BETHEL — Bridesmaids no more.
After four straight years of claiming the runner-up spot, and six overall since last winning in 2001, the Pomperaug boys cross country team claimed the SWC title Wednesday by the narrowest of margins.
The Panthers finished with 69 points to win the championship, just for ahead of runner-up New Milford. Eric Rosenhein (16:57.56) led Pomperaug by finishing third while teammates Trey Generali (sixth, 17:04.43) and Timothy Monahan (15th, 17:32.21) broke the top 15. All seven Panthers runners finished in the top 40.
“I literally blacked out over the line, everyone did great,” Rosenhein said. “All our guys dropped at least 20 seconds. It feels crazy; the summer training this year was crazy compared to the past years I’ve been on the team.”
Eli Nahom won the individual race in 16:16.7, capturing the title for a third straight October. The senior won the race by close to 30 seconds and became the first to three-peat in over 40 years.
“I felt pretty nervous going in because the past years I knew who I was racing but I didn’t pay as much attention this year,” Nahom said. “I was less focused on it; I ran a good time, I’m happy with it and am looking forward to next week.”
— Ryan Lacey (@RyanLacey11) October 17, 2018
Next week would be the Class L championships at Wickham Park in what should be a stacked field with Xavier jumping down from Class LL.
“Obviously I want to win again,” Nahom said. “It’s probably going to be the most competitive year I’ve had in the class meet with Xavier moving down; it’s going to be really competitive.”
It was a special afternoon for the man whom the Bethel course is named after. Panthers coach Mark Goodwin’s girls team finished second in addition to breaking the drought with the boys.
“It’s also a testament to the kids who for the last four years got second,” Goodwin said. “They kept the enthusiasm and tradition going each year with the kids who are moving up. They were seeing what it takes to get to that level and we’ve been really close so many times.”
The Panthers’ depth played a key factor in claiming the win as New Milford placed three runners in the top 10.
“They knew we had to go out in a bunch because we had to split up Brookfield and New Milford had three really good runners,” Goodwin said. “It was a matter of sqeezing our runners up as much as possible; Eric was on rubber legs and that was the kind of effort it took.”
Brookfield finished third with 88 points while Newtown (101) and Barlow (124) rounded out the top five. Nighthawks junior Nick Jacobs finished second in the race with a time of 16:49.19.
“Second place to Eli is like winning the race,” said Newtown coach Carl Strait. “I’m very happy for Nick and the way the season is going for him and for everybody so far.”
With every spot becoming increasingly important, Rosenhein crossed the line in third place just ahead of New Milford’s Garred Farrell (16:58.67). Brookfield’s Jadon Parris finished fifth with a time of 17:03.67
“I went into the race thinking I needed to get second or third,” Rosenhein said. “I knew I was going to near Nick, I had just raced against him (last Tuesday).”
The class meets are all set to take place next Saturday at Wickham Park.
— Ryan Lacey (@RyanLacey11) October 17, 2018
SWC BOYS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
5k Mark Goodwin Cross Country Course, Bethel High School
Team scores: 1. Pomperaug 69; 2. New Milford 73; 3. Brookfield 88; 4. Newtown 101; 5. Joel Barlow 124; 6. Bethel 143; 7. Immaculate 151; 8. Weston 155; 9. New Fairfield 206; 10. Bunnell 288; 11. Masuk 354; 12. Stratford 365; 13. ND-Fairfield 411; 14. Kolbe Cathedral 445.
Top 25: 1. Eli Nahom (New Milford) 16:16.07; 2. Nick Jacobs (Newtown) 16:49.19; 3. Eric Rosenhein (Pomperaug) 16:57.56; 4. Garred Farrell (New Milford) 16:58.67; 5. Jadon Parris (Brookfield) 17:03.67; 6. Trey Generali (Pomperaug) 17:04.43; 7. Robert Doyle (Bethel) 17:06.30; 8. Maxwell Bloomquiest (Newtown) 17:08.79; 9. Colby Cox (Brookfield) 17:15.36; 10. Jason Golembeski (New Milford) 17:20.26; 11. Patrick Gibbons (New Fairfield) 17:20.65; 12. Ryan Rupprecht (Weston) 17:23.79; 13. Nolan Reilly (Brookfield) 17:25.95; 14. Robert Harkin (New Milford) 17:28.28; 15. Timothy Monahan (Pomperaug) 17:32.21; 16. Justin Halmose (Newtown) 17:32.49; 17. Jeremy Saluzzi (Barlow) 17:35.52; 18. Sam Holst-Grubbe (Pomperaug) 17:36.20; 19. Auguste Smith (Barlow) 17:36.57; 20. Jarold Lambert (New Fairfield) 17:36.97; 21. Evan Gallagher (Bethel) 17:37.43; 22. Drew Mitchell (Immaculate) 17:37.80; 23. Harrison Hauser (Barlow) 17:38.74; 24. Kevin Crowley (Weston) 17:41.49; 25. Daniel Finck (Brookfield) 17:42.54.