WASHINGTON — The Gunnery girls varsity cross country team took first place in the 2019 NEPSTA DIII Cross Country Championships, which were held Nov. 9 at White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield.
A total of 478 runners from independent high schools around New England participated. Girls Varsity placed first among 24 teams. Three runners, Gianna Russillo, a senior from Salisbury; Eujin Shin, a junior from Rochester Hills, Mich.; and Vivian Boucher, a freshman from Watertown, finished in the top 20 varsity girls overall.
Russillo took second place among 148 runners with a time of 19:24. Shin finished fourth with a time of 19:44 and Boucher finished 14th with a time of 20:49. All three were awarded All-New England status and are invited to compete in the 2019 Race of Champions, which was held Nov. 16 at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass.
Teammates Ksenia Korobov, a junior from Woodbury, and MacKenzie Teper, a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., finished six seconds apart, placing 23rd and 24th, respectively, at 21:12 and 21:18.
Ellie McManus, a junior from New Canaan, Connecticut, finished at 23:54 and Yolanda Wang, a junior from Tenafly, New Jersey, at 24:27. Together the team accumulated a score of 65 points, which put them ahead of St. George’s, which came in second with 80 points, and Holderness School, which came in third with 96 points.
“We kind of blew them out of the water,” Russillo said, as she addressed students and faculty at School Meeting on Monday. She thanked head coach Morgen Fisher, who is originally from Morris and ran for Wamago Regional High School for two years, and assistant coaches Richard Martin and Ed Small for running such a successful event and guiding the team through a successful season, and congratulated the boys varsity team on a season well done.
“We were undefeated this year as well. No one beat us all year, so we’re pretty cool,” Russillo said of the girls varsity team. She then presented the trophy to Head of School Peter Becker to great applause as she said, “We are New England Champions.”
“What they’ve accomplished is really amazing and deserves to be celebrated,” said Becker, who was in Litchfield to see the team compete before heading to New Milford to cheer on the Highlanders at Canterbury Day. “You just did an amazing job. Schools don’t win New England championships very often. There is only one by definition per season,” he said.
By way of celebrating the team’s hard work and excellent results from the beginning to the end of the season, he invited the girls varsity team to lead the entire school out of the Meetinghouse on the Green and back to campus at the conclusion of School Meeting.
The race itself was a huge production, co-hosted by The Gunnery and Millbrook, with 24 girls teams and 22 boys teams participating, and as many as seven runners per school for each team. Becker expressed gratitude for the many Gunnery volunteers, both students and adults, who contributed to the success of the daylong event.
Margot Appleton ’21 of Portsmouth Abbey School was the top finisher in the girls varsity race with a time of 16:36. Enock Musyoka ’21 of Lawrence Academy took first place in the boys varsity race with a time of 15:34. Sam Jones ’23 of Pingree School took first in the girls JV race with a time of 21:29. Jack Keller ’20 of Concord Academy placed first in the boys JV race with a time of 17:52.
The Gunnery boys varsity team, represented by Harry Harwood, senior from Woodbury, John Blair, a junior from East Islip, NY, Buckley Huffstetler, a senior from Litchfield, Will Brodhead, a senior from Warren, Josh Novick, a junior from Laurel Hollow, NY, Robin Wright, a sophomore from Goshen, and Sean Hall, a sophomore from New York, NY, came in 14th overall out of 22 schools.
Maks Watton, a sophomore from Chetek, Wisconsin, finished in the top 20 in the boys JV race, placing 16th with a time of 19:22. The boys JV team, also represented by Paul Clement, a sophomore from Morris, Noah Ram, a freshman from Durham, Tim Yu, a sophomore from Shanghai, China, and Patrick Boucher, a freshman from Watertown, came in 10th out of 14 teams overall.