NEW CANAAN — For the Staples High School boys cross country runners, it’s all about the logo on the front of their shirts.
“We’re so close as a team. And we measure success only from a team standpoint,” Staples senior Ben Seiple said. “Cross country is not an individual sport. It’s all about the team. And we are all committed to keep building on the legacy of Staples boys cross country.”
The Wreckers succeeded in grand style Wednesday as they swept the top three spots to finish with 33 points to capture the FCIAC Boys Cross Country Team Championship.
Racing in hot but not oppressive weather conditions over the picturesque but demanding Waveny Park 3.1 mile course, Staples repeated as champs by holding off a stubborn Warde squad (37 points).
“We were confident coming into the race,” Staples Will Landowne said. “We had four of our top five runners back (2016 FCIAC champ Zakeer Ahmad graduated). We’re very excited about what we can do this 2017 postseason.”
Seiple led the field over the 5,000 meters in 15:27, 17 seconds ahead of runner-up and fellow senior Landowne. Staples senior Christian Myers was third in 15:47. Junior Mayo Smith (13th, 16:27) and sophomore Nicolas Taubenheim (14th, 16:28) completed Staples’ top five scorers.
“It was a very fast opening mile (4:55). That played in my favor,” Seiple said. “When the pace slowed down I knew I was okay. I felt I had the stamina to finish strong.”
Warde gave Staples a giant scare.
Seniors Alex Mocarski (4th, 15:51) and James Maniscalco (5th, 15:59) led the Mustangs. Junior Noah Igram (7th, 16:20), senior Danny Jagoe (9th, 16:23) and sophomore Austin Hutchens (12th, 16:25) completed Warde’s top five scorers.
“I was injured last year and was 28th in last year’s race. So I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Mocarski said. “Staples is always a deep powerhouse squad. This is our best team finish ever in school history. So our future is bright.”
“I felt I ran well,” said Maniscalco, who was 13th in the 2016 race. “At the last hill, I lost touch with the front pack a bit. The weather conditions weren’t nearly as bad as last year. Second place is a great finish for Warde.”
In the team race, Trumbull (109 points) was third just ahead of Danbury (111) and New Canaan (119). Darien (6th, 185), Ludlowe (7th, 190), Ridgefield (8th, 228), Greenwich (9th, 246) and Wilton (292) completed the top ten.
“Staples and Warde really showed their strength. It bodes well for the FCIAC in the upcoming state races,” Danbury coach Rob Murray said. “We have a very young team. For some runners today was their first postseason championship meet. This is a chance for them to reflect and learn about what it takes mentally and physically to succeed in the postseason.”
The day belonged to Staples, which also had the top five finishers in the FCIAC Boys Junior Varsity race Wednesday.
“Our kids are so consistent at the top,” Staples coach Laddie Lawrence said. “We haven’t really had our entire group together due to nagging injuries all season. Our young guys have stepped up and filled in. Give Warde a lot of credit. They are a force to be reckoned with. We’ll see what the state meets bring.”
FCIAC BOYS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP
At Waveny Park, New Canaan, 3.1 miles.
Team Scores: 1, Staples 33 points; 2, Warde 37; 3, Trumbull 109; 4, Danbury 111; 5, New Canaan 119; 6, Darien 185; 7, Ludlowe 190; 8, Ridgefield 228; 9, Greenwich 246; 10, Wilton 292; 11, Westhill 319; 12, (tie) Stamford 387; 12, (tie) Norwalk 387; 14, St. Joseph 415; 15, McMahon 434.
Top 25 Individuals: 1, Ben Seiple (Staples) 15:27.35; 2, Will Landowne (Staples) 15:44.14; 3, Christian Myers (Staples) 15:47.34; 4, Alex Mocarski (Warde) 15:51.47; 5, James Maniscalco (Warde) 15:59.31; 6, Max Koschnitzke (New Canaan) 16:19; 7, Noah Igram (Warde) 16:20; 8, Tyler Rubush (Trumbull) 16:23; 9, Dan Jagoe (Warde) 16:23; 10, Matt Burke (Danbury) 16:25.01; 11, Kabir Chavan (Ludlowe) 16:25.39; 12, Austin Hutchens (Warde) 16:25.80; 13, Mayo Smith (Staples) 16:27; 14, Nicolas Taubenheim (Staples) 16:28.11; 15, Dan Nichols (Danbury) 16:28; 55, 16, Chris Lepore (Trumbull) 16:31; 01, 17, Tyler Wright (Staples) 16:41; 18, Sunil Green (Staples) 16:46; 19, Armando Ulaj (Trumbull) 16:47; 20, Alex Urbahn (New Canaan) 16:54; 21, Conrad Kaplan (Staples) 16:56; 22, Griffin Ott (Darien) 16:59; 23, Andrew Malling (New Canaan) 17:00; 24, Ryan Caldwell (Danbury) 17:01; 25, Danny Sachs (Westhill) 17:05.