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FCIAC claims three state cross country crowns

MANCHESTER – Staples senior Hannah DeBalsi three-peated while Brien McMahon senior Eric van der Els and St. Joseph senior James Mas also won individual races to highlight many strong performances by FCIAC runners and teams at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state class cross country championships on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Wickham Park.

There were no team champions but the Staples boys, Darien boys and Ridgefield girls each placed second in their respective divisions. The FCIAC had three of the top five teams in both the boys and girls Class LL meets.

DeBalsi, arguably the state’s greatest female high school distance runner ever, has now won three consecutive CIAC Class LL individual championships after having placed second in this race as a freshman phenom in 2012.

DeBalsi dominated her competition yet again as she won the race by more than a minute ahead of runner-up Sarah Mawdsley, a senior from Newtown.

DeBalsi covered the 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) course in 18 minutes, 14 seconds while Mawdsley and third-place finisher Gaelyn Kattman each had identical times of 19:17. It was the second straight year DeBalsi had a winning time of 18:14. As a sophomore she won in 17:41.

Susannah Martin, DeBalsi’s junior teammate, placed fourth with a 19:34.

Ridgefield sophomore Julia Hergenrother was the third fastest runner from the FCIAC in the girls Class LL race as she placed eighth with a 19:48.

All the runners who placed among the top eight in their respective classes earned All-State status.

Staples had its top three runners among the top nine as senior Angelee Parmar (17:50) placed ninth.

Glastonbury won the team title with 74 points. Ridgefield was runner-up with 78 points.

The lowest team score wins in cross country as the place positions of the top five scoring runners are added up to accumulate the team score.

Newtown placed third with 83 points, Staples was fourth with 88 and Greenwich tallied 166 points as the third FCIAC team among the top five.

Ridgefield took second with its usual pack running as its top five runners ran within 37 seconds of each other as the fifth Tiger, junior Kelly Bordash, placed 23rd with a 20:25. Also for Ridgefield, junior Ava Kelley (20:01) placed 11th, senior Olivia Gorski (20:09) was 17th and junior Rachel Maue (20:13) took 19th.

Also from the FCIAC, Trumbull junior Katrelynn Romanchick (20:01) placed 12th and Greenwich sophomore Hetty McMillan (20:04) was 13th.

DeBalsi and van der Els both added state Class LL individual championships to the FCIAC individual titles they each won on Oct. 21 at Waveny Park in New Canaan.

In this past Saturday’s CIAC Class LL Boys Cross Country Championships, van der Els won the 5K race in 15:52 to beat Ridgefield senior Gabriel Altopp by five seconds.

Altopp was also runner-up to van der Els in the conference championship race as Altopp was 15 seconds behind van der Els’ winning time of 15:24 at the FCIAC Championships. Last year van der Els placed sixth in the Class LL race with a 16:19.

The FCIAC had two of the top three teams and four teams placed among the top eight in the boys’ Class LL meet.

Amity defended its team title with 93 points, FCIAC runner-up Staples took second with 106 points and FCIAC team champion and last year’s Class LL runner-up Danbury was third with 128 points.

Fairfield Warde was the third FCIAC team among the top five with 186 points and Ridgefield (231) placed eighth.

The FCIAC also had eight runners place among the top 14 in the boys’ Class LL race.

Danbury junior Trevor Reed (16:11) placed sixth overall as the third fastest runner from the FCIAC while the other top conference runners were Warde junior William Brisman (eighth with a time of 16:13), Stamford senior Gilmar Barrios (10th, 16:19), Staples junior Zakeer Ahmad (11th, 16:21), Danbury senior Jack Adamski (13th, 16:22), Ridgefield senior Ian Mickool (14th, 16:22), and Staples seniors Chase Gornbein (19th, 16:40), James Lewis (21st, 16:44) and Ben Foster (23rd, 16:46).

Mas was the individual champion in the CIAC Class M Boys Cross Country Championships as his time of 16:30 was nine seconds faster than runner-up Tommy Consalvo, a senior from Brookfield.

Mas’ senior teammate Nick Zannis was 23rd with a 17:45 to help St. Joseph place 10th with 282 points.

Wilton senior Justin Hoelzl and Darien senior Armstrong Noonan placed second and third, respectively, in the CIAC Class L Boys Cross Country Championships. South Windsor senior Michael Stoker won with a 16:25 to beat Hoelzl by four seconds. Noonan had a 16:38 to lead Darien to second place.

New Milford won the Class L team title with 50 points. Darien had 96, Wilton finished sixth with 219 points and New Canaan was eighth with 228.

Wilton senior Aaron Breene placed seventh with a 16:43 as the third fastest runner from the FCIAC.

The other top runners from the FCIAC in the boys’ Class L race were Darien’s Jack Consolini (13th with a 17:08), James Johnson (21st, 17:25) and Alex Klarer (22nd, 17:27).

Mary Lynch, a senior, placed fourth with a 19:33 to lead Wilton to third place in the CIAC Class L Girls Cross Country Championships. Mercy senior Mackenzie Pias won the race in 19:04.

E.O. Smith won the team title with 62 points. Pomperaug was runner-up with 70, Wilton had 101 and Darien placed sixth with 184 points.

Wilton sophomore Morgan McCormick finished in 13th place with a 20:31.

The other top FCIAC runners in the girls’ Class L race finished in places 22-26. They included Wilton sophomore Elizabeth Lynch (22nd place with a 20:51), Darien sophomore Emilia Callery (23rd, 20:52), Darien senior Sarah Lehan (24th, 20:54), Wilton junior Erika Bonnist (25th, 20:57) and Darien junior Mary Lawren Huffman (26th, 21:03).

The CIAC State Open Cross Country Championships are this Friday, Nov. 6, at Wickham Park in Manchester. The girls’ race begins at 2 p.m. while the boys’ race is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m.

Staples' Hannah DeBalsi, a three-time FCIAC cross country champion, leads a pack of runners through Waveny Park during the league's cross country finals. DeBalsi added her third state crown this past Saturday and will run for the State Open title this week. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi, a three-time FCIAC cross country champion, leads a pack of runners through Waveny Park during the league’s cross country finals. DeBalsi added her third state crown this past Saturday and will run for the State Open title this week. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

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