If it wasn’t for the super-human level of Pomperaug’s Kate Wiser grabbing the attention in recent weeks, the second fastest time from last weekend’s Class meets would be getting more praise.
For Greenwich junior Mari Noble, a second-straight Class LL title in a difficult field meant all smiles after crossing the line. She won her event by almost 30 seconds, ahead of Manchester standout Kate Hedlund.
“Once I got (to about a mile) I knew I was ahead,” Noble said. “I tried to hold the other girls off; I took a few looks behind me even though my coach says never to do that. It was good. … I’m super excited for next week; I know there is going to be some tough competition.”
Noble has captured the Wilton Invite and FCIAC title so far this year, and has won every race that she’s been in so far. She should be in great position to secure the runner-up spot at Friday’s State Open, a place she missed by one second last year. She was edged by New Milford’s Claire Daniels at the finish line.
ONE FOR THE AGES
Connecticut has produced its fair share of stellar distance runners over the years. But the crop at the front this term could provide something unique over this week and next.
Having three runners at the same time – including two sophomores – of this talent level is remarkable. Xavier’s Robbie Cozean, Conard’s Gavin Sherry and Manchester’s Aidan Puffer all own top-10 times since Wickham Park was revamped in 2008. All three of those came last week during the class meets.
A small preview took place in the Class LL race when Sherry edged Puffer by nine seconds. Sherry made his move up the dreaded green monster (hill) and held position.
“I made a massive surge up there,” Sherry said. “I was in so much pain; I love racing hills because I end up pushing what would seem to be too hard.”
Pushing one another Friday could produce a dramatic race. Cozean and Puffer have been eased into the lineup. After breaking to the front of the pack Friday, they will be met at Wickham by a host of other fast runners for the New England championships next week.
“That’s very exciting, Robbie is so gutsy,” said Sherry. “He gives it all in every race and I’m really excited to race him. It’s going to be something.”
Hall entered the weekend the No. 1 girls cross country team in the state, and showed exactly why when it captured a first state title since 1987 on Saturday. The first runner for the Warriors – Katherine Sanderson – finished seventh in 19:32, but her teammates finished 1:03 apart in a remarkable spread to take the team title. Nora Holmes (ninth), Rose Kitz (15th), Mia Healer (22nd) and Natalie Schaumburger (24th) were the point scorers for Hall.
Senior Jenna Zydanowicz, Hall’s No. 1 runner, was the team’s sixth runner Saturday as she fatigued across the finish line in 26th. Most teams would have tumbled down the order. But having six varsity-level runners ensured there was no worry. Last season the Warriors finished sixth in the race; Holmes and Sanderson didn’t run in the event.