CVU winter sports preview

Photos by Al Frey
Boys basketball lost in the state finals last year, but hope to redeem themselves on the court this winter.

Coach: Michael Osborne (fifth season)
Last season: 19-1, lost in the Division I finals
Key returnees: Will Burroughs, senior, forward; Spencer Dooley, senior, forward; Paul Keen, senior, guard; Graham Walker, junior, guard/forward.
Key newcomers: Joe Warren, senior, guard; Nikos Carroll, junior, guard; Bennett Cheer, junior, forward; Noah Martin, junior, guard; Cole Otley, junior, forward/guard; Mason Otley, junior, guard/forward; Jason West, junior, guard; Noal Allen, sophomore, forward; Ethan Harvey, sophomore, guard.
Outlook: After falling in their first-ever D-I state championship experience, Champlain Valley Union boys basketball is facing a rebuild after graduating a talented class. But coach Osborne is excited about the team’s depth and overall length and size. “We have a talented group that can compete with anyone on our schedule,” Osborne said. “We hope to get better every day, develop chemistry for this group and use the scrimmage season to get better.” Osborne will rely on the team’s returning players to help the nine new players adjust to varsity game.
Opener: Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament on Friday, Dec. 15, at CVU

Coach: Ute Otley (seventh season)
Last season: 17-3, won the Division I state title
Key returnees: Shannon Loiseau, senior, forward; Lindsey Albertelli, senior, forward; Harper Mead, junior, guard
Key newcomers: Too early to tell.
Outlook: After winning the program’s fifth straight title in what was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year, CVU girls basketball finds themselves with another mix of experience and youth as they start their campaign for championship number six. “This team is very versatile and can play many ways – we can be big in the half court, or fast in the full court,” Otley said. “I’m excited by the different types of defenses this team can play.” Defense will be the early strength of this team, Otley said, with the offense working to find a rhythm after graduating three starters from last year’s squad.
Opener: Kevin Riell Memorial Tournament on Friday, Dec. 15, at CVU

Coach: J.P. Benoit (first season)
Last season: 11-6-3, lost in the D-I semifinals
Key returnees: Raf Ribeiro, senior, defense; Jennings Lobel, senior, forward; Jake Schaefer, junior, forward; Charlie Averill, junior, forward.
Key newcomers: Too early to tell.
Outlook: The graduation of a large senior class and the retirement of the entire coaching staff makes this season one of change for the boys hockey team. First-year coach J.P. Benoit steps in as head coach and Lobel and Ribeiro take over as team captains to guide a young Redhawk group. Schaefer and Averill will look to provide the offense, while Ribeiro will provide the defensive experience. Leadership will be key for a team that features five sophomores and three freshmen as CVU looks to return to the top of D-I hockey.
Opener: Friday, Dec. 8, vs. Lower Canada High School at Cairns Arena


Coach Paul Wintersteen is looking to blend new and returning players on the ice this season.

Coach: Paul Wintersteen (third season as coach of CVU-MMU co-op)
Last season: 9-11, lost in the D-I quarterfinals
Key returnees: Lydia Maitland (CVU), senior, forward; Jackie Ryan (CVU), senior, forward; Lauren Hanley (CVU), senior, forward; Emily Zambrano (MMU), sophomore, defense; Joanna Wright (MMU), senior, goalie.
Key newcomers: Too early to tell.
Outlook: With three of the team’s top scorers returning and Joanna Wright back to guard the net, the third season of the Champlain Valley-Mount Mansfield co-op team will have experience to draw on. But the aptly named CougarHawks did lose a lot of game experience with the graduation of the first season class and will look to younger players to step in and take over roles. “I feel if we play good sound hockey and players excel in their roles we’ll be competitive in a tough Division 1 league,” Wintersteen said. “The kids continue to enjoy being with each other and playing as one team.”
Opener: Saturday, Dec. 9, at Rutland


Alpline skiers start dry land training well in advance of the snow.

Coach: Mike Minnerly (14th season)
Key returnees: Girls – Rebecca Provost, senior; Nathalie Paquette, senior. Boys – Briggs Francis, senior; Nate Coffin, senior.
Key newcomers: Girls – Olivia Zubarik, freshman. Boys – Seth Boffa, Sean Gilliam.
Outlook: With a strong mix of both upperclassmen and freshmen and sophomores, the CVU alpine ski teams are feeling good as they begin the season. Strong senior leadership from Paquette, Provost, Coffin and Francis will help the team as the younger skiers get used to high school racing. “We want to grow as a team through the course of the season,” Minnerly said in an email. “We want to peak at the districts meet in February and the state championships in March.”


The girls Nordic ski team is young but has great potential to bring the team to the top of the state championship this winter.

Coach: Sarah Strack (23rd season)
Key returnees: Girls – Hannah Bohmann, Lila Carleton, Geneva Cote, Mullien Francis, Sadie Holmes, Emma Hawko, Talia Loiter, Emma Strack, Kate Zoller. Boys – Jack Boynton, Jared Leonard, Gus Lunde, Jonathan McAuliffe, Aaron McNally, Matthew Silverman, Andrew Silverman
Key newcomers: Girls – Ella Bohman, Celia Cote, Amelia Lepple. Boys – Conner Falk, Skyler Heininger, Aidan Ruggles, Nigel Wormser
Outlook: A young group of skiers will look to return the CVU Nordic teams to the top at the state championships in February. An early start to the season – all skiers have been on snow already – have helped the youthful group a jumpstart to this rebuilding year. “Everyone has shown great promise during our first week of practice,” said longtime coach Sarah Strack. “Our returning skiers have already been on snow at Sleepy Hollow and have shown great leadership in helping our new skiers.” With more than a handful of first time skiers, Strack is counting on great leadership from her returners to help the team improve as they get closer to the state meet.
Opener: Saturday, Dec. 16, at Range


Junior Jared Forsythe returns as one to watch on the boys wrestling team.

Coach: Jared Royer (first season)
Last season: Third in the Vermont wrestling state championship
Key returnees: Justin Bisonette, junior; Jacob Graveline, junior; Lucas Brown, junior; Noah Townley, junior; Wyatt Sanserson, junior; Matt Triffaro, sophomore; Tyrese Stewart, senior; Hunter Poquette, sophomore; Jared Forsythe, junior; Calvin Morse, senior.
Key newcomers: Riley Brown, freshman.
Outlook: First-year coach Jared Royer takes over the reins of the Champlain Valley wrestling team this season after the Redhawks graduated two state title wrestlers from last year’s team. Early on the team will look at Bisonnette, along with a group of eight returning wrestlers to set the tone for a young group. “Being a young team I expect to see a lot of growth over the course of the season,” Royer said. “One of our goals this year and every year is to keep producing state champions and to get our team to finish top 3 in the state.”
Opener: Wednesday, Dec. 13, at St. Johnsbury


Girls gymnastics is looking to top last year’s second-place finish in the state championships.

Coach: Madison Bourdeau
Last season: Second place in the Vermont gymnastics state championship
Key returnees: Jam Giubardo, senior; Kam Giubardo, senior; Tali Giubardo, sophomore; Lexie Cody, sophomore; Laurynn Bombardier, sophomore.
Key newcomers: Delaney Miller-Bottoms, freshman; Macy Lagrow, freshman.
Outlook: After falling just below 12-time state champ Essex in last year’s state championship meet, the Champlain Valley gymnastics team returns 10 gymnasts and introduces four newcomers to a well-rounded team. With Bombardier, Tali Biubardo and Cody, who all finished in the top 10 in the all-around competition, returning, the Redhawks are in a good position to continue to challenge rival Essex. “Our goals for this year are to improve from where we left off last year,” Bourdeau said. “To learn and incorporate new elements into routines and to continue to encourage and support one another as a team.”
Opener: Tuesday, Dec. 12, vs. Randolph

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