State Open Cross Country: Danbury girls complete triple crown, FCIAC runners star at meet

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 – All five of those finishing surges, every final kick to either outkick another runner or hold off an oncoming runner, and all the accompanying physical pain Danbury’s first five runners had to tough it out with while running up the long hill and into the Wickham Park finishing chute at the CIAC State Open girls cross country championships was most definitely worth it.

It was worth it because those five gutty finishes enabled the Danbury to win the girls’ program’s first State Open championship ever by just one single point.

Lauren Moore placed seventh overall as the second fastest runner from the FCIAC to lead Danbury to that coveted first State Open title as the Hatters scored 116 points to beat runner-up Immaculate (117) by one point.

The place finishes of each runner on teams which fielded full teams were added up to determine team scores. Because runners in the boys and girls races who run as individuals do not factor in the team scoring, it was place positions where the runners on full squads placed relating to the other runners on full teams that were added up for the team scores.

With that scoring format and with two of the leading runners ahead of Moore running as individuals, Moore’s position had her scoring five points for her team and the following four Hatters finished among the top 38 among the girls on full teams in that team scoring format.

Danbury’s Hatters completed a Triple Crown autumn by adding the State Open crown to the FCIAC and Class LL state championships they previously won.

The Staples boys, likewise, previously won conference and Class LL state championships. They placed fourth in the State Open as the top team from the FCIAC.

Kate Wiser, Pomperaug’s superb sophomore, impressively was the girls individual champion. Wiser ran away from her competition in the five-kilometer race with a time of 17 minutes, 59 seconds to win by 59 seconds over New Milford freshman Claire Daniels (18:58).

Greenwich sophomore Mari Noble (18:58) was just one second behind Daniels in third place as the top finisher from the FCIAC.

Moore, a senior, placed seventh overall with a 19:21 as FCIAC runners placed 7-10 within three seconds of each other.

Ridgefield senior Gabriella Viggiano (19:23) and her junior teammate, Tess Pisanelli (19:24) placed eighth and ninth overall, respectively, to lead the Tigers to third place with 160 points.

Alessandra Zaffina, a junior, placed 10th with time of 19:24 to lead Trumbull to fourth place in team scoring with 165 points.

Noble, the Class LL individual champion, led Greenwich to sixth place with 183 points as the FCIAC had four teams among the top six.

The FCIAC also had 11 runners finish among the top 31.

In addition to the aforementioned five girls from the conference, Darien sophomore Mairead Clas (20:02) placed 23rd overall as the sixth fastest runner from the FCIAC.

The other five girls from the conference among the top 31 included Greenwich junior Zoe Harris (24th with a 20:02), Fairfield Ludlowe freshman Jordan Stein (27th, 20:17), Danbury junior Alexandra Chakar (29th, 20:19), Greenwich senior Caroline Webb (30th, 20:20) and Danbury sophomore Daniella Grullonn Pena (31st, 20:22).

What was vital toward the Hatters winning the team title was that their fourth runner Cassandra Sturdevant (20:37) and fifth runner Meilee Kry (20:54) placed 42nd and 53rd overall, respectively. Sturdevant’s scoring placing was 30th while Kry’s was 38th and their combined 68 team scoring points were just two less than the combined 70 scoring points of Immaculate’s fourth (25th) and fifth (45th) runners.

Xavier cruised to the team championship in the boys race as its top four finished among the top 14 overall. Xavier scored 75 points. Hall placed second with 121 points, one point less than Tolland and two points less than fourth-place Staples.

Four FCIAC boys teams finished among the top nine. Also from the FCIAC: Danbury (207) and Ridgefield (227) were sixth and seventh, respectively, and Fairfield Warde (246) placed ninth.

New Milford senior Eli Nahom won the boys 5K race with a 15:54 which was 10 seconds faster than runner-up Gavin Sherry, Conard’s freshman phenom.

New Canaan senior Andrew Malling, the first Rams FCIAC individual champion in 42 years, placed 11th overall with a 16:30 as the fastest runner from the conference, which had 10 runners place among the top 39.

Mayo Smith (16:37) was the second fastest conference runner who led Staples to fourth place.

Those other eight FCIAC runners among the top 39, in order, were: Fairfield Warde’s Dylan Pomer (20th with a 16:38), Morgan Fierro (22nd, 16:42) and Nicholas Taubenheim (23rd, 16:42) of Staples, Danbury’s Jacob Hefele (29th, 16:49) and Malcom Going (32nd, 16:50), Ridgefield’s Charles Coffin (33rd, 16:51), Danbury’s Jack Watson (35th, 16:51) and Warde’s Austin Hutchens (39th, 16:56).

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