By Jim Bransfield
MIDDLETOWN >> Haddam-Killingworth’s Maddie Brandon won the girls race, Coginchaug Regional’s Christian Alberico won the boys race, East Hampton’s girls team finished first and the Middletown High boys cross-country team finished a strong second to highlight the Blue Dragon Invitational meet held Friday afternoon at Veterans’ Memorial Park.
“Oh, that’s great,” said first-year MHS boys coach Robert Weston when he was informed of his team’s second place finish to Lyme-Old Lyme. “We did really well; better than I expected. My kids each dropped 40 to 50 seconds off their time from a dual meet we ran on this course the other day.”
Lyme-Old Lyme had 50 points while Middletown had 90 points, beating out East Hampton by 14 points.
Middletown had two runners finish in the top 10. Mateo Alvarez was eighth (18:09.54) and Ben Schaff was ninth (18:10).
Alberico finished more than seven seconds ahead of Ross Golebiewski of Lyme-Old Lyme in winning the boys race.
“It was a good race,” said Alberico, who is a junior. “At about the one and a half mile mark, there was a pack of six or seven guys. By the two and half mile mark it was down to four and from there, I knew I had to kick. I did and went from there.”
Brandon, a sophomore, spread-eagled the field, winning by more than 22 seconds over Liz Fengler of Sheehan High of Wallingford.
“I felt pretty good starting off,” said Brandon. “I was running with my chief competitor, but I saw her breath quickening and that’s when I made my move. I gave it all I had and ran past her.”
Brandon, whose team did not score because a team must have at least five runners, finished in a time of 20 minutes, 6.51 seconds to Fengler’s 20 minutes, 28.83 seconds.
The winning East Hampton High girls team finished with 56 points, beating runner-up Old Saybrook which had 90 points. Bethel was third with 136 points.
Other area girls team finishes and point totals were Portland (fifth, 157 points), Cromwell (sixth, 158), Coginchaug (ninth, 254) and Middletown (13th, 307).
“We have a young team,” said MHS girls coach Jenn Price. “I have a small team, too, with only six runners at the varsity level. That’s not a lot of depth to fall back on.
“But our goal was to run better times than we did in a dual meet on this course Tuesday and everybody did that, so mission accomplished.”
In the boys race, the other area finishes and point totals were East Hampton (third, 104), Cromwell (seventh, 198 points), Portland (eighth, 203) and Coginchaug (16th, 397).
There were 15 girls teams and 16 boys teams in the varsity competition, involving teams from Class S through Class LL.