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VSSA tabs siblings as athletes of the month for February

The Mount Anthony wrestling program produced a pair VSSA winners for February.
The Mount Anthony wrestling program produced a pair VSSA winners for February.
SHAWN CORROW/ www.coldhollowphoto.com

A pair of siblings from the powerhouse Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling program are believed to be the first siblings to ever garner Vermont Sportswriters and Sportcasters Association athlete of the month awards in the same month.

Zak and Rachel Hale are the VSSA award winners for February.

The group selected Vermont Technical College senior basketball player Kevin Carr as the VSSA Open Division February Athlete of the Month.

The three athletes were chosen in a statewide vote of the VSSA membership after being nominated by an association member, said VSSA president George Commo, in a press release issyed Thursday.

In February, Zak Hale, a Mount Anthony senior, put the finishing touches on one of the most successful wrestling careers Vermont has ever seen. Hale went 16-0 over the month, capping it with the 132-pound state championship, his third straight. On the way to his title at the state meet in St. Johnsbury, Hale won all four matches by pinning his opponent in less than a minute.

On Feb. 11, Hale became just the third Vermonter to hit the 200-win plateau; he finished his career second all-time with 210. He ended the season with a record of 54-3 after the New England tournament on March 3, where he took third, the highest finish of any Vermont competitor.

Meanwhile, his younger sister Rachel Hale, an MAU sophomore, on Feb. 25 accomplished what no other female wrestler in the U.S. has done before — won a second state championship wrestling against boys. She also accomplished the feat in back-to-back years. Hale, who won at 103 pounds last year to be Vermont’s first female champ and only the third ever in the U.S., secured the crown at 106 with a 10-0 win in the championship match. For the month, Hale went 13-2, with one of the losses coming to Kevin Jack of Danbury, Conn., who was the top seed in this year’s New England field.

The fact that Mount Anthony delivered the first pair of siblings believed to be the only ones to win VSSA awards in the same month isn't much a surprise. The program is the most storied athletic team in Vermont and one of the most successful in the nation.

For instance:

  • MAU wrestling has not a lost a meet to a Vermont opponent since 1989, winning 246 consecutive meets.
  • MAU has won 24 straight state titles, one shy of the national record.
  • According to the team's website the Mounties rank in a tie for fifth nationally for all-time state wrestling championships.

Carr also had a landmark February: During the month he became the first men’s basketball player at Vermont Technical College history to reach the 2,000-point mark. He did so in just three seasons and will graduate in the spring. Carr reached the 2,000-point plateau when he scored 28 points on Feb. 12 in VTC’s win over Eastern Maine, which was the top-ranked program in both the Yankee Small College Conference and United States Collegiate Athletic Association. Later in the month he helped VTC beat Eastern Maine again to give VTC its first YSCC title. Car averaged 19.9 points per game his first year at VTC, 23 points last season and at the end of February was averaging 22.4 per game.

Zak Hale outpolled two basketball players, Vergennes Union junior Shep Carter and Rochester sophomore Pavin Parrish; Matt Cuce, a sophomore hockey player at Colchester; and James Fitzhugh, a senior track and field athlete at St. Johnsbury Academy.

Also nominated for the female high school award were Poultney senior basketball player Ali Jones; two hockey players, Northfield freshman Kristen Dukette and Missisquoi Valley junior Katie Campbell; Essex freshman gymnast Kira Tanghe; and Champlain Valley senior Nordic skier Sienna Searles.

The other open division nominees were two men’s basketball players, Castleton State junior Mark Comstock and Middlebury College sophomore Joey Kizel, and St. Michael’s women’s ice hockey player Erin Stevens.

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