NEW CANAAN — Greenwich High School girls cross country coach Evan Dubin knew his team had the athletes in place to capture what it has chased for years — the FCIAC championship.
“Knowing who we had returning from last year’s successful season, we went into this season knowing we could do well with the goal of winning the FCIAC championship out there,” Dubin said following Wednesday’s FCIAC Girls Cross Country Championships at Waveny Park.
Placing three runners among the top 10 finishers and four in the top 13, the Cardinals claimed their long-awaited title, winning their first FCIAC championship since 1981 with a team score of 47 points. Danbury was the runner-up (54), followed by Trumbull (98).
“We were missing one of our top runners (Genevieve DeWinter) who has been injured all season, but we had enough depth and the other girls stepped up,” said Dubin, whose squad was the runner-up behind Ridgefield last season. “They all came through. I’m so happy and proud to see their hard work pay off.”
Wilton senior Morgan McCormick won the girls individual FCIAC title, winning the 4000-meter race in an impressive time of 13:44.83. She increased her lead during the race’s second mile and crossed the finish line all alone.
“I was nervous coming into it, I know a lot of the girls have been improving this year,” McCormick said. “I was just so excited to get a fast time. When I came out of the woods for the last 600 I wasn’t very tired. I love how this course is in the woods — it makes it a true cross country race.”
McCormick is looking forward to testing her skills at the state competition.
“I have not run a 5K race yet this season, so I’m excited to see my time in it,” McCormick said. “A lot of really fast girls are in the state, so I want to see how I do against them.”
Sophomore Zoe Harris had Greenwich’s best finish, placing fourth in 14:59.82.
“Zoe has been a strong runner ever since she came into the program,” Dubin said. “We had a strategy for her to go out hard.”
Danbury junior Lauren Moore was the race’s runner-up, posting a time of 14:51.80.
“I’m ecstatic with my time,” Moore said. “It was a good course, the finish kind of feels like it goes on forever with the hill, which is challenging. But I’m really happy with my time and I’m so proud of my team. Everyone got a good time.”
Hetty McMillan, a senior, had Greenwich’s second-best finish, placing sixth (15:03.09).
“The last time we won the FCIAC championship was in 1981, so me being a senior and leading this team and this being my last FCIAC race was special,” McMillan said. “Our top four runners made all FCIAC, which is a really big accomplishment.”
Ridgefield junior Gabriella Viggiano was third overall, clocking in at 14:52.23.
“It’s been a hard season, we lost a lot of our top runners from last year, so I knew I had to run well to get the team where we were,” Viggiano said. “Last year was my first year in cross country, so it’s a little harder for me, since I’m more of a mid-distance runner.”
Keegan Simonsen, a Fairfield Ludlowe senior, took fifth in 15:02.14.
“I tried to stick with the pack as long as I could,” Simonsen said. “We went out pretty fast and about eight girls stayed together. Last year I was injured, I didn’t have a cross country season, so I’ve been running with a chip on my shoulder.”
Joining Simonsen in the top 15 were teammates Paige Davis and Lauren O’Neil. Davis was 11th (15:24.93) and O’Neil finished 15th. The top 15 runners made First Team All-FCIAC and those finishing 16-30 made Second Team All-FCIAC.
“The season has gone really well for our team,” Davis said. “We only lost three meets, which is great for our team.”
Said O’Neil: “We have some great new freshmen on our team who really helped us. This was the best we have ever done at FCIACs, so we’re very proud.”
Ludlowe finished fourth in the team standings (101), followed by Ridgefield, Wilton and Fairfield Warde. Alexandra Chakar of Danbury finished seventh (15:05.08), Emily Philippides from Greenwich was eighth (15:14.82), Margaret LoSchiavo placed ninth (15:18.55) and Danbury’s Valerie Fox took 10th (15:24.31).
“It was our goal to get first, so we are all really proud of ourselves,” Philippides said. “It has been our goal for a long time. Today, I had a hard time getting out, but I felt better toward the end and was able to catch up.”
Junior Verna Yin finished 13th for the Cardinals (15:26.82), while teammates Caroline Webb and Catherine Harper were 16th and 18th, respectively.
“They have all been training hard since the summer, so to come out here with a talented field and accomplish this is impressive,” Dubin said.
Juliette Lipson was 17th for Stamford’s top finish.
“People were all over the place and I was constantly just fighting my way forward to stay in the top 20 section,” Lipson said.
Greenwich will go for title No. 2 at the upcoming Class LL finals.
“A lot of LL teams were here today, so we’ll see a lot of friendly faces,” Dubin said. “Hopefully, we’ll give Glastonbury a run for their money.”
FCIAC GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Waveny Park, New Canaan 4000 meters
1. Greenwich 47; 2. Danbury 54; 3. Trumbull 98; 4. Ludlowe 101; 5. Ridgefield 141; 6. Wilton 152; 7. Warde 170; 8. Staples 222; 9. Darien 242; 10. New Canaan 261; 11. Stamford 278; 12. St. Joseph 377
1. Morgan McCormick (Wilton) 13:44.83; 2. Lauren Moore (Danbury) 14:51.80; 3. Gabriella Viggiano (Ridgefield) 14:52.23; 4. Zoe Harris (Greenwich) 14:59.82; 5. Keegan Simonson (Fairfield Ludlowe) 15:02.14; 6. Hetty McMillan (Greenwich) 15:03.09: 7. Alexandra Chakar (Danbury) 15:05.08; 8. Emily Phillipides (Greenwich) 15:14.82; 9. Margaret LoSchiavo (Trumbull) 15:18.55; 10. Valerie Fox (Danbury) 15:24.31; 11. Paige Davis (Fairfield Ludlowe) 15:23.93l; 12. Alessandra Zaffina (Trumbull) 15:25.53; 13. Verna Yin (Greenwich) 15:26.82; 14. Cassandra Sturdevant (Danbury) 15:32.27; 15. Lauren O’Neil (Fairfield Ludlowe) 15:34.38; 16. Caroline Webb (Greenwich) 15:46.28; 17. Juliette Lipson (Stamford) 15:46.86; 18. Catherine Harper (Greenwich) 15:53.00; 19. Abigail Hart (Fairfield Warde) 15:54.93; 20. Keira Grant (Fairfield Warde) 15:55.52; 21. Meilee Kry (Danbury) 15:58.20; 22. Tori Greenberg (Staples) 15:59.40; 23. Ashley Storino (Trumbull) 16:00.16; 24. Clodagh Ryan (Ridgefield) 16:01.75; 25. Madeline Ruggiero (Fairfield Ludlowe) 16:02.82