GREENWICH — Tuesday marked the final regular season meet of the season for the Greenwich and Darien boys and girls cross country teams and besides the rival angle, adding to the competition’s excitement was the fact that the FCIAC West Region regular season title was at stake.
The Cardinals and Blue Wave each entered Tuesday’s meet at picturesque Greenwich Point undefeated and determined to win their region in what has been a modified season.
Greenwich senior Mari Noble helped keep her team team’s perfect record intact, winning the girls race in a course best time of 17 minutes, 48 seconds. Placing 11 runners among the top 15 finishers, the Cardinals defeated the Blue Wave, finished the season 5-0 and captured the FCIAC West Region regular season title.
“This season has been really special,” said Noble, who won the State Open, Class LL and FCIAC girls cross country titles in 2019. “It was very hard this year, we had no expectations in terms of how many opportunities we were going to have to race. At the same time, we knew we had tremendous potential as a team this year. I’ve been on the team for three years and I think this is the most depth we’ve had in quite a while.”
In the boys race, Darien (5-0) posted a 23-35 win over Greenwich (4-1) to secure the FCIAC West Region regular season title. Greenwich’s and Darien’s boys and girls teams will compete in the FCIAC West Region Championships, along with New Canaan, Stamford and Westhill next Wednesday at Waveny Park.
Lucas Madariaga, a Darien senior, crossed the finish line first in the boys race, clocking in a 16:32.
“I actually raced on this course my freshman year, so I am familiar with this course,” Madariaga said. “I just love it, I always look forward to this race and coming to Tod’s Point. It’s a beautiful day to run today and I always go fast on this course.”
In the girls’ race, Noble was making the final appearance of her sparkling career at Greenwich Point.
“When I finished, I knew it was going to be my last time running this course and the seniors felt the same way,” said Noble one of the Cardinals’ senior captains, who along with the other seniors, was honored on Senior Day. “It’s so hard, this is one of the first courses that I’ve run in high school. I think it’s my ninth or 10th time running this course I know it super well, so it’s special to be able to come out with such an awesome performance from our entire team.”
Senior Grace Collier finished second in the girls race with a time of 18:35, followed by Darien junior Mairead Clas (19:09).
“We all had a lot adrenaline with us and we all knew that Darien was a great team and they have a lot of great competitors,” Collier said. “So we made individual goals and the team goal of course was to hopefully, come out victorious today.”
Collier was highly impressed with her teammates’ efforts.
“We also wanted to win our little individual battles, which everyone did a great job of doing,” Collier said. “We’re all really excited with our performances today and to have each other to share it with.”
On the boys’ side, Cardinals junior Zachary Jelinek was the runner-up (16:44), followed by Evan O’Rourke of the Blue Wave (16:53).
“It’s been an interesting season, it hasn’t been a typical season due to the COVID guidelines, but our team this year is one of the strongest that we’ve ever had,” Jelinek said. “We did not expect them (Darien) to be as fast and to kick as fast as they did. I’m not disappointed in the team at all, I think we gave a great effort and I think we have to think about the next race next Wednesday.”
Junior Luke Riordan had a fourth-place finish for the Blue Wave with a time of 16:55.
“I thought we did really well and we stuck to our plan,” Riordan said. “Some of us did better than we expected. I think the whole team did extraordinarily well. Next week, we are just going to try to keep our workouts good and have a really good race next week with all the teams.”
Juliana Raia (Darien, 19:46), Elizabeth Anderson (Greenwich, 19:48), Julianne Teitler (Darien, 19:49), Esme Daplyn (Greenwich, 19:56), Ana Catarina Gaspar (Greenwich, 20:11), Amelie Daplyn (Greenwich, 20:27) and Avery Johnson (Darien, 20:30) rounded out the top-10 girls finishers.
“The team really brought it today,” Anderson said. “We were hyped for Senior Day and facing Darien, one of our rivals. So I think everyone took it a step up and did their best. I’m happy with our times.”
Added Greenwich coach Evan Dubin, whose team is captained by Noble, Eadoain Clarke, Delaney Roth and Sophia Eberwein: “Our team as a whole has been fantastic this season and part of that has to do with our senior leadership. Given our new world and the COVID parameters that we were given made it different than any other year that we’ve had. Our ability to maintain a degree of normalcy within the team is a big reflection of our captains.”
Ryan Djurkovic (Greenwich, 17:15), Ryan Jones (Darien, 17:24), Albert Carreno (Darien, 17:25), Jack Walsh (Darien, 17:30), Jack Briode (Greenwich, 17:32) rounded out the top-10 boys’ finishers.
“As a coaching staff, we are challenging them,” Darien co-coach Rachid Sofiane said. “We’re expecting more out of the kids in workouts, not just physically, but mentally too. So our kids are coming to races prepared, because they know our practices are much more difficult than any race.”
Added Darien co-coach Tyson Kaczmarek: “We can’t wait to see what our guys can do on the 5-K course at Waveny next week.”
David Levine one of the Cards’ captains believes the team will be primed to contend for the title next week.
“We’re really optimistic about it,” Levine said. “This is one of the best seasons this team has had in many years and we’re all looking forward to next week’s meet. Waveny Park is so much fun to run at and we’re hoping to do big things.”
Said fellow Cardinals captain Ryan Djurkovic: “I couldn’t have asked for more from the team, but we’re definitely looking for redemption next week.”
Noble reflected on the regular season, as she finished her final race at Greenwich Point.
“It’s so special, but at the same time it’s bittersweet,” she said. “We have been able to take advantage of every opportunity we’ve had to race.”