NEW HAVEN — Fairfield Prep cross country runner Drew Thompson and Guilford’s Meredith Bloss were both focused entering their respective boys varsity division and girls varsity division races at the Southern Connecticut Conference meet over the 3.1-mile course at East Shore Park on Thursday.
How focused were they?
Thompson, a two-time Register All-Area boys cross country MVP, led start to finish for his third straight SCC meet win. He did it in dominating style over top challenger Brendan Murray of Cheshire. Thompson won in a SCC meet record 15 minutes, 13 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 15:16 set by Fairfield Prep’s Christian Alvarado in 2013.
Bloss, fifth at the SCC meet a year ago, took the lead the moment the starter’s gun sounded. She continually pulled away, won in 19:17 and beat her nearest competitor by 56 seconds. Liz Brown of Sheehan was second in 20:13.
Murray was close to Thompson about half way into the race. But Thompson pulled away the last 800 meters to win by 23 seconds. For the fourth straight year Murray finished second in the race, this time in 15:36. Robert Dillon of Shelton was third in 15:56. Xavier, which had seven finishers in the top 13 places, won the team title with 33 points. It was the Falcons’ second straight title and 11th SCC title overall.
“I knew I was ready for something big in this race with how well I’ve been running and training,” Thompson said. “I was hoping for a big result and I am super happy with setting a new meet record. I won this before and people talk about you being the favorite in the race. But you still have to show up, you still have to run and you have to beat some very tough runners.”
Murray’s plan was to stay close to Thompson and pull away the last 800 meters.
“As soon as the race started I looked for Thompson and ran behind him because I knew he would be leading and was the one to beat,” Murray said. “My plan was to stay with him and then make a move the last 800 meters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make that move and he did. It was disappointing because he made his move right when I wanted to make a move. I still have the Class LL meet coming and have some time to think about what I need to do for a stronger finish.”
Bloss led a strong Guilford group of runners who ended up winning the team title with 40 points. It was the Indians’ 14th team title. But despite all the team titles, Bloss set a school record as the first girl to win an individual title.
“My goal going into the race was to take an early lead and break 20 minutes,” Bloss said. “I never look behind me in a race, but this time at about the half-way mark I looked back and saw no one there. I just kept running as hard as I could the rest of the way.
“This is a great feeling. The win opens up a lot of doors for me and gives more confidence going into the state meets.”
Brown, a freshman, did her best to stay with Bloss.
“She took the lead right away and I tried to stay with her,” Brown said. “But she just kept pulling away. I’m very happy finishing second in this race.”
Guilford girls cross country coach Jim Ford said Bloss was ready to run a big race.
“Meredith put it all together today, she has been training well,” Ford said. “Her strength is the middle part of the race. When I saw how big a lead she had at that point I figured she had a good chance to win. When it comes to the team title, it’s all about depth. All our girls ran a good race.”
Among the top finishers who led Xavier to the SCC title were Peter Schulten (fourth, 16:09), Owen Curran (fifth, 16:23) and Robbie Cozean (sixth, 16:24).