MADISON >> At the 2014 Southern Connecticut Conference Championships, the Amity girls cross country team lost to Mercy by 25 points.
Flash forward to Thursday afternoon at Hammonsett State Park, where the Spartans finally put everything together.
Led by senior co-captain Melissa Taggart’s fifth-place finish (20 minutes, 10 seconds), Amity scored 82 points to win the program’s first SCC title since 1999.
Cheshire was second (101) and Mercy was third (108).
“Last year was maybe, but this year we were pretty certain it could happen,” Taggart said.
The Spartans, who have placed in the top three 12 times since 1994 at the SCC Championships, relied upon a total team effort to collect the win. Three runners placed in the top 15, including freshman Abigail Bowser’s sixth-place finish (20:12), and five runners finished in the top 30.
“It’s just a good feeling,” Amity head coach Sean Mahon said with grin. “The put it all together today, it was a fun day today.”
While Mercy, the two-time defending champion, captured the top two spots, and Cheshire had a balanced effort with four in the top 25, Amity just focused on running its race.
“We knew that they were going to be two of the top teams,” Mahon said of Mercy and Cheshire. “And like a lot of people say, mental preparation goes into it, and I think we were all on the right page. I think we’re not only physically prepared but mentally prepared.”
Individually, Mercy senior Mackenzie Pias was the star of the day. Pias, the 2014 winner, easily defended her title, and in the process set a new course record of 18:29, three seconds better than last year.
“I went out really hard last year and I wanted to do that again this race,” Pias said. “I just really tried to go out as fast as I could and hold it.”
Pias explained she was nervous coming into the race as the defending champion but was able to settle her nerves on the 5,000 meter course.
“I just knew it was a mental thing at this point, so I just couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” she said.
Teammate and junior Bridgid Selfors captured second place (18:46) finishing nearly 45 seconds faster than last season. Danae Rivers of Cross was third (19:06).
While the Tigers did not win the team crown, Pias wasn’t too disappointed given the adversity and injures the team has battled this fall.
“Third is not what we’ve done the past two years, but Amity and Cheshire did a great job,” she said.
It was the first time since 1995 that the Amity boys and girls won SCC titles in the same season.
“It does say a lot the reputation of the program and the history that it has,” Mahon said. “We’ve put a lot into it and the everyday preparations.”
Final Girls Team Results: 1. Amity Regional, 82; 2. Cheshire, 104; 3. Mercy, 108; 4. Guilford, 121; 5. Daniel Hand, 122; 6. Branford, 131; 7. Wilbur Cross, 217; 8.Shelton, 233; 9. North Haven, 234; 10. Lyman Hall, 254; 11. Hamden, 261; 12. Foran, 265; 13. Lauralton Hall, 285; 14. Sacred Heart Academy, 373; 15. Sheehan, 448; 16. East Haven, 464; 17. Jonathan Law, 475; 18. West Haven, 577