WESTPORT – With Greenwich Academy edging Hopkins School for the league regular-season cross country title, it wasn’t surprising that Monday’s FAA Girls Cross Country Championships came down to a mere two points between the rivals.
Both squads boasted three top-10 finishes, but Hopkins placed a little higher in a few other areas and earned what they attained in 2018 — team championship status.
Hopkins won the team title at the FAA Championships with a team score of 50 points, right behind the Hilltoppers was Greenwich Academy (52 points), followed by Sacred Heart Greenwich (86) at Sherwood Island State Park. Rye Country Day School was fourth (90), followed by Greens Farms Academy (101) and Holy Child (120).
The individual champion was Greenwich Academy’s Maddy Lee. An eighth-grader making her first appearance in the FAA Championships, Lee crossed the finish line first with a time of 19:59.4 in the 3.1-mile race.
“It feels really good, because I have been working a lot this season, the whole team has been working a lot this season,” said Lee, who led the race from practically the outset.
The FAA Championships was originally scheduled to be held at Waveny Park in New Canaan, but for the second straight year it was switched to Sherwood Island. Sunday’s rain caused Waveny’s course to be especially wet and muddy — the same type of scenario that occurred in 2018.
“I liked the course, it was good,” Lee said. “I liked the woods part. There were a few muddy parts, but it was OK.”
Ava Lillis of Sacred Heart, also an eighth-grader, placed second in the race, posting a time of 20:10.3 and Greens Farms Academy junior Caroline McCall took third (20:14.9).
“We were all really close to each other when we are racing and our team did really great at this meet and the whole season,” Lee said.
Lillis’ older sister Grace, won the meet last season, but is sidelined with a leg injury that she is recovering from. Ava Lillis has emerged as the Tigers’ top runner this fall.
“I think it was good that I finished second and I pushed through,” Lillis said. “There were a bunch of puddles, but I just went around them.”
Lillis has indeed, made her mark in her first season on the squad.
“It’s really fun, everyone on the team is so amazing and to compete in races against high school kids and do well is exciting.”
Hopkins’ top finisher was sophomore Nana Dondorful-Amos, who placed sixth in 21:30.0. Teammates Suthi Navaratnam-Tomayko and Ava Maccaro were sixth and eighth, respectively for Hopkins.
“I was pleased with our performance, we don’t have any superstars, but our pack is pretty tight,” Hopkins coach Miguel Pizarro said. “One through five, they run pretty close together, so we were hoping to get our fourth and fifth runners in fast enough. It worked out well.”
Said Navaratnam-Tomayko, a sophomore: “We pushed each other to the finish and did well. It was a nice course, I didn’t run cross country last year, so it’s been a lot of fun this season.”
Maccaro posted her personal-best time for the Hilltoppers.
“Getting my personal-record time was pretty cool,” said Maccaro, an eighth-grader. “I know this course, so I paced myself better. My teammates really inspired me and pushed me.”
Greenwich Academy sophomore Emily Greenhaw was fourth in her first appearance at the meet, clocking in at 20:50.7.
“We had already run here, so we knew what to expect today,” Greenhaw said. “It was a good course, a fun course and even though we may have been nervous, we all ran well.”
In fifth place was junior co-captain Elena Tan of GA (21:03).
“Our strategy was to go out hard and stay out in front for as long as we could,” Tan said. “The three of us all pushed each other in a pack as well as we could. We pulled each other to the front.”
Changing courses didn’t bother the teams competing in the meet Tan said.
“We received a last-minute text we got from our coach about changing courses,” she said. “We were kind of set in terms of mindset about Waveny, but I think we have run here so many times, we knew the course well and stayed confident. We had the same plan, just on a different course.”
Georgia Palmgren was 10th overall for Greens Farms (21:40) and teammate Grace Horton placed 11th (21:44.6).
“Everyone who ran today for our team put in a good effort,” McCall said. “We were down two girls — one was sick and one is injured — so we are happy with what we accomplished today. I’m glad I was able to keep pace with Ava (Lillis).”
The top-10 finishers were presented with All-FAA Team honors. Those placing 11th-20th on Monday earned All-FAA Honorable Mention accolades.
Ingrid Slattery (12th) and Kaitlin Forman (15th) earned Honorable Mention honors for Hopkins. Emily Goodman (16th) was an Honorable Mention recipient for Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart’s Jackie Monahan (18th) and Cecilia Duncan (20th) were Honorable Mention runners.
“There was a lot of cheering and spirit at this meet, which was nice,” Monahan said. “I felt good about the race, I enjoyed when we were running in the woods a lot.”
Said Sacred Heart coach Suzanne Myette: “We are thrilled that we came in third, considering the injuries and adversity we faced. We were third overall in the standings during the season and finished third in this championship meet, which are great accomplishments.”
— Greenwich Time Spts (@GreenwichSports) October 28, 2019
“Our team showed a lot of heart, we knew it was going to be tough to take down Hopkins in an invitational-style meet,” Greenwich Academy coach Jane Finch said. “Maddy (Lee) as an eighth-grader showed poise and confidence and Greenhaw just always rises up to the challenge. Our steadfast, solid, day-in, day out runner for three years now has been Elena Tan, our captain along with Sydney Pittignano. Elena has such heart. She has been the backbone to our group and Sydney helps bring our team together with her maturity.”
RESULTS – TOP 30
1. Maddy Lee (Greenwich Academy) 19:59.4; 2. Ava Lillis (Sacred Heart) 20:10.3; 3. Caroline McCall (Greens Farms Academy) 20:14.9; 4. Emily Greenhaw (Greenwich Academy 20:50.7; 5. Elena Tan (Greenwich Academy) 21:03.0; 6. Nana Dondoroful-Amos (Hopkins) 21:30.0; 7. Isabel Slippen (Rye Country Day) 21:32.6; 8. Suthi Navaratnam-Tomayko (Hopkins) 21:35.8; 9. Ava Maccaro (Hopkins) 21:37.9; 10. Palmgren Georgia (Greens Farms Academy) 21:40.5; 11. Grace Horton (Greens Farms Academy) 21:44.6; 12. Ingrid Slattery (Hopkins) 22:17.6; 13. Hannah O’Shea (Holy Child) 22:31.4; 14. Lindsey Mulvoy (Holy Child) 22:33.0; 15. Kaitlin Forman (Hopkins) 22:42.5; 16. Emily Goodman (Greenwich Academy) 22:53.6; 17. Olivia Nash (Rye Country Day) 22:54.1; 18. Jackie Monahan (Sacred Heart) 23:06.5; 19. Maya Kini (Rye Country Day) 23:13.7; 20. Cecilia Duncan (Sacred Heart) 23:17.0; 21. Olivia Berkery (Sacred Heart) 23:28.1; 22. Elena Brennan (Hopkins) 23:46.0; 23. Arly Rodriguez (Rye Country Day) 23:48.7; 24. Kyra Riedel (Rye Country Day) 23:56.7; 25. Elisa Howard (Sacred Heart) 23:58.2; 26. Clea Ramos (Greenwich Academy) 24:01.7; 27. Elizabeth Murray (Sacred Heart) 24:11.2; 28. Christine Jansen (King) 24:12.7; 29. Anne Semprevivo (Holy Child) 24:18.2; 30. Delia O’Lunney (Holy Child) 24:19.9