AVON >> The Avon High girls cross country team continues to test themselves in challenging weekend invitational meets in preparation for the CIAC Class MM meet in October and the State Open championship meet.
The Falcons are 7-0 in dual meets in the NCCC and have been dominant in dual meet races with schools in the league. A week ago, Avon extended its dual meet winning streak to 35 with three victories over Granby, 21-40, Ellington, 19-40 and Enfield, 15-50. Avon had six runners in the top 12. A week earlier, the Falcons had the first 14 runners across the line in a dual meet with Somers and Windsor Locks.
Two weeks ago, Avon competed at the 33rd annual Stratton Brook Invitational in Simsbury in a deep field that included three teams ranked in the top 10 of the state coaches poll – No. 1 Glastonbury, No. 5 Simsbury and No. 7 Conard. The Falcons were seeded second.
And a week ago, the Falcons traveled to Warwick, R.I., to compete in the seventh Ocean State Invitational against top competition from around southern New England.
“This has been good competition for us,” Avon coach Al Dadario said. “There is room for improvement. We’re looking to get prepared.”
At Stratton Brook, the Falcons had three runners in the top 20, led by junior Maddie McHugh, who was seventh in 19:54.70. Molly Hamel was 12th in 20:27.85 and Sara Stokesbury was 17th in 20:37.41.
But Avon was fifth behind Glastonbury (65 points), Staples (76), Simsbury (78) and Conard (109). Ryley Higgins (36th) and Christina Martin (40th) rounded out the top five for the Falcons.
Avon fared a bit better at the Ocean State Invitational, taking second in the Division II race behind Notre Dame from Highnam, Mass., 105 to 120.
McHugh finished fourth in the field of over 150 runners in a time of 19:17.03 while Hamel was 11th in 20:00.76 and Stokesbury was 14th in 20:14.83. Higgins (45, 21:16) and Alex Benedict (52, 21:30) rounded out the top five.
Avon had the second-best combined time among Connecticut teams in the meet. Only Tolland, a Class M school, had a better combined time.
The Falcons, who are ranked No. 5 in the latest top 10 poll, will race in one more invitational meet next week at the Wickham Invitational in Manchester, home course for the CIAC championship meets.
The Avon boys are racing this upgraded schedule as well. Avon is 5-2 in dual meets with losses to Ellington, 19-44 last Wednesday and a three-point loss to Coventry, 27-30 on opening day.
Last week in Granby, Ellington’s Spencer Label caught Avon’s Collin Pritchard by two seconds in the final 100 meters as the Purple Knights beat the Falcons, Enfield and Granby. Avon’s Eric Kirk and James Grant finished ninth and 10th respectively.
The difference against Ellington was that the Purple Knights had six runners finish ahead of Kirk and the remainder of the Falcons.
“The varsity is coming along like I want them to,” Avon coach C.J. Fusco said. “We continue to employ pack running as does Ellington. The difference is that their pack (of runners) is a few seconds faster than ours.
“They’re taking it seriously, they are working the way they are supposed to and they’re improving,” Fusco said.
At the Stratton Brook Invitational, Avon was 10th in the Large Division race led by Pritchard, who took 30th with a time o 18:55.30. Kirk was 39th. At the Ocean State Invitational, the Falcons were 18th out o 27 teams in the Division 2 race. Pritchard led the way in 43rd place with a time o 17:43.50.
Avon will be competing at the NCCC championship meet in a little less than two weeks on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Windsor Locks. The Class MM championship races will be Saturday, Oct. 26 at Wickham Park in Manchester.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Ellington 19, Avon 44; Ellington 15, Enfield 50; Ellington 15, Granby 50; Avon 15, Enfield 50; Avon 15, Granby 50; Granby 19, Enfield 48
Winner: Spencer Label (Ell) 18:00 over 2.8 miles at Granby; 2. Collin Pritchard (A) 18:02, 3. Andrew Olivia (Ell) 18:10, 4. Jordan Dixon (Ell) 18:12, 5. Dave Klaren (Ell) 18:14, 6. Jon Wing (Ell) 18:15, 7. Drew Brennan (Ell) 18:15, 8. Albie Tebbeth (Ell) 18:19, 9. Eric Kirk (A) 18:21, 10. James Grant (A) 18:33
Records: Avon 5-2, Ellington 7-0, Granby 4-5; Enfield 2-6
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Avon 21, Granby 40; Avon 19, Ellington 40; Avon 15, Enfield 50; Granby 27, Ellington 29; Granby 15, Enfield 50; Ellington 15, Enfield 50
Winner: Maddie McHugh (A) 18:52 for 2.8 miles at Granby, 2. Molly Hamel (A) 19:26; 3. Katie Pinson (G) 19:52, 4. Alexa Cipkas (G) 19:54; 5. Sara Stokesbury (A) 20:23, 6. Leah Cawthorn (Ell) 20:25, 7. Katie Lee (Ell) 20:36, 8. Ryley Higgins (A) 21:01, 9. Hannah Fusaro (A) 21:18, 10. Anna Chamberland (Ell) 21:26
Records: Avon 7-0, Granby 7-2, Ellington 4-3, Enfield 2-5