BETHEL — Pomperaug senior Trey Generali won the JV race as a freshman at the SWC championships, and three years later he found himself as the fastest runner in the conference.
Generali earned the individual title Friday at Bethel High School with a time of 16:39.15, about seven seconds ahead of New Milford’s Robert Harkin (16:46.14). He became the first boy from the school to win the race since 1999.
“It’s such an honor to win the SWC title,” Generali said. “My start wasn’t great and I fell back a tiny bit. I made up some ground and got to the front and pretty much held it. I gradually picked it up; I knew who would be up there with me.”
Generali made it a clean sweep for the Panthers as Kate Wiser won the girls title. The day before the race the pair met with boys coach Mark Goodwin and discussed the importance of mental toughness, and Goodwin sent his runner a story about Xavier standout Robbie Cozean winning the SCC championship the day before.
“This was a breakthrough race for Trey,” Goodwin said. “He’s matured a lot, he had a game plan and laid out the course. He didn’t falter; last year he was sixth and was in a spot where he could have made a move and it didn’t come through. This year he held the lead throughout.”
The Green Wave reasserted their dominance after a two-year hiatus to easily win the team title. Three runners finished in the top seven, including Garred Farrell (17:00.38) in sixth and Jason Golembeski (17:08.26) in seventh. New Milford won with 57 points while Newtown was second with 81.
“I thought we raced great,” said New Milford coach Chris Bacich. “We had some guys step up and our seniors did great to help us get the low score. Those guys did a nice job; getting three guys up there got us off to a good start.”
The Green Wave had a spotless regular season and finished it with the school’s 17th SWC title since 1998. Graduate Eli Nahom, who won the race the previous three years and is now at the University of Tennessee, soon found out his former teammates got the job done.
“Eli was the first person I texted when I got back telling him that we won. It’s nice because we’ve had a history of winning and I think that’s going to happen again. I think this is going to be a new streak for New Milford cross country.”
Harkin pumped his fist in celebration after crossing the line in second, and for good reason. It was the first time he had been the first Green Wave finisher across the line and set a PR by nearly 40 seconds.
“I did not expect to get second,” Harkin said. “That’s almost a 40 second PR right there. I was in the ER about three weeks ago with a (week-long) migraine so to be able to come back and do this to help the team is huge, so that felt great.”
The runner-up Nighthawks were led by Max Bloomquist, who finished eighth in 17:15.86. Will Tainter-Gilbert followed in 12th (17:26.73). Newtown suffered just one loss during the regular season.
“The boys ran well; New Milford deserved it from the beginning of the season.” said Newtown coach Carl Strait. “They were the No. 1 seed; (Bacich) and his boys work very hard.”
Immaculate’s James Sullivan finished third in 16:47.97 while Brookfield’s Jadon Parris was fourth in 16:54.96. New Fairfield sophomore Patrick Gibbons took fifth with 16:57.64.