Panthers Play Hard, Ski Hard as Season Progresses
January 25, 2024
With a slow, snow-less start to the season, TA’s alpine ski team had mostly dryland training on their practice schedule before last week’s first race. Coach Paul Dixon shared that the lack of on-snow training led to some jitters, and that he’d “be lying if I said that nobody had butterflies in their stomach before the first race of the season.” In fact, he added, “I think most had a touch of nerves before pushing out the starting gate at Saskedena Six.” Despite the early season nerves, TA’s team had a solid opener.
The Ladies were led by junior Maya Dixon, who put down a few of conservative but clean runs to finish 13th overall. The rest of the Ladies had “moments of greatness and also a few struggles along the way,” said Dixon. “In the end they all conquered their fears and were greeted by their cheering teammates at the finish.” Some standout performances were Mavis Downey, Ella Harvey, and first timer Jillian Fein in 23, 24, 25 respectively.
The deck was stacked against the Mens team, unfortunately, with junior Isaac Yukica injured and out for the season and his classmate Hardy Payson missing the first race. Senior Oliver Yukica and sophomore Elijah Renner stepped up to very respectable 14th and 16th. Both of them are off to a great start, said Dixon, and “We are looking forward to watching them both continue to progress.” Freshman Tanner Hardy finished in 18th in his first-ever ski race and “brings a lot of energy to the team.” The teams headed to Bromley for their second event on Monday, and will race next at Pico Mountain.
In basketball, the varsity boys continue their streak of wins,holding Division III’s top position with an 11-0 record. The Valley News recently reported on the team’s momentum. The Panther’s lone senior Mitchell Parkman told the paper, “No other team wants to play defense like we do. We might not put up 80 points a game but we’ll hold you to 40 and that’s how we win. Everyone’s helping on defense, just swarming the ball.”
Coach Jason Gray, who has eight years leading the team under his belt, agreed. “Our defense is meant to get baskets off transition. We get a lot of fast-break points and mismatches where our bigger guys drive the lane on smaller guys.” The strategy is working, and the odds are looking good for another Panthers’ trip to the Aud this year. The boys travel to Montpelier on Friday.
The varsity girls are finding their new identity without key players Addie Cadwell and Ashlyn Osgood, both out with season-ending injuries. After a hard-fought battle and win v. rival Windsor and a decisive toppling of Peoples last week, the Panthers took two losses this week vs. North Country and Harwood. They stand 7-3 for the season, ranked 4th in Division III. Tonight, the Panthers play at home v. Montpelier.
Indoor track and field has ended their regular season and are gearing up for the State Meet scheduled for this weekend. The meet doesn’t include throwing, so TA shotputters Chase LeFevre and Maddy Thaxton headed north to the VT Throws State Championship on Saturday. Both athletes made it into the finals where Maddy’s throw of 22’11 3/4″ earned her a solid 7th place in Division II and Chase’s 40′ 9 1/2″ throw put him on the podium in 3rd. Good luck to all of our Panthers in their upcoming events!