NEW HAVEN — Competing last season at the Southern Connecticut Conference Cross Country championships at East Shore Park was a learning experience for Ella Bradford of Hamden.
“Last year was my first time on this course and I didn’t know what to expect,” Bradford said. “But I was able to handle the course and I was able to finish second last year. I was happy with that, especially with Meredith Bloss in the race. I didn’t know if I could win this year, but I was hoping it would happen after having that experience from last season.”
Bloss, from Guilford and now graduated, won for the second straight year last season.
This year, despite 30 mile-per-winds throughout the race, the experience paid off for Bradford. She used a strong kick midway through, surged ahead to take the lead at that point and pulled away to win the race in a personal best time of 20 minutes. Lizzie Brown of Sheehan was second in 20:23 and Clara Wiesler of Guilford was third in 20:27.
Wiesler’s finish helped Guilford win its third straight SCC team title with 44 points. Amity was second with 61 points and Cheshire took third with 134.
Running side-by-side with Brown the first mile of the race, Bradford surged ahead with about one and a half miles to go on the 3.1-mile course. Once Bradford took the lead she held onto it and extended the last mile.
“The first mile Lizzie and I ran together,” Bradford said. “I was behind her and then we started running side-by-side. At the halfway mark I decided that was the right time to make a move if I wanted to win. I surged ahead and just kept going as hard as I could.
“The wet conditions from last night’s rain wasn’t a problem. But I was a little nervous with the strong wind going into the race. But overall it really didn’t bother me and I was able to get a new personal best (time). Lizzie and I also ran a close race at the Wickham Invitational. We were fourth and fifth and she was only two seconds behind me.”
Brown said when Bradford surged ahead for the lead she couldn’t catch up to her.
“At first, I went out front but we were neck and neck the first mile and actually stayed together the first half of the race,”Brown said. “I was feeling pretty good but then she just surged ahead and pulled away. We were 1-2 the rest of the way. I didn’t want to go too hard the end of the race and lose the position I had.”
In addition to Wiesler, three other Guilford runners were able to finish in the top 10, which contributed to the Indians’ 16th SCC team title overall.
Olivia Skapczynski was eighth for the Indians in 21:35, Emma Bonz was ninth in 21:36 and Katrina Muhs was 10th in 21:37. The final spot for the team title went to Julia Antony, who was 14th in 21:56.
SCC Championship, girls varsity (at New Haven): Team results – 1. Guilford 44, 2. Amity 61, 3. Cheshire 134, 4. Hand 172, 5. Law 177, 6. Wilbur Cross 199, 7. Mercy 211, 8. Sacred Heart Academy 215, 9. Sheehan 225, 10. Hamden 255, 11. Shelton 267, 12. Foran 279, 13. Branford 282, 14. Lauralton Hall 325.
Individuals: 1. Ella Bradford (Hamden) 20:00, 2. Lizzie Brown (Sheehan) 20:23, 3. Clara Wiesler (Guilford) 20:27, 4. Ariana Garay (Amity) 20:46, 5. Aviva Wyner (Amity) 20:49, 6. Katie Konareski (Law) 21:18, 7. Adriana Franzese (Shelton) 21:30, 8. Olivia Skapczynski (Guilford) 21:35, 9. Emma Bonz (Guilford) 21:36, 10. Katrina Muhs (Guilford) 21:37, 11. Olivia Ferraro (Cheshire) 21:46, 12. Meghan Georgescu (Cheshire) 21:48, 13. Emily Birney (Sacred Heart Academy) 21:52, 14. Julia Antony (Guilford) 21:56, 15. Margo Pederson (Wilbur Cross) 21:59, 16. Rose Wegman (Amity) 21:59, 17. Nell Grant (Amity) 21:59.