stuart, NC, 15th, 26:54.
For the boys race, the odds on favorite was expected to be Hazen's Jeremy Ducharme, but an ankle injury out on the course left the title up for grabs.
It would be the Falcons grabbing that brass ring, taking the top four spots.
Heading into the final trip through the woods, the Falcons were all grouped up with Alex Cotnoir, Andy Franklin, Ross DeLaBruere, and Sam Brunette vying for the top spot.
Coming out of the woods and heading uphill for the home stretch it became a two-man sprint to the finish between Franklin and Cotnoir, with Franklin slightly ahead.
Undeterred, Cotnoir went reached into his reserves, bolted past his teammate, and took the lead with only feet to spare to win the race in 17:44.
Not too bad for a guy who had never ran a race in his life coming into this meet.
"This is my first race, and I didn't think this was going to happen, so that makes it all the better," said the sophomore. "I was feeling alright (on the course), I didn't get any cramps, but I did get a bee sting that hurt for the last half of the race."
Said his coach, "The boys have been training hard and working together, and they really worked together today. We had four guys in the top four spots all with PR's (personal record) so that is a good.
"Alex, hadn't raced longer than a mile, half-mile around the track and this is his longest race ever. He said he was nervous all through this, and I said to him 'stay nervous' because this is a good sign."
Hennemuth was pleased with both of his racers, saying, "Cody (Doldorf) ran in last week's Essex Invitational, and that seemed to be more of a mental battle. Today he seemed to like this course more and he looked a lot more relaxed, which is a much more promising sign."
"I felt strong today and beat my PR," said Doldorf, who along with Ryan Streeter, make up the LR boys team.
Other local finishes in the top fifteen for the boysâ€™ race are:
Andy Franklin, NC, 2nd 17:46, Sam Brunette, NC, 3rd, 17:53, Ross DeLaBruere, NC, 4th, 18:10, Patrick Tetreault, NC, 7th, 18:51, Ben Dillner, NC, 9th, 19:08, Cody Dolloff, LR, 11th, 19:51 and Bradley Dopp, NC, 13th, 21:14.
Looking towards the future Schaffer hopes to keep his team injury-free and find a little more consistency, something he said was not easily observable by the untrained eye.
Next up, the NCU team will head down to Lyndonville on Monday and will see if they can continue their winning ways.
Race time is 4:00.
Lake Region will take part in the three Stallion Invitational this Saturday at 9:00 AM.