MANCHESTER >> What a difference a year makes.
Saturday afternoon at Wickham Park, Wilbur Cross junior Danae Rivers finished in second place in the girls’ seeded championship race at the Wickham Invite in a personal best time of 19 minutes, 42 seconds on the 5,000 meter course.
“I think I actually paced myself very well since last year,” Rivers said. “I kind of went out with the head group, felt what the pace was like, and I’m like, ‘OK, I can do this.’”
Rivers, who’s more known for her running ability on the track than cross country courses, said she feels a lot more comfortable on trails compared to a year ago.
“I think the development area of pacing myself, not going out too fast,” said Rivers of what she’s concentrated on.
On a day that featured a morning rain which made for a muddy course, the top finisher in the girls’ seeded race was Haley Hasty of Rockville (19:14). Samantha Drop of Coginchaug was fourth (20:03), while Hannah Springhorn of Hopkins placed fifth (20:08).
“I was happy with my time, but it was a really sloppy (conditions) course, so my time wasn’t great, but I was happy.”
In the girls’ championship race, which featured some of the faster overall teams, Mercy’s Mackenzie Pias ran a personal best on the course in 19:28 to finish eighth and help lead the Tigers to a seventh-place team finish.
“It was definitely really muddy but wasn’t as bad as I was expecting,” Pias said. “Once I started going, I didn’t really notice it.”
Pias, who ran almost a minute faster than what she ran on this course during the state championships last fall, said it was much faster start and pace. But she was able to settle in and run her race.
“Well, I started off a lot faster than I intended,” Pias said with a smile. “But I kind of just came into my own and once I hit a certain pace I knew I could keep going and I carried it through.”
The overall girls individual champion was Hannah Parker of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy in New Hampshire in a time of 18:56. Coe-Brown was the team winner with 33 points, while Tolland (56) placed second and Glastonbury was third (89).