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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Gold to Arritola
at Lake Placid

WRHS boys add national title

Express Staff Writer

It doesn’t happen often, and that’s what elevates Morgan Arritola’s accomplishment during Friday’s Chevy Truck U.S. Junior National Cross-Country freestyle race event for 394 skiers at Lake Placid, N.Y.

Community School senior Arritola, 18, from Fairfield, won the gold medal in the J1 girls (ages 16-17) skate race on the 5-kilometer course at Verizon Sports Complex. Her 15:51.9 time paced 86 in her age class.

In addition, the Wood River High School boys’ cross country team won the national high school title for the third time in six years based on their results at the 2004 Junior Nationals.

But it was Arritola, daughter of Donnale Brown of Fairfield, who stole the show for Sun Valley Friday.

Arritola, who placed fourth 1:14 seconds back in Wednesday’s 10k classic race, powered up her considerable motor and out-raced Cassidy Edwards of Traverse City, Mich. by two seconds. She made up nine seconds in the final stretch to win the skate race.

Coach Rick Kapala said, "Morgan made up some serious time in the last part of the race. She really went into the race series well prepared."

Arritola joins a high-powered list of Junior National champions for Kapala that includes Mike Sinnott, Kaelin Kiesel, Lars Flora, Jedd Young, Jess Kiesel, Heidi Poehling, Morgan Hogue, Pat Casey, Michael Lloyd and three-time national champion Abi Holt.

Remarkably, Arritola has been skiing for only two years.

Kapala said, "We’ve never had anyone take that fast a ladder to the top. It’s remarkable what Morgan has done in two years. And, remember, each day she drives 55 miles one-way to school and skiing and then goes home. It’s a challenge."

All-American status, which Arritola earned with her fourth-place classic result and first-place freestyle victory, went to seven other Sun Valley skiers in Friday’s skate races.

Reid Pletcher, an All-American for his sixth place in Wednesday’s J2 boys (14-15) 5k classic event, posted another outstanding All-American result with his eighth place in Friday’s J2 skate race over 5k. His time was 13:38, just 49 seconds behind the winner.

Alexa Turzian emerged as the silver medalist in the J2 girls 5k skate race. Her time of 15:59 was 33 seconds behind the winning mark. She also won the national silver in 2003.

David Vanderpool rose all the way to fifth place in the J1 boys’ 10k skate race with a time of 28:53, 49 seconds back. He and three other teammates were All-Americans in that event—Luke Pletcher, Jackson Harris and Chase Cleveland.

And Alex Hamlin earned All-American distinction with a ninth place in the Older Junior (18-19) 10k skate race. He finished in 28:58.

When the points were added up, the seven Wood River High boys on the Sun Valley squad (Reid Pletcher, Luke Pletcher, Chase Cleveland, David Vanderpool, Jackson Harris, Alex Hamlin, Artie Livingston) carried away the national title.

"I was surprised we were able to win the national title without any top three podium finishes but we had consistent results all week. Overall, I’m just real excited about how we did this year," said Kapala.

And it wasn’t an easy weather or waxing week.

"It was great to be back in Lake Placid, our first time since my first year coaching at Sun Valley with Martha Pendl, Adam Heaney and the Jaquet boys in 1988," said Kapala. "We had all kinds of wild weather.

"Before we got there it rained and they had to truck snow into the stadium. Wednesday’s classic race was a tough waxing day—full-on Klister conditions. For Friday’s skate race it went from fast to slow to fast conditions, because it snowed about an inch-and-a-half before the J1 girls’ race."

Sun Valley’s efforts in freestyle and relays helped boost the 44-racer Intermountain team into third place in the Alaska Cup standings. New England led the nine-team field with 1528 points, Alaska was second with 871 and Intermountain third with 733, ahead of Rocky Mountain (697).

In Saturday’s relays: Alexa Turzian was on the fourth-place J2 team at 3x3k; Reid Pletcher joined the fourth-place J2 boys’ team at 3x3k; Jackson Harris and David Vanderpool were members of the seventh-place J1 boys’ team at 3x5k; while Morgan Arritola and Erin McQueen were on the fifth-place J1 girls’ relay at 3x5k.

The team banquet is Tuesday, March 23 in the Limelight Room of Sun Valley Inn. Then, top skiers head off to the International Spring Series March 27-April 4 at Winter Park, Colo.

Sun Valley results from Friday’s freestyle skate races:

OJ girls (5k): 25—Erin Magee 18:15. OJ boys (10k): 9—Alex Hamlin 28:58.

J1 girls (5k): 1—Morgan Arritola 15:51. 27—Erin McQueen 17:34. 58—Ruth Anderson 18:24. 69—Fraiser Opel 19:02. J1 boys (10k): 5—David Vanderpool 28:53. 16—Luke Pletcher 29:30. 26—Jackson Harris 29:53. 28—Chase Cleveland 29:59. 44—Delamon Rego 30:41.

J2 girls (5k): 2—Alexa Turzian 15:59. 22—Mali Noyes 17:45. 61—Courtney Perry 20:37. J2 boys (5k): 8—Reid Pletcher 13:38. 31—Artie Livingston 14:16.


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