NEW CANAAN — Mari Noble and the Greenwich girls cross country team ended their season the way they began it — with decisive, eye-opening victories.
Though the conclusion of the Cardinals’ 2020 campaign didn’t come at the State Open or New England championships as in seasons past, they still took part in a postseason meet in the form of the FCIAC West Region championships on Wednesday.
Noble, the defending State Open, Class LL and FCIAC champion, won the 4K (2.4-mile) race on a picturesque autumn day at Waveny Park, registering a time of 14 minutes, 26 seconds. While Noble won the individual title, Greenwich captured the team championship, finishing with a team score of 29 points.
In the FCIAC East Region championships, Trumbull claimed the team title and Anna Keeley of Fairfield Ludlowe was the race’s winner.
The FCIAC Central Region championships had Ridgefield placing first in the team standings and Wilton’s Emily Mrakovcic earning top honors.
The day began with the FCIAC West Region championships, which saw New Canaan place second in the team standings (43 points), followed by Darien (49) and Stamford (120).
Greenwich placed five runners among the top 12, headlined by Noble, who increased her lead as the race went on.
“To be honest, I could have gone faster on this course, I finished with a time of 14:05 last year,” Noble said. “What I tend to do is put everything in perspective. Last year, it was a bigger race with more girls and I think the adrenaline from that and having people on my back contributed to the time last year. All in all, this season was super special and it was all about the team.”
Evan Dubin, Greenwich’s coach, watched with pride as Noble once again crossed the finish line first.
“Mari ran great, I feel bad for her in a sense that she’s so good and it’s hard to run when you’re by yourself always,” Dubin said. “To be out there by herself week after week and to be that dominant shows the true degree of her talent.”
Noble was impressed with how her teammates rose to the important occasion.
“I’m really proud of all these girls and I can’t wait to see what they can do next season,” Noble said. “I love this course. It’s beautiful, big and overall it was a great day to race.”
Darien junior Mairead Clas was the race’s runner-up, placing second in 15:31.
“This is my third FCIAC cross country championship and I raced this course when I was in middle school also, so it’s definitely familiar to me, which is a good thing,” Clas said. “This season’s been a little off for me, I’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries the past six months or so. I wanted to get out there and see what my fitness level is and I’m happy with my performance.”
— Greenwich Time Spts (@GreenwichSports) November 4, 2020
Greenwich senior Grace Collier appeared to be heading toward a second-place finish. However, on the straightaway, Collier’s legs gave out and she collapsed. She got up and tried to continue, but fell down again. Two emergency medical technicians, who were on site, aided Collier, who was transported to Norwalk Hospital for observation. She seemed alert and was talking to her teammates and coaches.
On Wednesday evening, Dubin said that Collier was transferred from Norwalk Hospital to Yale New Haven for further testing and was stable.
Greenwich’s Esme Daplyn finished third in the race (15:41), followed by Darien junior Julianne Teitler (15:54) and New Canaan’s Skylar Bennett (15:59). Elizabeth Anderson (Greenwich, 16:08), Amelie Daplyn (Greenwich, 16:09), Abigail Cheney (New Canaan,16:14), Elizabeth McLaughlin (New Canaan, 16:16) and Kiera Hynes (New Canaan, 16:20) rounded out the top 10 finishers.
“We knew we had to take it up to another level and whatever we were striving for, that we should just keep pushing and pushing,” Esme Daplyn said. “We’ve had such a great season, despite COVID and all the circumstances, we just wanted to go all out (because) this was our last race.”
She said her involvement in the sport stems from her older sister, Amelie, who also turned in her personal-best time by approximately 15 seconds.
“Today’s course was a little different than a couple of weeks ago,” Amelie Daplyn said. “It was more on the field and less time in the woods, which was great.”
KEELEY WINS RACE; TRUMBULL TAKES TITLE
Placing eight runners among the top 15 finishers, Trumbull won the FCIAC East team title with 30 points. Ludlowe was second (47), followed by Fairfield Warde (64).
“Today, we made a plan in the race, because we run against these girls all season,” Trumbull coach Jim McCaffrey said. “We know this course and we ran it like we know it, receiving good performances from a lot of our runners.”
Keeley won the race for Ludlowe with a time of 14:38.
“I feel pretty good, I could have gone faster in the middle, I haven’t run through this course yet, so I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but I’m happy with my time,” said Keeley, a junior. “Over quarantine, I tried to run and see if I could improve and I did and I was happy with my season. I’m used to racing at Wickham, so it’s weird not to race there at all this year, but I love this course and I’m happy to race here.”
— Greenwich Time Spts (@GreenwichSports) November 4, 2020
Kali Holden, a Trumbull junior, finished second in the East Region, registering a time of 15:01.
“Coach said to start fast and get off to a good start, so that’s what I tried to do,” Holden said. “The first mile I was where I wanted to be, I was trying to pace myself with Keeley. The last half-mile, I pushed up the hill and the last straightaway and just went as fast as I could. At the end of a race like this, you’re so tired, but it feels so good.”
Emilia Kozeracki (Warde, junior, 15:37), Calyn Carbone (Trumbull, senior, 15:49) and Evelyn Marchard (Trumbull, junior, 16:03) placed third through fifth.
Jordan Stein (Ludlowe, junior, 16:19), Emily Nolan (Ludlowe, 16:28), Allie Burt (Ludlowe, junior, 16:42), Keira Grant (Trumbull, senior, 16:52) and Brenna Asaro (Trumbull, senior, 16:54) rounded out the top 10.
“It was a harder course than we thought it would be,” Stein said. “We’re used to doing 5Ks, so for that, I think we did well. It’s been a great season for us, even with all the restrictions we’ve had.”
Julietta Siciak (16:57) and Abigail Poplawaski (16:59) were 11th and 12th, respectively for Trumbull.
RIDGEFIELD RUNS TO CENTRAL TITLE
With five athletes finishing in the top 10, Ridgefield took the Central team title (23 points). Wilton was second (44), followed by Staples.
Mrakovcic posted a winning time of 15:00 for Wilton.
“I was really happy about it, I was really nervous and I’m glad I got first place,” Mrakovcic said. “My goal was to stay with Ridgefield and Staples. I was pretty much on track, then I just kept with the pack, stayed calm and when Brien McMahon’s runner started going, I followed her.”
Amanda Graham, a McMahon senior, placed second in 15:04.
“Going into the race, I was just thankful that I was able to race; my school was closed down for two weeks,” Graham said. “During the race my goal was to stay with the top three girls and I stayed in fourth a bit in the woods and I started to move in front. Even though I didn’t win, I’m proud of myself.”
Ridgefield received a third-place finish from junior Katherine Rector (15:10).
“It was really nice to have this at the end of the season; it’s a nostalgic race we get to do and it was really fun getting together with my team in a championship environment,” Rector said. “Everyone came out ready to race and we all finished.”
Sophomore Georgia Keller of Ridgefield took fourth (15:13), followed by Josie Dolan of Staples (15:15).
“I’ve been kind of having breathing problems all season that made me be nervous for races,” Keller said. “So today I wanted to go out hard, but not too hard, so my breathing wouldn’t flare up. I was just trying to stick with Katie, she’s been pulling me through the whole season.”
Rory McGrath (Ridgefield, senior, 15:47), Deirdre Flanagan (Ridgefield, senior, 15:47), Regan McGrath (Ridgefield, sophomore, 16:13), Peyton Gildersleeve (Wilton, senior, 16:16) and Nicole Holmes (Staples, senior, 16:17) placed 6-10, respectively.
“Everyone put up a great time for our team today,” Rector said. “It’s a great ending to our season.”