MANCHESTER >> 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 at the CIAC state championships at Wickham Park, 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. Last week at the Southern Connecticut Conference Championships the pair finished first and second.
“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 and advanced to the State Open on Friday via a wildcard spot.
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 the Open.
“I think it will take the State Open,” Pias said with a smile.
Class LL: 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 add one more item to her resume.
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 with a smile, adding she remembered running as a freshman against NFA’s Brianna Lenehan and being in awe.
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.
Staples advanced to the Open by the wildcard spot. DeBalsi, who ran the fastest time of the day by any female, said she felt smooth and relaxed on the course. The reigning Open champ said she is building each race and gearing up to another possible Foot Locker National race.
Class SS: Coginchaug’s Drop goes under 19 for win, H-K claims team crown
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 Class SS 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 5,000-meter course.
“I wanted to get the state championship, but a PR (personal record) is nice, too,” Drop said.
While Drop impressed, it was Haddam-Killingworth that stole the team spotlight. The Cougars edged out Coginchaug, 65-68 to win their first state title since 1986.
“We knew it was going to be a battle with Coginchaug, we didn’t have our best race, it was maybe our worst race all season long, but to our girls credit they still came through even when it wasn’t our best day,” head coach Matt Diglio said.
The Cougars battled through some issues, including No. 1 runner, Brandon, who placed fifth. Diglio said last spring she was diagnosed with a breathing issue, where her throat kind of closes up and she cannot get enough oxygen.
“Today it kind of kicked it, but she battled through,” Diglio said. “This is something they have been shooting for, working toward. It’s a credit to them and the work and miles they put in. They should be excited.”
Class S: 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.
Immaculate’s Angela Saidman won the race in 19:01. Jenna Gasparrini and Danielle Marcone completed the top-three sweep for Immaculate.
“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 (20:20), as three runners finished in the top 10.
“I stayed in the top eight the whole time, so I was in a good spot,” Prizio said.
Derby had four runners in the top 15 as Kley Rodriguez was ninth and Nicole Rizzo was 10th
“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 M: 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.
— Mary Albl (@MaryAlbl) October 31, 2015
“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 Class M 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 MM: 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 in the Class MM race.
“I was trying to stay with the leading pack for most of the race, 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).