Local Athletes Earn Capital League Honors

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NEK – Against a loaded field in the vaunted Capital League, local multi-sport athletes Andrew Menard, Meles Gouge, and Cooper Calkins broke through with Honorable Mention selections for their outstanding play on the baseball diamond this past spring.

Menard was a four-year starter on the Hazen Union baseball team, helping the program rise back to state championship contention in 2022-23, earning the top seed in the Division III tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. Menard and the Wildcats made it back to the state title game at Centennial Field in 2022 for the first time in 15 seasons. Following the graduation of a historic senior class last spring that won 29 games over a two-year period, Menard took on a leadership role in his senior campaign. The Wildcat ace opened the season with a no-hitter against Williamstown, while anchoring the middle of the Wildcat lineup. Menard also graduates as a three-year starter and senior captain on the Lyndon Institute boys’ hockey team and qualified for sectionals as a member of the Wildcat golf team.

Danville’s Cooper Calkins was a key cog on a Lyndon Institute baseball team this past season that reached double-digit wins for the fifth consecutive year. The third seeded Vikings were one run away from making the Division II Final Four against a Cinderella Mt. Abe team that made it all the way to the state title game. Calkins also earned Mtn. League honors for a Danville boys’ basketball program that were Division IV state runners-up this past winter. The Bears won 50 games the past three seasons.

Meles Gouge rounded out the Honorable Mention selections after an impressive season for a Montpelier baseball team that matched its highest win total (12) in 57 years, earning the second seed in the Division II state tournament. The versatile senior won three games on the mound for the Solons, was a key bat in a potent lineup, and one of the team leaders in stolen bases. Gouge graduates from Twinfield as one of the best soccer players to come through Peter Stratman’s program, scoring over 60 goals in his career, with multiple Mountain League First Team selections, and three straight VT All-State selections. Gouge also was a three-year starter on the basketball team, earning multiple Mountain League honors.

“Baseball was my farewell sport for me in my high school sports career and I loved every minute of playing for Montpelier this past season. Playing sports was a privilege and I’m grateful for it. Moving around to different teams the last few years was tough because I had to start all over again and earn my spot each time, but I couldn’t have asked for a better year and a better team to play with in my senior year. We achieved a historical record and even though we didn’t make it to the Finals like we hoped, I’m grateful and proud to have been a part of that team,” said Gouge.

Senior Solon teammate Keegan Smith took home Capital League Player of the Year honors and First Team selections included: Xander Oshoniyi (Thetford), Averill Parker and Cam Burke (Spaulding), Chase Fischer (Oxbow), Maddox Heise (U-32), Nate Groff (Montpelier), Wyatt Mason and Ethan Lussier (Lyndon), Tate Parker (North Country), Gabe Gardner (Lake Region), and Harwood’s Matt Fiaschetti.

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