Matthew Jennings and his Haddam-Killingworth teammates continued their tradition of success in the boys Shoreline cross country championships Friday.
Jennings’ 16 minute, 17 second finish was enough for him to capture his second consecutive individual Shoreline title as Haddam-Killingworth boys earned their seventh straight team title.
“This is the second year in a row that Jennings has won,” Haddam-Killingworth boys coach Matt Diglio said. “His sophomore year he was second overall. He is the most talented runner we have had come through the program. I have been here 20 years or so and he is the most talented. He has a great work ethic, a positive attitude and has matured into a leader this past year. I think he is just a cut above the other runners in the conference.”
Haddam-Killingworth junior Caleb Freeman (17:25) was also a key contributor, earning a fifth place finish as the first non-senior runner to cross the finish line.
Though winning has become somewhat of an expectation to Diglio and his team in recent years, the abnormality of this fall inspired a somewhat different outlook on the season.
“This year with everything going on we really just wanted to enjoy every step of the way and anything that got added along was really just a bonus for us,” Diglio said. “To be able to race was fantastic and then being able to win on top of that and continue the tradition that the team has set forth, the kids were really happy. They were really pleased and proud with all the obstacles they had to overcome this year.”
The East Hampton girls team, led by first place finisher Kaylee Gravel, took home its first Shoreline championship since 2012.
“It was a well earned victory for her,” East Hampton coach Bill Wilkie said of Gravel. “She has been working so hard. She’s a junior and it’s her third year. She has worked so hard and like any distance runner, there are good weeks and weeks that aren’t as smooth but she just kept working through them and it was great to see.”
After finishing 13th in the SLC championship as a freshman and fifth-place last year, Gravel edged Haddam-Killingworth sophomore Isabel Berardino by seven seconds for her first individual title on paper, but the two did not race head-to-head.
“Everybody raced one team and we compiled the results, which was incredibly unusual,” Wilkie said. “We were not racing Haddam-Killingworth, the other very strong team in the league. We hadn’t seen them all year and we weren’t racing them in the conference championship either so we were racing ghosts. That’s how our athletes approached it.”
The approach worked for East Hampton, which was paired up against Lyme/Old Lyme.
“Lyme/Old Lyme has a really strong runner (Madeleine Morgado) up front who was the number one runner when we raced them a month ago,” Wilkie said. “We wound up putting three in front of her on Friday so that was a pretty good indication that we had a really strong race.”
East Hampton had three runners finish within the top six with Gravel (21:21) in first, sophomore Savannah Garcia (22:02) in third and junior Jessica Starr (22:20) in fifth.
“We don’t have a single senior on the girls team this year,” Wilkie said. “To be as strong as we are this year without graduating anybody, that is a great scenario to look forward to.”
2020 SLC Boys Cross Country All-Conference
Matthew Jennings – Haddam-Killingworth
Alexandre McMillian – East Hampton
Mark Rodriguez – Cromwell
Mike Zocco- Cromwell
Caleb Freeman – Haddam-Killingworth
Sean Kennedy-Wonneb – Hale Ray
Brendan Owen – East Hampton
Jacob Schneider – Old Saybrook
Michael Kraszewski – Hale Ray
Owen Delisle – Portland
Greyson Merola – Haddam-Killingworth
Jack Wiley – Old Saybrook
Jack Insalaco – Haddam -Killingworth
Jack Dedman – Hale Ray
Aidan Powers – Lyme/Old Lyme
Robert Balda – East Hampton
Nathan Ireland – East Hampton
Joseph Lauria – Hale Ray
Felipe Patinha – Cromwell
Connor Daly – Cromwell
2020 SLC Girls Cross Country All-Conference
Kaylee Gravel – East Hampton
Isabel Berardino – Haddam-Killingworth
Savannah Garcia – East Hampton
Caitlin Wiley – Old Saybrook
Catherine Minegar – Old Saybrook
Jessica Starr – East Hampton
Grace Mikan – Cromwell
Ava DiMatteo – Haddam-Killingworth
Carlina Castro – Old Saybrook
Madeleine Morgado – Lyme/Old Lyme
Kathy Melgar – Haddam-Killingworth
Brianna Minervino – Haddam Killingworth
Juliet Byrne – East Hampton
Sydney Adelberg – Haddam-Killingworth
Annin Daley – East Hampton
Alyssa Spooner – Lyme/Old Lyme
Abby Kelly – Hale Ray
Brylee Montanari – East Hampton
Charlotte Selmer – Haddam-Killingworth
Kayla LaMalfa – Portland