Darien girls cross country team takes fourth at State Open
Updated 2:41 pm, Thursday, November 8, 2012
MANCHESTER -- The top cross country runners gathered at Wickham Park on Sunday for the annual State Open championships, and quite a few local athletes drove home with a piece of championship hardware.
In an afternoon that was dominated by teams from the southwestern corner of the state, the New Milford boys and the Ridgefield girls captured their respective team titles.
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The victory was made even sweeter for the New Milford boys because they had finished a close second to Newtown at the South-West Conference championships two weeks ago -- thus ending the Green Wave's 10-year reign as conference champs -- and then finished a close second to Danbury in the Class LL state championships last week.
"I'm just so happy that we won as a team," New Milford captain John Hansell said. "It was a sad day for us to take second at SWCs, and we really stepped it up and pushed hard today."
John Hansell led the Wave, finishing 15th in 16:43. He was followed across the finish line by teammates Ryan Clarke in 19th (16:45), Jay Humphreys in 34th (17:07), Zachary Guptill in 37th (17:09), Hugh Sichel in 69th (17:29), Gregory Hansell in 134th (18:09) and Adam Dengler in 149th (18:31). Xavier was second in the team scoring, followed by Newtown in third, Amity in fourth, Staples in fifth and Simsbury in sixth.
New Milford didn't have a superstar leading the pack, but rather seven individuals who ran as one unit. That's what it takes to win such a competitive cross country meet as this. The top five New Milford runners all finished in one 46-second span.
"It's not the best runner, it's the best team, and we really stayed together as a pack," John Hansell said.
The Ridgefield girls, meanwhile, were fresh off a big victory at the Class LL meet last week. Hergenrother was followed across the finish line by teammates Sarah Guillaume in seventh (19:38), Caroline Carr in 22nd (20:08), Melissa Budicini in 37th (20:34), Jeanne Jacullo in 56th (20:51), Hannah Fleming in 59th (20:54) and Molly Weeks in 100th (21:37). The pack mentality paid off for the Tigers as well, as their top five runners were separated by roughly a minute and a half. Avon finished second in the team scoring, followed by Glastonbury in third, Darien in fourth, Wilton in fifth and Cheshire in sixth.
"We trained really hard this season and we didn't taper until this race," Hergenrother said. "We're really good on the hills, and I knew that, with my place and my teammates places going up the Green Monster (with about a mile to go), we had a good shot."
The boys race featured a dramatic finish, with Wynne holding off Feinstein for the victory. The two seniors had pulled away from the rest of the pack early on and ran together, stride for stride, for much of the race. It was quite similar to l;ast weeks Class LL race, in which Wynne finished first and Feinstein third.
"This week, he was with me almost up to the very end. It was a tough race and a fast pace," Wynne said. "When you have a guy next to you pushing you the entire
way, the pace is going to be fast and you're not going to slack off at all during the race.
"I'm really confident in my kick, so I felt fairly confident going into the last thousand meters," Wynne added.
The top 25 individuals and the top six teams from the both the boys and the girls races qualify for the New England championships, which are scheduled for Saturday in Cumberland, Maine.
Other area boys who qualified for the New Englands as individuals include Christian Alvarado of Fairfield Prep in fourth (16:25), Zach Anderson of New Fairfield in seventh (16:34), Trevor Hopper of Ridgefield in ninth (16:35), Mitchell Russo of Newtown in 14th (16:43), Shae Belenski of Amity in 16th (16:44), Logan Ross of Shepaug in 22nd (16:47), Mickey Kozak of Danbury in 23rd (16:47) and Jacob Mayerson of Brookfield in 24th (16:48).
Other area girls who qualified for the New Englands as individuals include Anne Johnston of Darien in sixth (19:31), Claire Howlett of Westhill in ninth (19:43), Gabrielle Richichi of New Fairfield in 10th (19:45), Carly Schuyler of Immaculate in 15th (19:48), Hannah Debalsi of Staples in 16th (19:49), Brittany Mendelson of Pomperaug in 21st (20:07) and Grace Loh of Darien in 24th (20:12).
STATE OPEN CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Wickham Park, Manchester, 5,000 meters
Team scores: 1. New Milford 112; 2. Xavier 147; 3. Newtown 163; 4. Amity 188; 5. Staples 191; 6. Simsbury 205; 7. Fairfield Prep 217; 8. Danbury 228; 9. Ridgefield 247; 10. Darien 250; 11. Rocky Hill 282; 12. Guilford 304; 13. Weston 313; 14. New Fairfield 327; 15. Haddam-Killingworth 346; 16. Capital Prep 363; 17. Nonnewaug 369; 18. Fairfield Warde 383; 19. E.O. Smith 393; 20. Bolton 426.
Top 25 individuals: 1. Henry Wynne, Staples, 15:49; 2. Jake Feinstein, Newtown, 15:58; 3. Logan Fulton, Barlow, 16:22; 4. Christian Alvarado, Fairfield Prep, 16:25; 5. Dhahran Velvaquez, Capital Prep, 16:27; 6. Kevin Sullivan, Lewis Mills, 16:29; 7. Zach Anderson, New Fairfield, 16:34; 8. John Ducham, Kennedy, 16:34; 9. Trevor Hopper, Ridgefield, 16:35; 10. Joseph Crafa, Rocky Hill, 16:36; 11. Jonah Riolo, Nonnewaug, 16:40; 12. Neal Hulstein, Ellington, 16:42; 13. Quinton Hoey, Watertown, 16:42; 14. Mitchell Russo, Newtown, 16:43; 15. John Hansell, New Milford, 16:43; 16. Shae Belenski, Amity, 16:44; 17. Colin Sauter, Tolland, 16:45; 18. Zachary Williams, Xavier, 16:45; 19. Ryan Clarke, New Milford, 16:45; 20. Gavin Manzi, Farmington, 16:46; 21. Spencer Johnson, Bristol Central, 16:46; 22. Logan Ross, Shepaug, 16:47; 23 Mickey Kozak, Danbury, 16:47; 24. Jacob Mayerson, Brookfield, 16:48; 25. Mitchell Brown, Xavier, 16:48.
Team scores: 1. Ridgefield 83; 2. Avon 149; 3. Glastonbury 160; 4. Darien 217; 5. Wilton 228; 6. Cheshire 241; 7. (tie) Thomaston and Pomperaug 257; 9. Simsbury 274; 10. Conard 275; 11. Tolland 276; 12. Guilford 303; 13. Immaculate 328; 14. New Fairfield 332; 15. Danbury 346; 16. Ellington 372; 17. Plainfield 385; 18. Berlin 390; 19. New Milford 415; 20. Branford 427; 21. Fairfield Warde 455; 22. Griswold 465.
Top 25 individuals: 1. Brianna Lenehan, Norwich Free Academy, 19:09; 2. Chrissy Bendzinski, RHAM, 19:12; 3. Laura Hergenrother, Ridgefield, 19:22; 4. Rachael Rosow, Avon, 19:27; 5. Cameron Chaplen, Thomaston, 19:28; 6. Anne Johnston, Darien, 19:31; 7. Sarah Guillaume, Ridgefield, 19:38; 8. Sabrina Olsen, Thomaston, 19:40; 9. Claire Howlett, Westhill, 19:43; 10. Gabrielle Richichi, New Fairfield, 19:45; 11. Kaleigh Roberts, Mercy, 19:46; 12. Becky Perugini, Thomaston, 19:47; 13. Sara Stokesbury, Avon, 19:47; 14. Courtney Akerley, Tolland, 19:48; 15. Carly Schuyler, Immaculate, 19:48; 16. Hannah Debalsi, Staples, 19:49; 17. Stephanie Deccy, Lewis Mills, 19:53; 18. Samantha Nyser, Bolton, 19:55; 19. Kerri Ruffo, Plainfield, 20:00; 20. Shea Williams, Conard, 20:01; 21. Brittany Mendelson, Pomperaug, 20:07; 22. Caroline Carr, Ridgefield, 20:08; 23. Grace Gothers, East Catholic, 20:09; 24. Grace Loh, Darien, 20:12; 25. MacKenzie Pias, Mercy, 20:13.