Connecticut was well represented at the Northeast Cross Country Club Championships Saturday in Montgomery, New York, as Gavin Sherry and Kate Wiser both took home individual titles.
“It feels nice to represent the state of Connecticut,” Sherry said by phone. “This state has done so well in cross country and running in general. In the past couple of years, we have produced so many great athletes and it is an honor to be among them.”
All runners ran unaffiliated. The event was not sanctioned by the NFHS or CIAC.
Sherry, a junior, completed the 5K race in 15:13.70 while Wiser was the only runner on the girls’ side to break the 17-minute mark with a time of 16:46.80.
“I was excited with the result. It was a tough race, but it was fun,” Sherry said. “We had nice conditions, after our race that took a turn, but it was a fun course and it was a great experience.”
Both Sherry and Wiser had unsurprisingly dominated their regular seasons, but without being able to compete at a state-wide level, Saturday was their opportunity to test themselves against other elite runners.
“I was pretty excited and happy with the race,” the Notre Dame-bound Wiser said. “It had been so long since I raced really competitive girls like that. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was just feeling really strong. I just put a surge on at around a mile and a half in until the end.”
Nicholas Bendtsen of Wolcott finished third overall and was the second finisher hailing from Connecticut.
The 2019 NVL Champion did not have a chance to defend his title when the tournament was canceled earlier this month and only competed in a handful of dual meets this season.
“This was more of a substitute for bigger meets, it kind of felt like a State Open or Footlocker with a lot of the top Connecticut and New York guys,” Bendtsen said. “I was just so happy to get the opportunity to race and really put things together because we didn’t have many chances to race to begin with.”
Viewing the race as his first postseason meet of the season, Bendtsen finished with in an impressive 15:27.
“My goal was to stay with the pack as long as I could and then focus and run as hard as I could that last mile,” Bendtsen said. “I am definitely happy with my performance, but I know I can do better. I feel like I ran well, but I wasn’t really focused because it was my first big race of the year. I hadn’t really tuned into racing mode yet.”
Callum Sherry and Charles Namiot both broke the 16-minute mark to claim 6th and 11th place as the third and fourth Connecticut finishers.
Boys SCC Champion Eamon Burke of Xavier finished 14th overall in 16:03.10, followed by Newington’s Michael Bohlke’s 16:05.10 finish which was good for 16th overall.
Like Bendtsen, Bohlke took advantage of the opportunity after Newington was unable to participate in conference tournaments.
Bohlke finished 10 seconds ahead of CCC-B Champion Nate DeAngelo (27th) and outpaced the likes of Walker Beverly (33rd) and Justin Cascio (30th).
The Ridgefield boys captured the team title, led by Charles Namiot and Charlie King, who finished 38th overall. Xavier finished fifth overall as a team followed by Avon in ninth.
Considering Kate Wiser broke many of her own course records this season, it was clear she had made a jump forward.
“It is great to finally be able to show the work I have put in this past year,” Wiser said. “This definitely isn’t a true substitute for Footlocker, but I am so happy to have the opportunity to run against these girls. Most of them I would have been running against in Footlocker, so it is great to have something.”
The jump was evident again on Saturday, as she overtook Marianapolis Prep’s Sydney Masciarelli (Massachusetts), who had beaten Wiser at the Footlocker Regionals and Nationals a year ago.
“I was impressed and proud of our state, not just the girls, but the guys too,” Wiser said. “It is pretty cool to have winners on both sides and it is a great showing from our state. We are not just this little state, we have some pretty great runners. I was happy for Chloe, Mari, and definitely Gavin (Sherry).”
Chloe Scrimgeour of Conard finished fourth overall in the girls merged race, finishing in 17:43.70 as the second Connecticut runner to cross the line.
“I was really excited to have some good competition going into it,” Scrimgeour said. “I was happy with my overall place, and it was definitely a different feeling from the meets we did this past fall that were much smaller.”
Scrimegour claimed the CCC-A girls’ title in her first cross country season, and in her first chance to go head to head against the likes of Wiser and Mari Noble, she did not disappoint.
“It is a good feeling be able to get second place out of the Connecticut athletes,” Scrimgeour said. “I was expecting (Kate Wiser and Mari Noble) to have really good times and perform really well. I was happy to be up there with them.”
Scrimgeour sandwiched herself between Wiser and last year’s GameTimeCT girls Cross Country MVP Noble.
“It was cool having all these Connecticut athletes show up and perform well,” Scrimgeour said. “We had both winners from our state and for me, it was cool having Gavin win, which was almost expected, but it was awesome to get Conard’s name out there for our school.”
Noble finished ninth overall as the third Connecticut finisher in 18:07.70, followed by SCC champion Anna Steffen at 14th overall with a time of 18:20.40.
Katherine Sanderson and Nora Holmes finished 24th and 29th overall as the Hall teammates both finished in under 19-minutes.
New Milford’s Maddie Sweeney finished 34th in 19:05.10 after missing the SWC Championships due to a family member testing positive for COVID, forcing her to quarantine.
Sweeney broke out this season after making mental adjustments, which were put to the test Saturday as she finished three seconds ahead of CCC-B Champion Grace Michaud.
Many of the runners who participated will be running again this coming Saturday in the 2020 East Coast Championships in New Jersey, which will be the final race of the season.