No one wants to admit it. But sometimes, you need a little luck to win a state championship. The Avon High girls cross country team had no luck in last week’s Class MM championship meet at Wickham Park in Manchester.
Junior Maddie McHugh, who won the girls varsity seeded race at Wickham Park two weeks earlier by 19 seconds in 19:45, couldn’t finish the Class MM race on the same course. A few days before the state final, McHugh twisted an ankle in practice. But she taped it up and had the early lead in Saturday’s race.
But when McHugh fell over a root on the Wickham Park course, she aggravated the injury and couldn’t finish the race. That left open an opportunity for Branford High, which won its first-ever Class MM championship with a 117-127 victory over New Fairfield. Joel Barlow was third in 153 while Avon was fourth with 158 points.
New Fairfield’s Gabrielle Richichi won the 3.1 mile race in 18:28. Branford had two runners in the top 10 and four in the top 30.
Avon was led by junior Molly Hamel, who finished fifth in 20:12 to earn All-State honors. Sara Stokesbury (20:34) finished 11th, missing out on All-State honors by three spots. But both runners qualified for Friday’s State Open here at Wickham Park.
Avon’s Rachael Rosow finished 29th in 21:43 while Kristen Goldie was 47th in 22:18. Freshman Christina Martin was 66th in 22:53. Hamel, Stokesbury and Goldie each ran faster than they did at the Wickham Invitational. Rosow missed the race.
It was a disappointing ending for the Falcons, who won their third straight NCCC championship a week earlier and had hoped to defend their state title and earn another berth into the State Open. But injuries are part of the game and for Avon, they came at the most challenging part of the season.
In the Class S race, Canton finished fourth behind Immaculate, Bolton and Thomaston. Eliza Chekas was Canton’s top runner in 19th place, finishing in 21:21. Emily Briggs was 21st with a time of 21:34.
Immaculate was far out in front with 36 points, followed by Bolton (95) and Thomaston (108), which qualified for the State Open as a wild card team. Canton had 163 points and its fourth place finish was its best finish since finishing third in 2008.
Canton boys finish third
Three teams were clearly above the rest in the Class SS championship race. Old Lyme outran Haddam-Killingworth, 57-74 to take home its first-ever state championship. Canton was third with 101 points, light years ahead of Somers in fourth place with 211 points.
Old Lyme and HK each had their top five runners among the top 25 finishers in the race. Canton had four runners in the top 25.
The Warriors were led by James Yost, who earned All-State honors with his fifth place finish in 16:57. Twin brother Dean Yost finished second for Canton in 12th place with a time of 17:43. Jacob Whittingslow (18th, 17:56) and William Briggs (25th, 18:11) rounded out the top 25.
The Yost brothers qualified to run in Friday’s State Open championship.
Canton was third for the second straight year. They’ve finished in the top three for the last six consecutive seasons.
Avon finished ninth in Class MM and were led by Collin Pritchard, who took 30th in 18:10. Bryant St. Jean was 42nd in 18:27. It was Avon’s ninth straight year in the top 10 in either Class M or Class MM.