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Class LL Boys: Amity repeats as team champ as Block, Beaudette lead the way
Entering the season one goal for the Amity boys cross country team, which won the CIAC Class LL team title in 2014, was to win the title again and show the world the Spartans weren’t just one-hit wonders.
Eric van der Els of McMahon won the individual event in 15:52. But Harrison Block and Kyle Beaudette led the Spartans’ group effort as Amity set a school record by taking the team title with 93 points. Staples was second with 106 points and Danbury third with 128.
It’s the first time the Spartans have ever won back-to-back state titles.
“I’m very pleased,” Amity boys cross country coach Bob Orgovan said. “I’ve been coaching for 39 years and we’ve won the title six times but this is the first time we’ve done it back to back. Harrison Block and Kyle Beaudette were the two top guys who led us.
“Any time you get first in this meet it’s great for the program. But this one is special. We thought it would be close with some tough teams and it was.”
Block took seventh in 16:12, Beaudette was ninth in 16:14, Matthew Arovas was 20th in 16:43 and Connor Crane was 26th in 16:59.
“We all put in a lot of hard work for this the past four years,” Block said. “Defending our title was one of our big goals for the season. Amity teams have won titles here and there but we wanted to prove that last year’s team wasn’t a one-hit wonder.
“Now this sets us up for the rest of the season and gives us confidence going into the State Open (Friday at Wickham Park).”
Class LL girls: 3-peat for DeBalsi of Staples
With not a lot left to accomplish in state cross country history, Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi still managed to find a way to accomplish one more thing.
DeBalsi won her third straight Class LL title in 18:14, becoming the first female runner in state in history to win three in a row.
“It’s pretty cool,” DeBalsi said.
Glastonbury repeated as state champions with 74 points, Ridgefield was second (78) and Newtown was third.
“We know it’s tough. Those three team, it’s a matter of who had the best 3-4-4-5 finishers,” Glastonbury heads coach Brian Collins said.
Class L girls: Mercy’s Pias, Selfors make history
It’s become a familiar siting this cross country season, Mercy’s Mackenzie Pias and Bridgid Selfors together on the cross country course.
Saturday morning was no different.
The two led the Class L state race from start to finish, as Pias won her first state title in 19 minutes and four seconds. Selfors was second in 19:21.
“We really just wanted to go out and be strong,” Pias said.
The dynamic duo became the first two runners in program history to finish 1-2 at the state meet.
“The fact that we can run together in all our workouts, practice, we run so much together, it’s really nice to have each other,” Selfors said.
“It’s comforting knowing your teammate is right there with you,” Pias added.
E.O. Smith won the team title with 62 points, while Pomperaug was second (70). Mercy finished in fourth.
Danae Rivers of Wilbur Cross finished in fifth (19:36).
Pias, who won the SCC title last week, was hoping to go under 19 minutes, but is looking forward to next week.
“I think it will take the State Open,” Pias said with a smile.
Class L Boys: Michael Stoker of South Windsor wins
As the runners entered the final 2,000 meters of the 5,000-meter Class L boys cross country championships, a pack of 10 runners broke away challenging for the lead.
With about 300 meters to go, energized by the cheering crowd heading toward the finish line, Michael Stoker of South Windsor kicked it in to high gear and pulled away. From there he cruised to the win in 16:25.
“I went out slow the first mile or so and about halfway 10 of us started pulling away,” Stoker said. “A couple of us tried make a push. But it wasn’t until coming around the final corner and heading up the hill toward the finish line that I surged ahead.
“I was really energized by the cheering crowd and got pumped up with everyone cheering. This feels great after all the hard work I put in and expecially coming back from a stress fracture in my shin (right leg).”
Justin Hoelzl of Wilton finished second in 16:29 and Arnstrong Noonan of Darien was third in 16:39.
The top New Haven area finisher was Michael Deluca of Notre Dame-West Haven in 16th place in 17:15.
Class S Girls: Immaculate wins, Derby runner-up
After an undefeated regular season, first ever NVL title, Derby was looking to add a state title.
The Red Raiders, however, were met by a strong Immaculate squad that claimed the top three spots and finished with five in the top 20 to win the team title with 43 points.
Derby finished runner-up with 73 points.
“I told the girls we’d have to run the best race of our lives and have luck,” Derby head coach Nick DiLuggo said. “They all ran really well, especially our No. 4 runner.”
Derby was led by senior Gabby Prizio’s sixth place finish, as three runners finished in the top 10.
“We ran great,” DiLuggo said. “They were just better.”
It’s the second straight season for the Red Raiders placing second.
“It’s going in the right direction,” DiLuggo said of the program.
Class S Boys: Chris Cassello of Bolton wins
Chris Cassello of Bolton had a game plan entering the CIAC Class S boys cross country championship – find the Shepaug runners and stay with them. After all, several Shepaug runners were strong favorites to win.
Running in the lead pack, with about a 1,000 meters to go, he didn’t see any of the Shepaug runners. Coming out of the woods and heading toward the finish line he decided to kick it into high gear and take off.
He did and he won in 16:57. Ed Wolfe of Shepaug ended up second in 17:01 and Erik Quist of Shepaug was third in 17:02. Shane Henderson of Old Saybrook was fourth in 17:11.
“I was following the Shepaug kids but late in the race I couldn’t find them,” Cassello said. “I waited as long as I could, I didn’t see them when I was coming out of the woods so I decided to go. I just took off and ran hard the last 500 meters.
“I finished third here last year as a sophomore. Winning it ths year is pretty special.”
Class SS Girls: Coginchaug’s Drop goes under 19, wins first state title
Coginchaug senior Sam Drop finished in second place at the Shoreline Conference Championships a week ago to Haddam-Killingworth’s Maddie Brandon. She didn’t allow another runner-up finish Saturday.
Drop was impressive from start to finish as she ran a blistering time of 18:58 to win her first state title.
“I had a plan coming in that I would take it easy the first half until I got to the hill,” Drop said. “Hills are my strength so I pushed it up the hill and keep pushing and (tried) to tire her (Brandon) out.”
Drop ran a person-best time on the Wickham course.
“I wanted to get the state championship, but a PR (personal record) is nice, too,” Drop said.
Class SS boys: Cameron Garrelts wins, leads H-K to another title
Cameron Garrelts knew if he and his teammates ran the way they are capable of running, it would be a special day for the Cougars at the CIAC Class SS boys cross country championships.
It couldn’t have turned out any better for the Cougars.
Garrelts cruised to victory over the 5,000-meter course in 16:25 and Haddam-Killingworth won its second straight team title with 31 points. Teammates Andrew Meredith was third in 16:56, Daniel Schumann was fifth in 17:10, Jonah Spector was ninth in 17:31 and Conor McCabe was 15th in 18:06. Connor Levins of Terryville was second in16:50.
For the first time in school history the Haddam-Killingworth boys and girls both won state titles in the same season. The girls also won the Class SS title.
“The first half mile I didn’t want to take it out too hard,” Garrelts said. “I just wanted to settle in and at that (half-mile) point I took the lead and did my best to run fast the rest of the way. This is an amazing feeling, 16:25 is a good time for me.
“We all ran very, very well and we knew coming in if we did that we would be in good position to win the team title.”
Canton was second in the team competition with 147 points followed by Coginchaug (150 points) and Old Lyme (158).
Peter Schulten of Coginchaug was eighth in 17:30.
Class M Girls: Tolland wins 5th straight title
After a second place finish at the Central Connecticut Conference Championships last week, the Tolland girls’ mindset was to just go out and run.
“What we all said was, ‘Whatever happens, happens,'” Tolland’s Katherine DeLoreto said. “We all want to go for the win, the overall win. Just run our hardest.”
That’s exactly what the Eagles did. Led by a phenomenal race from DeLoreto, who finished in first (18:34), Tolland placed four in the top five and five in the the top seven to score 20 points and win their fifth straight state title.
“I was definitely going for a PR (personal record),” DeLoreto said. “I really like the Wickham course.”
Tolland became the first school to win five straight Class M girls titles since Montville 1978-1983 (six times). That’s the only other one to do it five or more times in Class M.
“We all work so hard, we’re always, always out there,” DeLoreto said. “If you mentally have a good attitude, then you’ll have the race of your life.”
Suffield was second in the team race (111) and Nonnewaug was third.
Class M Boys: James Mas wins second straight championship
Defending champion James Mas of St. Joseph wanted to take it a little easy the first half of the CIAC Class M boys cross country championship. As a result the lead changed several times with Mas up front with Tommy Consalvo of Brookfield and Peter Bakker and Gavin Woodward both from Northwestern.
Mas made his move about two miles into the race and did his best to pull away from the front pack He was cruising the last 500 meters and won easily in 16:13. Consalvo was second in 16:22, Bakker was third in 16:28 and Woodward was fourth in 16:36.
“There was a little back and forth going on early in the race,” Mas said. “But after two miles I just went ahead and stayed there. I tried to extend my lead the rest of the way.
“This is unbelievable, to win this two years in a row. Running is not the main thing at our school. But I’m hoping by winning these championships I’m helping to make people aware of cross country.”
Class MM Girls: Avon wins title, Hillhouse freshman Davis places 4th
Coming into high school, De’Janay Davis didn’t have any expectations of what she could accomplish in her first cross country season.
It’s safe to say the freshman has made a name for herself and more.
Saturday, Davis took it out hard and was able to hang on for a fourth place finish in 20:22.
“I was trying to stay with the leading pack for most of the pack, just to have a decent race,” she said.
Davis, who is the younger sister of 2013 graduate and track and cross country star Kellie Davis of Hillhouse, said her only thought was to run her best; something she plans to do next week at the State Open.
“I didn’t expect to come into high school winning races, but I’m taking after my sister,” she said.
Avon’s Ryley Higgins was the top finisher, winning in 19:57. Avon won the title scoring 62 points to edge out RHAM (73).
Class MM Boys: Ben Siciliano leads Guilford to team title
East Lyme’s Vann Moffett and Guilford’s Ben Siciliano were running side by side at the 1,00o meter mark of the CIAC Class MM cross country championship, surging back and forth for the lead.
With 600 meters to go Moffett decided to make his move. Siciliano didn’t have the late kick he needed to stay with Moffett who won in 16:17 and last year’s champion Patrick Briody of E.O. Smith ended up second in 16:19.
Siciliano ended up third in 16:22 but the benefit of the top three finish is it helped the Indians win their first Class MM team title since 2005.
“We knew we had a chance to win the team title ,” Siciliano said. “At the end of the race we knew we were close with all the guys in good position. It’s great and we worked hard all season.
“We were real close and I tried to stay with Vann Moffett at the end. But I just didn’t have the speed in my legs to keep up. He took off with about 600 meters to go.”
Moffett said the two runners pushed each other hard.
“We were close, Ben and I were just pushing each other at the end,” Moffett said. “I knew I needed separation from him if I was going to win and I decided to make my move with 500 or 600 meters left.”