WESTPORT — The 2017 FAA Cross Country Championships saw Hopkins School finish second to Brunswick School in the team standings by only one point. Monday, the Hilltoppers left nothing at all to chance.
One by one, the Hilltoppers harriers crossed the finish line right after each other and by the meet’s conclusion, there was no doubt which team would claim the title this season.
Following an undefeated regular season with an impressive performance at Sherwood Island State Park on Monday, Hopkins won the FAA cross country title with a team score of 19 points.
Brunswick, which won the FAA team championship every year since 2011, placed second (82), followed by Masters School (101), Greens Farms Academy (105) and Rye Country Day School (110). King School finished sixth (116), followed by St. Luke’s School (133).
The Hilltoppers, who posted a regular-season record of 18-0, had the four top finishers in Monday’s championship meet, which was originally slated to be held at Waveny Park in New Canaan. Waveny Park wasn’t in condition to hold the meet, due to the recent inclement weather, so the venue was switched to Sherwood Island State Park — a familiar site for most of the squads.
Hopkins junior Nicolas Burtson repeated as the FAA champion. Burtson crossed the finish line Monday in a time of 17 minutes, 20.8 seconds.
“The people setting up the course handled the transition really well,” Burtson said. “It was a little hectic being told we couldn’t run at Waveny, but they took rough conditions and made a pretty good course out of it.”
Winning the FAA title was a long time coming for Hopkins.
“This is my fourth year running at FAAs and every year we finish second to Brunswick, so winning it would be awesome,” Burtson said. “I’m happy with my time, I just came off missing two weeks of running because of my Achilles, so that was a good time.”
David Judd, a Hopkins junior, was the runnerup (17:29.8), followed by teammates Charles Mason (senior, 17:57.8) and Connor Hartigan (18:05.4).
“We’ve dominated every meet, so we went into it just thinking it was just another race and to just focus on running as fast as we can to get momentum for New Englands,” Judd said. “That time was a one-second PR (personal-record) time for me, which is always nice to get. It’s great for our team to be on top, after being very close to winning the past few years.”
Said Mason: “I’m a senior, but this is my first year doing cross country. I did track last year and it was fun, so I decided to do cross country and I’m happy I did. The team has a great vibe.”
Brunswick’s top finisher was junior Kyle Raker, who placed fifth with a time of 18:16.7. Larson Palmgren of Greens Farms Academy finished sixth (18:28.2), Aaron Serianni of Rye Country Day was seventh (18:33.6) and Connor Marrs (Rye Country Day, 18:42.4) was eighth. William Cooper of Hopkins (18:45.5) and Logan Schiciano from Masters (18:52.9) rounded out the top-10.
“Hopkins has a lot of great runners and we have a super small team, so it’s incredible that we finished second with the amount of guys we have on our team,” said Raker, one of the Bruins’ captains. “During the race, I tried to push the pace in the first mile and hang with them and just ran my race. Our goal after this is to keep on working and do the best we can in our next meet (New England Championships).”
Matty Goodman, a junior had an 11th-place finish for Brunswick in 18:57.3.
“I felt like I did the first mile slow and coach (Steve Polikoff) told me to pick up the pace in the second mile,” Goodman said. “I looked for Chris Ramos (teammate) who is usually in front of me and I paced myself with him once I reached the second mile mark. At the 2.6-mile mark I was neck-and-neck with him, then he unfortunately tripped and fell. I felt bad, I wanted to help him.”
Connor Minson of Greens Farms was 13th in 19:05.7, Dean Kaduboski of King was 14th, followed by teammate John Kennedy. Owen Minson placed 16th (GFA) and Ramos of Brunswick finished 18th. Joseph Stauff of Hopkins finished 20th, followed by Billy Bennett of King and Charlie Garland from Brunswick.