THOMASTON >> It was a day of surprises, both good and bad, at the Berkshire League Cross Country Championships Friday afternoon at Thomaston’s Black Rock State Park.
Nonnewaug’s Chiefs won the girls championship with Housatonic right behind them in spite of two dropouts from the Mountaineer top five.
Northwestern won the boys title after Shepaug, the early favorite, showed up with six of its top seven runners suspended for team issues.
Thomaston junior Sammi Breier (20:29.84) was the top finisher in the girls race.
Northwestern’s Peter Bakker (16:47.29) was first over the 3.1-mile course for the boys.
“I was definitely nervous,” Breier said, finishing 35 seconds in front of second-place Hanna Gregory from Nonnewaug.
Breier represents a proud tradition in which Golden Bear girls teams won the past seven league championships before Friday.
Breier led the whole way.
“I think I went out a little too fast,” she laughed.
Breier’s big lead kept Nonnewaug’s Gregory from threatening her in second place in spite of Gregory’s own great run.
“I had six or seven girls in front of me,” she said. “I started moving up a mile-and-a-half into the course. (Breier is) a great runner.”
Behind them, Housatonic’s No. 4 runner, Maggie Sullivan, was already out with a stress fracture. No. 5 Paris Beddingfield dropped out with low blood sugar during the race.
“I’ll take (second place),” Housy coach Letitia Garcia-Tripp smiled.
Boys winner Bakker went undefeated through the dual-meet season, but Terryville’s Conor Levins and Lewis Mills’ Jackson Morrow, last year’s champion, were expected to challenge.
Bakker crossed the line 13 seconds ahead of Levins. Morrow was third in another four seconds.
“I thought I’d trained well,” Bakker, a junior, said. “It’s all in the work you do over the summer.”
Bakker took over the lead a quarter mile onto the course and never trailed again.
Twenty yards behind him, Levins, another junior, had major issues beyond the race itself.
Levins sprained his left ankle last Tuesday. Wrapped tightly Friday, “it felt real floppy,” he said. “I tripped over a couple of roots.”
Nevertheless, his strategy coming in was to stick with Bakker. He did.
Injuries are part of the cross country story, but so are the heroics.
Nonnewaug’s girls ran without No. 5 Iris Stumpf, out with a leg injury. Sophomore Makenzie Lautenschlager, starting the season at No. 7, moved all the way up to a team-fourth Friday.
On the boys side, Northwestern was always prepared to challenge Shepaug, despite a dual-meet loss to the Spartans during the season.
“I felt (the championship) was ours for the taking if we ran well – even with Shepaug at full strength,” Highlander coach Alison Beauchene said.
The Shepaug boys return to the team in time for the state meets October 25, said Coach Tom Scarola. Joe Freeland, the only remaining member of the original top seven Friday, finished 13th.
Berkshire League Cross Country Championships
At Black Rock State Park (3.1 miles)
Girls: 1. Nonnewaug 47; 2. Housatonic 66; 3. Thomaston 75; 4. Lewis Mills 89; 5. Northwestern 122; 6. Wamogo 131; 7. Shepaug 139.
Boys: 1. Northwestern 47; 2. Thomaston 62; 3. Litchfield 81; 4. Lewis Mills 94; 5. Nonnewaug 119; 6. Terryville 153; 7. Shepaug 178; 8. Wamogo 179; 9. Housatonic 263.
Top 15 Individuals
Girls: 1. Sammi Breier, Thomaston, 20:29.84; 2. Hanna Gregory, Nonnewaug, 21:04.83; 3. Charlotte Eberhardt, Thomaston, 21:25.42; 4. Mari Cullerton, Housatonic, 21:25.98; 5. Eve Cullerton, Housatonic, 21:29.94; 6. Bridget Nicholas, Nonnewaug, 21:41.44; 7. Sarah Woodward, Nonnewaug, 21:52.33; 8. Mady Malczynski, Northwestern, 22:05.64; 9. Chelsea Kearns, Housatonic, 22:37.13; 10. Maddy Powell, Lewis Mills, 22:40.53; 11. Evangeline Marecki, Wamogo, 22:40.76; 12. Tia Phon, Shepaug, 22:56.48; 13. Nicole Crockett, Lewis Mills, 23:02.63; 14. Makenzie Lautenschlager, Nonnewaug, 23:08.27; 15. Lauren Bresson, Shepaug, 23:12.60.
Boys: 1. Peter Bakker, Northwestern, 16:47.29; 2. Conor Levins, Terryville, 17:00.57; 3. Jackson Morrow, Lewis Mills, 17:04.84; 4. Gavin Woodward, Northwestern, 17:17.98; 5. Trevor Daigle, Thomaston, 17:29.77; 6. Chaz Hamel, Northwestern, 17:34.66; 7. D.J. Geissinger, Nonnewaug, 17:49.71; 8. Noe Gaudette, Thomaston, 17:50.74; 9. Conor Courtney, Litchfield, 17:55.99; 10. Timothy Forella, Lewis Mills, 18:07.28; 11. Sean Labbe, Northwestern, 18:22.99; 12. Peter Wihbey, Litchfield, 18:24.35; 13. Joe Freeland, Shepaug, 18:32.27; 14. Stephen Scougall, Thomaston, 18:36.24; 15. Antonio Muratori, Litchfield, 18:40.44.