The Yellowjacket girls cross country team poses for a photo at the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Championships in Swanton on October 19. (Photo by GEORGE OUELLETTE)

The Yellowjacket girls cross country team poses for a photo at the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Championships in Swanton on October 19. (Photo by GEORGE OUELLETTE)

Milton’s top three runners in the Division II girls cross country state championships each had a big part in the team taking home the third-place trophy, the girls’ first podium finish in more than a decade and the first for any Milton cross country team since 2008.

Heavy favorite Harwood cruised to the girls team title with two of the first four finishers and all five scoring runners coming across among the top 11 for a score of 34. Woodstock, with a first and third leading the way, easily picked up second place with 66 points.

But behind the two leaders, Milton and U-32 were battling it out for the last trophy, and thanks in large part to freshman Emma Preiss, sophomore Katie Rayner and junior Katie Brouard, the Yellowjackets earned the hardware by a three-point whisker.

Preiss, who was fifth, and Rayner, in sixth, finished 10 and eight seconds ahead of U-32’s first runner. The Raiders’ No. 2 came in 16th and their third was close behind, but Brouard stayed in front to place 18th, one spot and just six seconds faster to pick up another point for the Yellowjackets.

U-32’s depth closed the margin with the next two finishers between the battling teams, taking 24th and 27th to complete the Raiders’ scoring with 95 points. But Milton sophomore Elizabeth Bashaw and freshman Willow Kelly, each with runners close behind, finished 30th and 33rd — just a dozen seconds apart — to give the Yellowjackets 92 points and third place.

Sophomore Jordan Lehneman was 64th and Hannah Franzak — the only senior to run in the varsity boys or girls race for Milton — was 66th, in a Division II field that included 92 runners.

The girls team posted a stunning 134-point improvement from the 2012 state meet, when only Rayner (eighth) finished better than 45th.

The Yellowjacket boys cross country team poses for a photo at the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Championships in Swanton on October 19. (Photo by GEORGE OUELLETTE)

The Yellowjacket boys cross country team poses for a photo at the Northern Vermont Athletic Conference Championships in Swanton on October 19. (Photo by GEORGE OUELLETTE)

The Milton boys also turned in a strong 2013 race, moving up from 10th to seventh among the 14 Division II teams, finishing just 13 points in front of Mt. Abraham.

As with the girls, all the boys’ points came from freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

Junior Alex Lauzon led the team in 22nd, with freshman Ryan Joseph coming across just four spots and eight seconds back. Another freshman, Jordan Deep, was next in 55th, while junior Taylor Wensley (67th) and sophomore Erik Schmidt (85th) finished the scoring and varsity competition for Milton.

Including Ben Fondakowski, Rachel Lavallee and Lauren Juenker in the challenge race for non-varsity runners, Milton’s state-meet team included just one senior, four juniors, six sophomores and four freshmen.

ROSTER

Johnathan Bushey    Jr.
Jordan Deep    Fr.
Ben Fondakowski    So.
Ryan Joseph    Fr.
Lucas Lagro    Jr.
Alex Lauzon    Jr.
Trevor McNaney    Sr.
Erik Schmidt    So.
Taylor Wensley    Jr.
Elizabeth Bashaw    So.
Megan Brady    So.
Kaitlyn Brouard    Jr.
Hannah Franzak    Sr.
Lauren Juenker    So.
Willow Kelly    Fr.
Rachel Lavallee    Jr.
Jordan Lehneman    So.
Brielle McDonald    So.
Emma Preiss    Fr.
Katie Rayner    So.
Head Coach:  Gary Furlong
Assistant Coach:  Brent Towne