MANCHESTER—The plan for Mari Noble in Friday’s State Open was to keep up with defending champion Kate Wiser as long as possible before mentally settling in a rhythm running alone.
Except that didn’t happen. Noble had a narrow lead after both a mile and two miles, and suddenly the elusive title was in her grasp.
The impossible dream came true for the Greenwich junior, as a 18:13 finish meant her first State Open title. Noble bested Wiser by 10 seconds at Wickham Park.
“I wasn’t thinking about it too much, but I knew the time was going to come where I figured where I’d lose her,” Noble said. “So I was mentally preparing for how I would handle being myself. …I can’t describe this feeling, I didn’t think this was completely possible.”
Noble dropped another 17 seconds from her winning time at the Class LL meet last Saturday. Wiser was coming off a course-record performance in winning in 17:39 in the Class L race.
“I’m so proud of her,” Greenwich coach Evan Dubin said. “There aren’t enough words to describe how happy I am for her; she’s worked so hard. The competition at a meet of this magnitude is the best of the best. My money is on Mari every race; I’m not surprised that she won but I know the world is.”
It’s the first runner-up finish for Wiser in state since her freshman season, a second to Morgan McCormick at the State Open.
“Mari ran hard from the start,” said Pomperaug coach Mark Goodwin. “This might not have been Kate’s day, but it was Mari’s day. Second in Connecticut is good; she will bounce back. … There is probably going to be 10 or 15 Mari Noble’s next week (at New Englands).”
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Manchester’s Kate Hedlund finished third (18:48) while Bethel’s Ava Graham finished fourth. Danbury’s Daniella Grullon-Pena was fifth in 19:07, just edging New Milford’s Claire Daniels with the same time.
Hall girls capped an almost perfect season with the team title, led by Jenna Zydanowicz’s 11th-place finish. The Warriors scored 110 points, ahead of runner-up Simsbury’s 136. Trumbull (155), New Canaan (173) and Danbury (191) made it an FCIAC 3-4-5.
“We’ve worked so hard for this all season,” Zydanowicz said. “Every single one of us worked so well together. This was really a team race and we gave it everything we had. This has been an unbelievable season; this is such a great group of girls.”
Kathryn Rodrigues of Wolcott (19:11, seventh), Amanda Derway of Simsbury was eighth (19:18), Alessandra Trumbull took ninth (19:18) and Mairead Clas (Darien) rounded out the top 10.
Graham hadn’t run in cross country during her freshman season, and was unsure how it would go. But a fourth-place effort Friday capped a stellar effort that included a third at SWCs and a Class M title.
“I’m very happy with the season,” Graham said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming into it; I had some success in track but cross country is so much different. It was a great season, I love the sport and my teammates.”
Graham clocked in at 18:54, within sight of Hedlund for third place.
“I thought maybe I could have pushed it a little harder and gone for third but I’m overall pretty happy with it,” Graham said. “I was ranked sixth based on last week’s (Class) times, so it was fun.”
CIAC GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY STATE OPEN
1. Hall 110, 2. Simsbury 136, 3. Trumbull 155, 4. New Canaan 173, 5. Danbury 191, 6. Glastonbury 193, 7. Ridgefield 207, 8. Wilton 274, 9. Darien 274, 10. Greenwich 278, 11. Immaculate 278, 12. Tolland 303, 13. Fairfield Ludlowe 327, 14. East Lyme 335, 15. Southington 355, 16. Pomperaug 358, 17. E.O. Smith 375, 18. Thomaston 383, 19. Haddam-Killingworth 435, 20. Bethel 456, 21. East Hampton 468.
1. Mari Noble, Greenwich 18:13; 2. Kate Wiser, Pomperaug 18:23; 3. Kate Hedlund, Manchester 18:48; 4. Ava Graham, Bethel 18:54; 5. Daniella Grullon Pena, Danbury 19:07; 6. Claire Daniels, New Milford 19:07; 7. Kathryn Rodrigues, Wolcott 19:11; 8. Amanda Derway, Simsbury 19:18; 9. Alessandra Zaffina, Trumbull 19:18; 10. Mairead Clas, Darien 19:24; 11. Jenna Zydanowicz, Hall 19:25; 12. Kylie Raymond, Somers 19:29; 13. Nora Holmes, Hall 19:36; 14. Tess Pisanelli, Ridgefield 19:36; 15. Julia Caputo, Canton 19:39; 16. Ailene Doherty, Immaculate 19:42; 17. Molly Murphy, New Canaan 19:42; 18. Katherine Sanderson, Hall 19:42; 19. Emily Brydges, Suffield 19:46; 20. Elizabeth Stockman, Rocky Hill 19:48