Danbury girls, Staples boys claim state cross country championships

A crowd of runners at the front of the pack during the FCIAC girls cross country championship race in New Canaan’s Waveny Park on Oct. 18. — Dave Stewart photo

MANCHESTER – The Danbury girls and Staples boys cross country teams each won state Class LL championships this past Friday, Oct. 26, at Wickham Park to add onto the team titles they each won eight days earlier at the 2018 FCIAC Cross Country Championships.

Greenwich sophomore Mari Noble placed first in Friday’s 2018 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Girls Class LL Cross Country Championships with time of 18 minutes, 57 seconds over the five-kilometer course (3.1 miles) to win by two seconds over Danbury senior Lauren Moore.

Moore led the Hatters to the team title as they won it with an excellent, tight five-pack of scorers. The lowest score wins in cross country as the place finishes of each team’s top five finishers are added up for the team score.

Moore was the first of three Hatters in the top 12 while all five of their scoring runners finished among the top 17. It was Danbury’s third Class LL crown, the previous two coming back-to-back in 2001 and ’02.

The FCIAC put forth quite the impressive showing team wise and individual wise in the girls Class LL race.

The FCIAC had four of the top five teams, seven conference teams were among the top 10, the first five individual finishers were conference runners, and the FCIAC had 13 runners among the top 18.

Danbury won with 56 points. Glastonbury placed second with 97 points and was followed by FCIAC teams Ridgefield (120), Greenwich (124) and Trumbull (135).

The three other conference teams in the top 10 were Staples (eighth with 208 points), Fairfield Ludlowe (ninth, 251) and Fairfield Warde (289).

Trumbull junior Alessandra Zaffina was right up front near the leaders as she placed third with a time of 19:02which just just three seconds behind Moore and five seconds behind Noble.

Ridgefield’s Tess Pisanelli (19:16) and Gabriella Viggiano (19:17), placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Viggiano, a senior, won the FCIAC race by a scant 0.43 of a second over Moore. Noble placed third, Pisanelli was fourth and Zaffina fifth at the FCIAC Girls Championships at Waveny Park in New Canaan.

Danbury sophomore Daniella Grullon Pena placed ninth with a 19:45 at the recent state Class LL meet and her junior teammate, Alexandra Chakar, took 12th as that third Hatter among the top 12.

There were six straight FCIAC runners who finished in places 13-18. Tori Greenburg placed 13th with a 20:03 and was followed by Greenwich’s Caroline Webb (20:03), Fairfield Ludlowe’s Lauren O’Neil (20:06), Danbury’s Meilee Kry (20:06) and Cassandra Sturdevant (20:07), and Trumbull’s Margaret Loschiavo, who placed 18th with a 20:07.

Danbury’s sixth runner also placed very high – Sarah Johnson (20:18) in 22nd place. Greenwich’s Zoe Harris was 25th (20:26).

Darien’s excellent freshman Mairead Clas was the highest FCIAC finisher in the girls Class L race as she was fifth with a 19:43. She placed sixth in the FCIAC Championships.

Peyton Gildersleeve (20:44) took 15th to lead Wilton to fourth place in team scoring with 142 points. Sophie Curcio (20:10) was 10th to lead New Canaan to seventh with 159 points.

New Milford freshman Claire Daniels won the race with an 18:56.

E.O. Smith won the Class L team championship with 76 points, just four less than runner-up Guilford.

As for the Staples boys team, the Wreckers won their third consecutive Class LL championship the same way they recently won their third straight FCIAC title – with some solid, tight pack running.

The top three Wreckers finished among the top nine as Mayo Smith and Morgan Fierro placed sixth and seventh, respectively, while Nicholas Taubenheim was ninth.

Smith, who placed sixth at the FCIAC Boys Championships, was the fastest conference runner among all the races with his 5K time of 16:18.

Fierro had a 16:25 and Taubenheim a 16:28. They were fourth and fifth, respectively, at the FCIAC meet.

Henry Hass (27th, 16:43) and Teddy O’Kane (29th, 16:48) clinched the Staples Class LL crown and, for good measure, Andrew Zuckerman placed 30th with a 16:48.

It was the fifth overall Class LL state championship for the Wreckers as they won their first one in 1987 and their second one in ’89 prior to this three-peat. A week earlier Staples won its 13th FCIAC championship.

Staples won with 78 points and runner-up Hall was fairly close behind with 87. Longtime FCIAC power Danbury placed third with 144 points and Shelton (194) took fourth.

Fairfield Warde placed fifth as the third FCIAC team among the top five while fellow conference teams Ridgefield (217) placed ninth, Trumbull (358) was 12th and Fairfield Ludlowe (365) took 13th.

Other than those three Wreckers in the top nine who happened to be the three top finishers from the FCIAC in the boys Class LL race, seven other conference runners were in the top 25.

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Kedar Chavan (16:30) placed 10th and was followed by Danbury’s Malcolm Going (12th, 16:32), Warde’s Dylan Pomer (17th, 16:35), Trumbull’s Chris Lepore (21st, 16:39), Danbury’s Jacob Hefele (22nd, 16:40), Ridgefield’s Charles Coffin (23rd, 16:40) and Danbury’s Jack Watson (25th, 16:43).

New Canaan senior Andrew Malling was highest FCIAC finisher in the boys Class L race as he placed seventh with a 16:34. Malling became New Canaan’s first individual FCIAC champion in 42 years a week earlier.

The previous Ram to win the FCIAC race was all-time great Mike Cotton, who defended his FCIAC title in 1976 before going on to a great collegiate career at Virginia. Cotton holds the oldest UVA men’s outdoor track and field record and the ACC record of 28:55.34 in the 10,000-meter run, which he set on April 17, 1981.

Darien junior Cormac Brown placed 17th in this year’s boys Class L race with a 16:58.

Defending State Open team champion Xavier won the Class L title with 26 points by having its top four runners place 2-5.

New Milford’s Eli Nahom was the boys Class L individual champion with a 15:55 which was the fastest time of all six races. Class LL champ Miller Anderson of Hall had the second fastest time of 15:57.

The two State Open races are schedule for Thursday, Nov. 1, at Wickham Park. The first race is the boys race at 2 p.m., followed by the girls race at 2:45 p.m.

The New England Championships are scheduled for Nov. 10 at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H.

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