By JOE GONILLO

The first week of winter sports tryouts and practices is in the books. Teams had strong turnouts, and rosters should be pretty much set by the time you read this. If you like snow, ski teams especially, then enjoy. Waiting to get my snowblower back, and I refuse to shovel so if anyone wants to clean out my driveway be my guest! Love seeing Christmas lights, decorations and trees.

Breaking news: the paper sent me to Negril, Jamaica to cover Sunday’s Reggae Marathon. (Thank you editor – and Fantasy Football rival – Ben Chiappinelli for assigning me. No need to tell the bosses.) Runners from all over the world (USA, Caribbean, Europe and Asia) gathered to compete. They happily hit the streets for a 5 a.m. start. Congratulations to the lone Vermonter, our own Alicia Goodkind, who ran the 10k in 1:04.02 and placed 259th out of 1336 runners and impressive 84th of 876 females. Still trying to make contact, but great job! Hope she sees this when she returns home! Speaking of Vt., we should be home by now…sadly.

All-star volleyball teams

Girls’ First team
Essex: Valerie Bessette, Amelia Duffy, Maddie Folsom, Jessie Rose, Rachel Yandow.
Burlington: Meghan Lavoie.
Champlain Valley: Julia Daggett, Olivia Werner.
Mount Mansfield: Beth Syverson, Syrah Wright.
Rice: Abi Jones.
South Burlington: Savana Goslovich, Meika Shuman.

Second team
Essex: Grace Asoera.
Champlain Valley: Mekkena Boyd, Makenzie Detch, Natalie Senior, Rayona Silverman.
Mount Mansfield: Lily Wolf.
Rice: Olivia Holmes.
South Burlington: Kaleigh Plumeau, Kristen Precourt.

Honorable mention
Essex: Lizzie Goodrich.
Champlain Valley: Alli Selwah. Enosburg: Randi Berry.
Mount Mansfield: Kimmy Buzzell.
South Burlington: Aiyana Chastenay, Hunter Delaney.

Boys’ First team
Essex: Liam Chisholm, Michael Duffy, Jacob Gookin, Zach Schmalz.
Burlington: Duy Tran.
Champlain Valley: Noah Allen, Baker Angstman, Jacob Boliba, Ethan Harvey, Alden Randall, Devin Rogers.

Second team
Essex: Jackson Baker, Will Surratt.
Burlington: Jiaming Xia.
Champlain Valley: Liam Freeman, Raz Hansen, Storm Rushford, Cooper Snipes.
Mount Mansfield: Aaron Graning, Luke Walters.

Congrats to all.

Enjoyed the Dallas upset of the Saints, who were the former owners of the NFL’s best record. Here’s a blurb from an ESPN so-called “expert” on his take of the game:

“Thursday night’s have been brutal for me, but I’m giving it one final shot here by taking the Saints to throttle the Cowboys on the road. The Cowboys have improved significantly since the acquisition of Amari Cooper, who has vaulted them to the top of the NFC East, but there’s a difference between beating teams like the Redskins, Falcons, and Eagles and hanging with a Saints team that looks like the best team in football by a decent margin. The Saints have won 10 straight games. They’ve won their past three games by an average margin of 30.7 points. They’re 9-2 against the spread, including 9-0 after Week 2. By DVOA, they’re the third-best team. The Cowboys slot in at 21st by DVOA even after their three-game winning run. Dallas will likely try to keep the ball away from the Saints by featuring Ezekiel Elliott, but once the Saints break away, the Cowboys won’t be able to keep pace with them. The only way I see the Cowboys hanging with the Saints is if they generate a few takeaways, but the Saints have turned the ball over only nine times (tied for the fewest in football). Don’t count on it!”

WRONG! And here’s some salt to help you EAT those words, junior, as Dallas prevailed 13-10.

  Also played my first game of Corn Hole on the beach (while not researching) and on my first-ever throw, I flipped in right in the hole. Helped our team to victory am in running for all-star corn hole squad of the week.

Congrats to Essex High School Senior cross-country and track and field athlete Peter Alden, who moments ago signed his official letter of intent to attend and compete for Siena College next fall! We are all very proud of this incredible accomplishment!

Happy Birthday Mark Bove, Leo Labonte, Mike Smith, Karen Albright, Geralyn Plomitallo, Stef Frey, Marcia Spencer Langdon, Ian Morrison, Jeff Sweet, Lindsey Duval Smith, Jeremy Hammond, ex hurdlers Mariah Neverett and Emily Burke, and Steve Ferreira.