Girard, Kuchinski lead Spartan runners in NACs

Runners blast off from the starting line in the NAC Championships at home Saturday.
Christopher Williams/Castleton Spartan

The runners gathered around, bundled in layers of warm clothing trying to shield themselves from the brisk wind that whipped across the course. Minutes later, they stood anxiously at the starting line of the cross-country NAC Championships hosted at Castleton, ready to run a 5K.

“I was really excited because this is what we’ve trained for all season,” said sophomore Margie Kuchinski.

However, the weather was not ideal for this sport but Kuchinski said they pulled it off.

“Despite the adverse temperatures we came out and gave 110 percent,” she said.

Just seconds into the race Elizabeth Bassette led the pack of girls with another Spartan runner, senior Shelly Audette, trailing close by. When they were done running lass than half an hour later, the Spartans had three runners finish in the top 30.

Finishing in 20th with a time of 22:54, was Kuchinski, who was also the top finisher for Castleton.

“It was great. Everything hurt, but it was worth it,” she said, describing how she felt crossing the finish line.

Kuchinski said the feeling was truly indescribable, and now she said she’s looking forward to ECAC Championships this weekend.

Other top finishers for the Spartans included Caitlin Ryan, crossing the line in 25th place with a time of 23:27. Two seconds later, Kelsey Thomson came in, earning herself the 29th spot.

Overall, Kuchinski was very pleased with how the day went.

“As a team we worked really well together. Everyone really tried to push each other,” she said.

Later that afternoon, it was the men’s turn to tackle the course, although at a distance of eight kilometers.

“There was a lot of positive energy going into the race, but also a lot of negative energy because of the weather,” said sophomore Jonah Lavigne.

And junior Ben Girard had more on his mind than the weather.

“I was feeling a lot of pressure to perform well today after battling some tendinitis the last couple of weeks. I knew it was going to be a cold gusty run and that I needed to work behind and within groups of my taller competitors during the windy and exposed sections of the course,” Girard said..

Girard was top finisher for Castleton, bringing home a tenth place finish in 27:24.

“I was very happy to finish as the top Spartan because a few of my teammates, Grandon and Jonah, have made much larger overall improvements than I have this season,” said Girard.

He said after not running for two years, he is very satisfied with his overall success and progress this season.

Girard wasn’t the only one on the team to finish in the top 20. Freshman Grandon Smith, who has been a great competitor this season, came in 14th with a time of 27:31 while Lavigne finished just two spots behind him in 16th with a time of 27:51.

With ECACs up next, the men are full of positive vibes.  

“I’m very excited. I love running. We get to meet new people everywhere we go and I can honestly say that I have never had a race that is exactly like another,” Lavigne said.

Girard echoed his teammates excitement.

“We will make a valiant effort and hopefully have some more personal records on the flat fast course. It will not be easy or a small race but we will do the best we can,” he said.

The ECAC championships will be held Nov. 8 to Westfield, Mass.


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