Members of the St. J Academy girls track and field celebrate their fifth consecutive Division I track and field title on Saturday at Burlington High School. The Hilltoppers become the second D-I squad to record five titles in five years. (Photo by Paul Hayes)
Article courtesy of Paul Hayes/Caledonian-Record.
FAB FIVE: Rotti Sisters Lead Charge as Hilltoppers Capture Fifth Consecutive Crown
June 2, 2019
BURLINGTON — Back to back.
The St. Johnsbury Academy girls cemented their track and field dynasty by securing a fifth straight Division I championship at Burlington High School on Saturday.
Sisters Jen and Lia Rotti led the way. Together they won three events (Jen in 300-meter hurdles, Lia in javelin and pole vault) and scored 60 points as the Hilltoppers beat runners-up Champlain Valley, 142-107.
The St. J girls become the second D-I squad to record five-titles-in-five-years. The other is Essex, which had streaks of 12 (1985-1997) and six (2005-2010).
"We've done something no one else, outside of Essex, has done," said SJA head coach Chip Langmaid. "If you put together a great group of kids and a great group of coaches, that's what happens."
The difference was depth. The Rotti's won St. J's only individual crowns, but the team collected 14 second- and third-place finishes, and had 18 athletes score points, including members of all three relays.
It reflects the team's shared focus and determination, from top to bottom, Langmaid said.
"The kids went after it, they were aggressive and they performed," Langmaid said. "It's hard to do. This is a sport where every event is the last shot in basketball. Every event is that key. You can't let down."
By winning five in a row, the Academy made a statement.
The athletes who laid the foundation for the program's success are gone, but the Hilltoppers' dominance continues, suggesting there is something greater — culture, tradition and high standards — which explain the green machine's greatness.
"To be honest we sometimes put impossible expectations on them, following the people they are following," said Langmaid. "Everybody in town, everybody at school just expects us to win [but] it takes a tremendous amount of work and a huge amount of effort. It's hard."
Early in the meet CVU took a slight lead after going 1-2-3-4 in the 1,500 meters. Then St. J answered.
The Rottis were key. After years of playing a supporting role behind star athletes like Katherine Cowan (23 state titles indoor and outdoor), Grace Cooke and Hannah Wescott, they flourished in the spotlight this year.
Jen repeated as the 300 hurdle champ, winning in a season-best time of 47.45 seconds, and was runner-up in three events (100 hurdles, long jump and triple jump), and Lia claimed state titles in javelin (126 feet, 6 inches) and pole vault (9 feet, 6 inches) in addition to placing third in triple jump and fifth in long jump.
St. J outscored the Redhawks 92-6 in field events. In addition to the Rottis, the Hilltoppers got major contributions from throwers Sadie Bushway (second in shot put and discus), Kayla Talbot (third in shot put and discus, fifth in javelin), and Neva Bostic (second in javelin). Elizabeth Jones was third in pole vault.
Other top performers for the Academy were seniors Riley Higgs (third, 400 meters; sixth, 200 meters; second, 4x400; sixth, 4x100) and Rebecca Green (second, 4x400; second, 4x800; sixth, 400) and junior Hannah Davis (third, 100 hurdles).
St. Johnsbury will graduate 11 seniors, including seven scorers (and 96 points) from the state meet. Those 12th-graders exit on a high note, leaving behind a legacy of camaraderie, competitiveness and collective achievement.
"It's been such an amazing experience the past four years," said Rebecca Green. "I couldn't ask for a better group of girls to run with, and to win with."
Added Riley Higgs, "When I came in as a freshman I was terrified. I never thought that I'd be able to do anything like this, but after getting close with all the girls, it's like family. It's been fun, and it's been rewarding."
Those seniors hope next year's returnees continue to embrace the Hilltopper team values that have turned the program into something special: The best in Vermont, for five years and counting.
Said Lia Rotti, "It's all about passing that torch on. It's a sense that you are part of that tradition and you want to carry it on, and it's really up to the underclassmen to step up and do that. So I'm excited to see where they go next year."
DIVISION I GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
At D.G. Weaver Athletic Complex
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Team scores: St. Johnsbury 142, Champlain Valley 107, Essex 101, North Country 49, South Burlington 42, Burlington 36, Brattleboro 35, Mount Mansfield 24, Mount Anthony 15, BFA-St. Albans 4, Colchester 3.
100-meter dash: 1. Maggie Lonardo, Bratt 12.62; 2. Alexis Lefaivre, NC; 3. Caroline Hill, CVU; 4. Odessa O'Brien, SB; 5. Rebecca Crosier, MAU; 6. Jada Diamond, MMU.
200: 1. Alexis Lefaivre, NC 26.03; 2. Caroline Hill, CVU; 3. Maggie Lonardo, Bratt; 4. Quincy Massey-Bierman, BHS; 5. Rebecca Crosier, MAU; 6. Riley Higgs, SJ.
400: 1. Lizzie Martell, Essex 59.65; 2. Ellie Reed, Essex; 3. Riley Higgs, SJ; 4. Elizah Jacobs, CVU; 5. Olivia Maher, BHS.
800: 1. Lizzie Martell, Essex 2:21.30; 2. Quincy Massey-Bierman, BHS; 3. Jasmine Nails, CVU; 4. Sarah Gallagher, Bratt; 5. Hattie Barker, MMU; 6. Sadie Holmes, CVU.
1,500: 1. Alicia Veronneau, CVU 4:49.56; 2. Ella Whitman, CVU; 3. Alice Larson, CVU; 4. Jasmine Nails, CVU; 5. Finnegan Mittelstadt, CVU; 6. Natalie Preston, Essex.
3,000: 1. Ella Whitman, CVU 10:27.55; 2. Alice Larson, CVU; 3. Catherine Noel, CVU; 4. Morgan Marckres, Essex; 5. Isabel Vivanco, BHS; 6. Hannah Brisson, Essex.
100 hurdles: 1. Nejla Hadzic, Essex 16.12; 2. Jen Rotti, SJ; 3. Hannah Davis, SJ; 4. Teresa O'Leary, SB; 5. Grace Martin, Colc; 6. Annika Simard, Essex.
300 hurdles: 1. Jen Rotti, SJ 47.45; 2. Nejla Hadzic, Essex; 3. Emma Crum, CVU; 4. Jada Diamond, MMU; 5. Maddie Liebegott, SB; 6. Dory Abdallah, Bratt.
4x100: 1. Essex (Simard, Reed, Hadzic, Noel) 51.32; 2. South Burlington; 3. North Country; 4. Brattleboro; 5. CVU; 6. St. Johnsbury.
4x400: 1. CVU (Jacobs, Kinsel, Nails, Hill) 4:11.53; 2. St. Johnsbury; 3. Essex; 4. North Country; 5. South Burlington; 6. Mount Anthony.
4x800: 1. Burlington (Rainville, Massey-Bierman, Vivanco, Guillian) 10:00.80; 2. St. Johnsbury; 3. CVU; 4. Essex; 5. MMU; 6. North Country.
High jump: 1. Teresa O'Leary, SB 5-2; 2. Olivia Ortlieb, Bratt; 3. Hannah Neddo, Essex; 4. Taylor Hoar, CVU; 5. Meadow Worthley, MMU; 6. Isabella Bostic, SJ.
Pole vault: 1. Lia Rotti, SJ 9-6; 2. Quincy Massey-Bierman, BHS; T3. Elizabeth Jones, SJ, Erin Noel, Essex; 5. Taylor Hoar, CVU; 6. Sloane Guillian, BHS.
Long jump: 1. Rebecca Crosier, MAU 17-3.25; 2. Jen Rotti, SJ; 3. Hannah Neddo, Essex; 4. Lia Rotti, SJ; 5. Maggie Lonardo, Bratt; 6. Erin Noel, Essex.
Triple jump: 1. Odessa O'Brien, SB 37-7.5; 2. Jen Rotti, SJ 35-8.5; 3. Lia Rotti, SJ; 4. Hannah Neddo, Essex; 5. Diana Gregoire, SB; 6. Hannah Cate, BHS.
Shot put: 1. Anne Potter, NC 34-8; 2. Sadie Bushway, SJ; 3. Kayla Talbot, SJ; 4. Maria Campo, Essex; 5. Abby Rogers, MMU; 6. Lily Bulger, Essex.
Discus: 1. Anne Potter, NC 102; 2. Sadie Bushway, SJ; 3. Kayla Talbot, SJ; 4. Abby Rogeres, MMU; 5. Mikaela Strzempko, SJ; 6. Tullia Managa, Colc.
Javelin: 1. Lia Rotti, SJ 126-6; 2. Neva Bostic, SJ; 3. Abby Rogers, MMU; 4. Emma Tetreault, BFA; 5. Kayla Talbot, SJ; 6. Elana Phlbrick, MMU.