ST. ALBANS — The St. Albans Recreation Department and the University of Vermont have teamed up to bring an NCAA league championship competition to Franklin County for the first time.

The America East Cross Country Championships, which this year will have UVM as the host, will be held at Hard’ack Recreation Area on Oct. 28. UVM will also hold an earlier regular-season race at the St. Albans park.

“People who live here know how lucky we are to have this beautiful recreation area right around the corner,” St. Albans Recreation Director Kelly Viens said. “Hosting the meet will be a wonderful opportunity to show visitors this great spot and hopefully attract other events to our community.”

The regional championship will bring an extra element of excitement to the area, and a familiar one — Montgomery’s Elle Purrier will likely return to her home county for one of her final cross country races. The University of New Hampshire senior will be seeking her third America East cross country championship in front of friends and family.

“The decision was not made based on Elle being from Richford, but it is a nice coincidence and we are excited that Elle’s homecoming will generate some local interest in the event,” UVM Associate Athletic Director Ed Hockenbury said.

Purrier a seven-time All American combined in track and cross country, won the America East Cross Country championship in 2014 and 2016, and did not compete in 2015 while taking the season off. In May of 2015, she won two America East track titles when the University of Vermont hosted that event.

Hockenbury said the championship rotates among the America East schools, so UVM only gets a chance to host every eight years or so. He and UVM cross country coach Matthew Belfield were impressed with Hard’ack.

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