18 FCIAC runners earn All-State cross country honors

There were 10 girls and eight boys from the FCIAC who earned all-state recognition from either or both of the two organizations which selected all-state cross country teams for the 2020 fall high school season.

Greenwich senior Mari Noble, Fairfield Ludlowe junior Anna Keeley and Wilton junior Emily Mrakovcic were the three FCIAC girls selected to the 12-runner GameTimeCT All-State Girls Cross Country First Team and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State Girls Cross Country Team.

Westhill senior Colin McLaughlin and Ridgefield seniors Charlie King and Charles Namiot.were the three conference runners who made the 2020 GameTimeCT All-State Boys Cross Country First Team and the CHSCA All-State Boys Cross Country Team.

Because of the abnormality of this season in which there were no state class championship meets or State Open championship meets, the CHSCA utilized a format in which the runners were designated as all-state runners within their own specific conference. The CHSCA selected 83 female runners and 87 boys from nine conferences statewide as all-state runners.

GameTimeCT had 44 girls and 44 boys earn some form of all-state recognition. There were 12 on the all-state first team, 12 more on the all-state second team and another 20 all-state honorable mention runners on each of the respective girls and boys teams.

Noble ended a fabulous high school cross country career and will pursue her running careeer as an Ivy League student-athlete at Princeton. Last year she was the individual champion at the FCIAC Championships and two state championship meets and then the runner-up at the 2019 New England Championships.

This year the FCIAC hosted six regional championship meets on Nov. 4 at New Canaan’s Waveny Park – three meets each for the girls and boys – with no more than 50 runners per race, proper social distancing protocols in place and no fans allowed.

Noble won the FCIAC West Region four-kilometer (4,000 meters) race with a time of 14:25.1 which was the fastest girls time of the day by 12 seconds.

Noble won the 2019 FCIAC race by 29 seconds with her time of 14:05. Noble then followed that up by winning the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class LL 5K race by 28 seconds with her 18:30 clocking and the next week she won the State Open (18:13) by 10 seconds over Pomperaug’s Kate Wiser. Noble and Wiser were both juniors last year and this year Wiser was named the state’s Runner of the Year by GameTimeCT. Noble won that award last year.

Keeley won the FCIAC East Region girls race with a 14:37.4 which was the second fastest girls time of the day and a big improvement of 50 seconds from the previous year when she placed 15th to earn a spot on the 2019 All-FCIAC Girls Cross Country First Team.

All three of the conference’s representatives on the GameTimeCT all-state girls first team were regional champions as Mrakovcic won the FCIAC Central Region race with a 14:49.3 which was the day’s third fastest time after Noble and Keeley. Mrakovcic earned All-FCIAC honors for the second straight year.

The FCIAC made up one third of the GameTimeCT all-state girls second team selections with four runners – Trumbull junior Kali Holden, Brien McMahon senior Amanda Graham, Ridgefield junior Katherine Rector, and Darien junior Mairead Clas.

Holden was runner-up (15:00.1) to Keeley while leading Trumbull to the FCIAC East Region team championship. Graham (15:03.6) and Rector (15:09.6) placed second and third, respectively, in the FCIAC Central Region race. Clas (15:30.5) was runner-up to Noble in the FCIAC West Region meet.

The three girls from the FCIAC among the 20 total who earned all-state honorable mention included Staples junior Josie Dolan, Ridgefield sophomore Georgia Keller and her senior teammate, Grace Collier.

Noble, Keeley, Mrakovcic, Holden, Graham, Rector, Clas, Dolan and Keller also were chosen to the 10-runner CHSCA All-State Girls Cross Country Team along with Emilie Kozeracki of Fairfield Warde.

The pandemic year affected Westhill’s McLaughlin and the Ridgefield boys team particularly this season. McLaughlin improved immensely since last year and most likely would have had major accomplishments in conference and state championship meets had they taken place. King and Namiot have been good friends and solid runners for the last few years and this was supposed to be a year in which a very strong Ridgefield team was set up to have much postseason success.

McLaughlin ran away from the field when he won the FCIAC West Region race by 81 seconds with a time of 15:36.8 which was the fastest of the day by 33 seconds including all three of the boys races. Last year McLaughlin gave notice in 2019 state championship meets of his upcoming ascendance when he placed 11th in the state Class LL championships with a 16:25 over the 5K course and a week later he was 21st at the State Open with a 16:40.

King won the 2020 FCIAC Central Region race in 16:09.8 and Namiot was just behind him as runner-up (16:11.2) to lead the Tigers to the team title. They had the second and third fastest times of the day after McLaughlin.

Last year King and Namiot placed 14th and 15th, respectively, with identical times of 16:35 while leading Ridgefield to third place at the state Class LL championships. Namiot placed 12th (16:35) a week later at the State Open to earn himself a spot on the GameTimeCT all-state first team and King was 33rd (16:56) when the Tigers placed third at the State Open. King has committed to run for the University of Pennsylvnia.

Wilton senior Davis Cote and Fairfield junior Nathan Cramer were selected to the GameTimeCT all-state boys second team. Cramer won this year’s FCIAC East Region race in 16:21.9 and Cote placed third with a 16:28.3 in the FCIAC Central Region meet.

Staples senior Dillon Harding, who placed fourth (16:30.1) in the FCIAC Central Region race, was the conference’s one selection among the 20 total who made all-state honorable mention.

Jonathan Lorenz of Staples and Ridgefield’s Liam Carcich joined McLaughlin, King, Namiot, Cote, Cramer and Harding as the eight runners on the CHSCA All-State Boys Cross Country Team.

Conard junior Gavin Sherry, the defending State Open champion, was the GameTimeCT Runner of the Year for the second consecutive year.

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