MANCHESTER >> Fairfield Prep coach Bob Ford Jr. said he’s never seen any of his runners win the State Open. Positioned throughout the course with a better view and vantage point to coach his runners, Ford misses out on the best part.
The way Friday afternoon’s ending materialized at Wickham Park, Ford will want to see the replay immediately.
Prep’s Christian Alvarado and Ridgefield’s Trevor Hopper ran neck and neck to the finish as Alvarado managed to edge Hopper by a hair. The pair clocked 15 minutes, 31 seconds, with Alvarado’s lean at the end providing the final margin of victor. The recorded time is a new Open record, besting Glastonbury’s Donn Cabral’s time of 15:32 in 2007.
“I’m hoping someone has a nice video of it so I get to see that,” Ford said with a smile.
Said Alvarado: “That was probably the most exciting race and hardest race I’ve ran. I had to give everything I had to win. And I’m just glad I came out on top.”
Alvarado, who has verbally committed to Georgetown, said the plan was to have already dropped Hopper and Darien’s Alex Ostberg by the end of the 3.1-mile course. But that didn’t work out. The race turned into a photo finish as Hopper and Alvarado found themselves alone down the stretch.
“I was extremely tired and Hopper found a way to come back and make it a race those last 200 meters, which was really scary for me,” Alvarado said. “I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ When it comes that close you only have a certain amount of time. I really had to put literally everything I had into it. I think it showed, as I collapsed at the end of the race.”
It was nice finish for Alvarado, who is undefeated this fall. A year ago at the State Open, he was coming off an injury and finished fourth.
“Christian has tremendous closing speed,” Ford said. “He’s very confident at the end he can do the job.”
Alvarado will continue his season next Saturday at the New England Championships in Manchester, N.H., at Derryfield Park.
Ridgefield won the team title with 58 points, Darien was second (109) and Danbury was third (147). Hall, Staples and New Milford rounded out the top six and qualified for New Englands. Cheshire took seventh and Amity, Guilford and Prep went 10, 11, 12.
Individually, the top 25 runners advance to New Englands. Cheshire’s Russell Adam was 22nd (16:42) and Xavier’s John O’Hara took 23rd (16:43).