BURLINGTON–The conditions at the Vermont State Division I Track Field Championships were anything but ideal, but that did not stop the North Country Falcons from achieving success at the meet.
The boys team brought home two first place finishes at the event, the first one coming from Jason Webster, whose 134 foot throw in the discus propelled him six feet past Brattleboro's Andy Hale for his second consecutive state title.
"Of course I am ecstatic to come back and defend my title. It was one of those things that I worried about all season, but coach told me to relax and do what you do.
"I didn't throw as far as I would have liked, but a win is a win."
Webster also commented on the tough conditions that all the athletes had to deal with.
"It was a huge factor. It was hard to hold on to the disc, but luckily there were pauses in-between to dry off
The last person to win back-to-back state championships for North Country was Mark Shelton in 1979 (136' 6") and 1980 (153' 10").
Mark, who was on hand at the event watching his son Barry compete, had this to say about the achievement;
"It is impressive. I like the fact that they are competitive and explode when they need to, and Jason has a really spectacular release."
Said coach Lonnie Wade, "Last year Jason progressed as the year went on. This year he had a PR (personal record) early, then he struggled a little bit, but then things started to click again and he threw another PR and it was very exciting."
Other North Country discus scores include; Riley Simoneau, 116' 10", Taylor Prue 113' 4", and Barry Shelton, 101' 5".
The boys almost made it two in a row in throwing events when Riley Simoneau's shot put went for 46 feet 4 inches.
But Cody Nash-Gibney barely edged him out with a distance of 47 feet 1 inch.
"I'm a little angry, but I respect him (Nash-Gibney) because he won," said Simoneau with a smile. "It wasn't the best day, but I went out there and tried the best I could."
Shelton took fifth in the event with a distance of 42' while Webster was right behind him in sixth, throwing for 40'11".
The fact that Shelton was at states is an interesting story.
After taking two years off to fulfill his ROTC duties in preparation of joining the Air Force, Shelton returned to the track and field team this season.
"It was great to do something during the spring other than ROTC," Barry said on his way out. "I got in really good shape, making up for the time that I lost. I knew that form was something that was going to be really important, and I made it work the best I could."
What did the elder Shelton think of his son's ability to come back after two years and compete so well?
He said simply, "I am very proud of my son."
For Wade, it was a bittersweet day watching his outgoing seniors in their final competition.
"It is both happy and sad. It is nice to see what they have done to get here, but it will be said to see them go."
Simoneau and Webster also commented on their looming departure.
"I am going to miss throwing a lot, especially with theses guys.," Riley said. "I'm also going to miss coach Wade, but this was a good year."
Added Webster, "We are really close, we've been together for four years, We've bonded, had some good times, and there is no other group I would rather throw with."
The other first place finish came from Dylan Columbia. After finishing in second last year by a mere .19th of a second, Columbia won by an even closer margin, defeating Colchester's Alec Kozlowski by .02 of second 11.52 to 11.54.
"It felt great going out there and competing in the finals, especially having someone next to me like Josh Brien," said the champ. "I have been racing against these guys for the last four years, we are all friends, and it was great going out there with all these guys one last time."
Brien was sixth in the 100 with a time of 11.9, and Nick LeClair finished 12th.
In his first event of the day, Brien participated in the long jump where he finished 11th, leaping for a distance of 18' 3.5".
Columbia, Brien and LeClair were also at the event as three-fourths of the defending champions in the 4x100.
The senior trio, along with newcomer Alex Cotnoir filling in for Brian DeLaBruere, were looking to earn the second back-to-back title for the Falcons in 2012.
Things did not go as a planned for the foursome, although they did reach the podium, finishing in fourth place with a time of 45.8.
"Obviously we missed Brian and his ability to hit the corners, but this year we had two freshman come in and do a really nice job," said Nick LeClair.
Brien spoke to the fact that despite the competitive nature, the meet was a harmonious place to be.
"Everyone has such a great attitude here, like the guys from the Colchester 4x100 who we good are friends with. Everybody is just real nice."
On the girls side, the Falcons' participated in five events; discus, shot, the 800, 1500 and the 3000.
Freshman Cassidy Webster has a fantastic day at her first State meet, taking second place in the shot (88' 2") and third in the discus (31' 7.5").
"I felt pretty good out there. It (the meet) was exciting, something I have really worked for" said Webster about her day in Burlington.
Sophomore Jenna Moss competed in both events as well, finishing 12th in the shot (27'06") and fourth in the discus (82' 08").
Mara Spates was the third Falcon on the discus podium, taking sixth with a distance of 80' 09".
In the 1500, North Country sent out senior Avery Parsons-Grayson and junior Haley Jo Tetreault.
While she didn't finish as high as she would have liked, Tetreault still made it to the podium, taking sixth with a personal record of 5:02:01.
"I could really tell I was running hard because for the last 100 meters I could not feel my body," she said. "I was running as fast I could. Usually I tell myself 'You can run a little faster' and I do, but I knew this time, going down those last 100 meters, that I did not have anything left. I was going as hard as I could."
Said coach Tyler Alexander "Haley had a good race. She went out strong, and that was her strategy, to really challenge the pack right off the bat and she did that. It was a tough field today. She tried to make a couple of moves, but the other girls did not give her any ground, but again it was a good race with PR."
Parson-Grayson was twelfth, finishing the race in 5:11.03.
Tetreault also competed in the 800, placing 16th with her time of 2:34:66
In the final event of the day for the Falcons, Stephanie Watson came home eighth overall in the 3000, wrapping up the event with a time of 11:30:73.
North Country finished the day in ninth place with a team score of 20.
With multiple underclassmen gaining valuable experience at the state level, a bunch more that are starting to come into their own, plus a first class facility to train on, the North Country team should be a presence at Vermont's highest level of track and field competition for years to come.