With two weeks to go until the Division III Championships, local Alpine teams made the most of Monday’s slalom race at Mount Sunapee – the site of the state meet on Feb. 12.
Junior Brie Von Beren led the Kearsarge girls’ team to a win, while Bow freshman Connor Wachsmuth beat the entire field by more than six seconds, leading a 1-2-3-4 sweep for the Falcons and delivering them the win with a perfect score.
Von Beren, the defending giant slalom champion and slalom runner-up, sophomore Isabella Greason (third), Lara Stokes (eighth) and Megan Norris (10th) all finished in the top 10, giving the Cougars 382 points, topping runner-up Bishop Brady’s score of 372.
Kamryn Compton (fourth), Olivia Crainich, last year’s D-III runner-up in the GS and third-place finisher in the slalom (sixth), Sara LoPresti (ninth) and Sarah Vermette (14th) scored for Brady.
Sunapee (356), St. Thomas (341), Bow (338), White Mountains (329) and Hillsboro-Deering (82) rounded out the team scores for the girls.
Megan Lavigne (seventh) was Bow’s top skier while Chloe Braun (23rd) was the only skier to finish both runs for H-D.
“It was a hard track for sure. There was a lot of carnage,” said Kearsarge coach Bob Underhill, commenting on the large number of skiers that were disqualified or did not finish due to the icy conditions.
But Von Beren wasn’t fazed by the conditions, clocking a run of 1:03.98. Von Beren and the runner-up, Sunapee’s Maddie Austin (1:04.25), bested the rest of the field by nearly eight seconds.
“Brie’s starting to get more confident,” Underhill said. “Today she headed down there on a mission. It was good to see that.”
The Cougars had plenty of reasons to be confident, given that this is the same course they frequently train on, and with their improvement, now boast one of the deeper teams in the division.
“The girls are coming along. We’ve had a lot of really good improvement,” Underhill said. “They just want to go race. Their confidence is starting to get better. They’re getting fired up about states.”
Underhill also credited the Bishop Brady girls’ team on their performance and expects them to be near the top of the D-III standings in two weeks.
“We haven’t had a lot of head-to-head races (against Brady),” Underhill said. “Most of (the other teams in D-III) have a couple of racers who are strong, but not many teams are that deep.”
While the girls’ race featured the usual suspects at the top, the boys’ race was the opposite, with a young Bow team and a less-experienced Kearsarge squad taking the top two spots.
Wachsmuth’s time of 59.68 seconds was over six seconds faster than the rest of the competition. Wachsmuth is one of five freshman on a team of 11 skiers.
“It was absolutely fantastic ... he just dominated today,” said Bow coach Mike Sampo, who is in his first season at the helm of the program. “It was a breakout performance for him. He’s been near the top of the field all season, but he’s never finished first until today.”
Alexander Mangini, sophomore Jonathan Cook and freshman Aden Lipsy claimed second through fourth place, giving the Falcons a perfect score of 394.
And Bow can go even faster. Junior Ben Wachsmuth, Connor’s older brother, posted the third-fastest time on his first run of the day, but was one of dozens of skiers that did not finish his second run, which would have likely made the Falcon sweep even more difficult to break.
“It’s gonna be tough to compete with Bow,” Underhill said. “They’ve got some depth. They’re gonna be tough ones to beat.”
Although none of the skiers from last year’s state champion team competed on Monday, the Cougars still posted a solid second-place score of 374 and showed their depth, placing four in the top 10 and six in the top 18.
Freshman James Greason (fifth) was Kearsarge’s top finisher, followed by Mathew Noyer (seventh), Cole Dube (eighth) and Sam Meding (10th).
Like Bow, Kearsarge also had top skiers unable to finish both runs.
Sunapee (357), White Mountains (338), Bishop Brady (319), St. Thomas (314), Trinity (308), H-D (215) and Newport (153) rounded out the team scores.
Karl Averill (20th) and Will Verdi (25th) were the top two skiers for Bishop Brady. Zachery O’Connor (34th) was H-D’s top skier.
Kearsarge will compete at Gunstock on Tuesday and at Sunapee again on Friday before both Bow and the Cougars return to Mount Sunapee for a pre-meet race on Feb. 6 and the D-III Championship on Feb. 12.