NEW HAVEN — The past three seasons, Drew Thompson of Fairfield Prep and Brendan Murray of Cheshire dominated the boys varsity race at the Southern Connecticut Conference cross country championships.
Thompson won it the last three years and set a meet record in 2017 with a time of 15 minutes, 13 seconds. Murray finished second to Thompson all three years.
This season, with Thompson and Murray graduated and off to college, the SCC meet was expected to be a wide open affair. Shelton’s Robert Dillon, who finished behind Thompson and Murray the last three years (third in 2017, fifth in 2016), however felt he was due for a breakthrough win.
And Dillon, despite battling allergies heading into the race, was right.
Running second behind Xavier’s Will Curran most of the 3.1-mile race, Dillon made his move with about a half-mile to go and surged past Curran to take the lead. Dillon held off a fast-closing Curran to come away with the win. Dillon and Curran both officially finished in 16 minutes, 5 seconds, but Dillon was declared the winner by .2 seconds. Peter Schulten of Xavier was third (16:15).
Xavier won the boys varsity race team title for the third straight year. It was their 12th title overall. Shelton was second with 66 points and Wilbur Cross was third with 86.
“It was a tight race with a group of about six or seven runners in the lead pack,” Dillon said. “With about a mile to go Will Curran was leading and I was right behind him. Mentally, at that point I was thinking how I finished behind Thompson and Murray the last two years and I felt I was due. With about a half mile to go I pushed myself and took the lead.
“I knew Will was behind me, but I didn’t know how close he or the other runners were heading to the finish line. He made a late surge but I just kept going as hard as I could. It feels great to get this win. It definitely gives me confidence going into the state meets knowing I can beat some of the best people out there.”
Curran kept Dillon in his sights and thought he could catch him
“When he took the lead he pulled ahead a little but I stayed as close as I could,” Curran said. “With about 15 meters to go I went as hard as I could and I thought I would catch him. It was close but he won. It’s still a good finish for me and it builds momentum going into the state meets.”
Xavier had four finishers in the top 10 to help lead the Falcons to their team title — Curran, Schulten, Dillon Selfors (fourth, 16:18) and Eamon Burke (10th, 16:54).
“Our boys have been working hard and it paid off with another SCC title,” Xavier coach Chris Stonier said. “But we have some work to do to prepare for the state tournament. One thing we will do is work with Will Curran and have him use his late kick better. Overall I am very proud as a coach because our guys took control of the race.
“Our guys don’t think about about individual wins. They’re always thinking about the team and what is good for the team. We had four finish in the top 10 overall. But we also had two freshmen contribute with our fourth Xavier finisher Eamon Burke (10th overall, 16:54) and our sixth Xavier finisher Noah San Vicente (16th overall, 17:17).”
Team results: 1. Xavier 33, 2. Shelton 66, 3. Wilbur Cross 86, 4. Amity 117, 5. Cheshire 172, 6. Guilford 189, 7. Fairfield Prep 196, 8. Hand 204, 9. Hamden 258, 10. Notre Dame-West Haven 272, 11. Sheehan 297, 12. Law 352, 13. Lyman Hall 366, 14. North Haven 411, 15. Branford 420, 16. West Haven 490, 17. Hillhouse 523, 18. Foran 542, 19. East Haven 605.
Individuals: 1. Robert Dillon (Shelton) 16:05, 2. Will Curran (Xavier) 16:05, 3. Peter Schulten (Xavier) 16:15, 4. Dillon Selfors (Xavier) 16:18, 5. Travis Martin (Wilbur Cross) 16:23, 6. Connor Visnic (Amity) 16:25, 7. Brendan Mellitt (Cheshire) 16:26, 8. Edward Tristine (Fairfield Prep) 16:36, 9. Azaan Dawson (Fairfield Prep) 16:43, 10. Eamon Burke (Xavier) 16:54, 11. Mohammed Hussain (Wilbur Cross) 16:55, 12. Tyler Pineau (Shelton) 16:55; 13. Matthew Richard (Shelton) 17:02, 14. Julen Lujambio (Xavier) 17:11, 15. John DeRosa (Shelton) 17:14, 16. Noah San Vicente (Xavier) 17:17, 17. Elliot Faulkner (Wilbur Cross) 17:19, 18. Nassaiah Betancourt (Wilbur Cross) 17:24, 19. Damon Swift (Hamden) 17:27, 20. Dante Zucconi (Hand) 17:27, 21. Elijah Dillon (Guilford) 17:27, 22. Francis Simpatico (Cheshire) 17:28, 23. Alexander Zavatkay (Amity) 17:28, 24. Thomas Minar (Notre Dame-West Haven) 17:41, 25. Matthew Cristiano (Shelton) 17:42.