Ridgefield cross country’s postseason run highlights FCIAC’s performance in state meets

MANCHESTER – Ridgefield High School’s boys cross country team utilized some proficient pack running to win the team title at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Open Cross Country Championships on Nov. 5 at Wickham Park.

That capped quite the successful run for coach Bryan Kovalsky’s Tigers over a span of 17 days.

They won the FCIAC Championships on Oct. 20 at Waveny Park in New Canaan, placed second at the CIAC Class LL Championships on Nov. 1 and four days later they captured the school’s second State Open championship eight years after the initial one.

Ridgefield’s girls cross country team, led by Katherine Rector winning the first two championship races, also had great success in those three postseason meets in that same 17-day span.

Rector won the FCIAC race to lead Ridgefield to the team title, she was the Class LL individual champion while leading the Tigers to third place and Rector placed fourth at the State Open to lead Ridgefield to fourth place.

The Ridgefield boys team won its State Open by having the five scoring Tigers all run within 39 seconds of each other.

Ridgefield sophomore Steven Hergenrother placed 10th overall as the first three Tigers ran within 10 seconds of each other. Hergenrother covered the hilly and demanding 5,000-kilometer course (3.1 miles) in 16 minutes, 13 seconds, to finish first among FCIAC runners. He was also the fastest underclassman in the race as the top nine runners were all seniors.

Matthew McDonough placed 15th with a 16:21 while his fellow Ridgefield senior teammate Jack Dovaras was 20th with a 16:23.

Two more Ridgefield seniors clinched the team title. Benjamin Mickool placed 33rd in 16:48 and Henri Vieltojarvi was 38th with a 16:52.

Ridgefield had the lowest team score of 82 points to win the championship by a comfortable 28 points less than runner-up Xavier (110).

Team scores were tabulated by adding the place position finishes of the top five runners from each team which had at least five runners. Those positions were where the runners placed among all the runners on full teams, so the place positions of the runners who placed high but ran individually were excluded from the team scoring tabulations.

Hall, which had won the Class LL meet four days earlier, placed third with 112.

There were two FCIAC teams among the top four as Staples placed fourth with 168 points. Ridgefield and Staples were the only two conference teams who placed among the top 20.

Fairfield Ludlowe senior Nathan Cramer, who previously won the FCIAC race, was the second highest finisher from the conference. He placed 14th with a 16:21.

Zachary Taubman of Staples placed 21st with a 16:25.

Three more FCIAC runners finished among the top 50: Ben Lorenz (44th with a 17:01) and Jalen St. Fort (49th, 17:06) of Staples, and Wilton’s Michael Byrnes (47th, 17:06).

Conard senior Gavin Sherry, who had already secured his legacy of being among Connecticut’s greatest all-time distance runners ever, won the race with a 15:16 which was six seconds faster than his twin brother, Callum Sherry, who was runner-up.

Gavin Sherry was defending champion. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented any state cross country championship meets from being run last year. Gavin Sherry won the 2019 State Open in 15:38 a year after he finished second as a freshman with a 16:04.

Somers senior Rachel St. Germain won the girls State Open race in dominant fashion as her winning time of 18:02 was 46 seconds faster than runner-up Brooke Strauss (18:48), a Glastonbury freshman who was runner-up to Ridgefield’s Rector four days earlier at the Class LL championship meet.

New Milford’s Sydney Kelleher placed third with an 18:49 and Rector finished fourth with an 18:53 which was eight seconds faster than her winning time of 19:01 at the Class LL meet.

Rector was the first of three FCIAC runners among the top eight and 13 conference runners in the top 50.

Trumbull senior Kali Holden placed sixth with a 19:03 and Fairfield Ludlowe senior Anna Keeley (19:14) was eighth.

Those other 10 FCIAC runners who placed among the top 50 were Greenwich’s Esme Daplyn (16th, 19:32), Darien’s Julianne Teitler (19th, 19:34), Wilton’s Emily Mrakovcic (20th, 19:34), Danbury’s Stephanie Queiroz (24th, 19:39), Ridgefield’s Deirdre Flanagan (29th, 19:44), Darien’s Mairead (34th, 19:57), Trumbull’s Evelyn Marchand (27th, 20:02), New Canaan’s Charlotte Moor (39th, 20:08), Josie Dolan (41st, 20:10), and Ridgefield’s Georgia Keller (49th, 20:24).

New Milford won the State Open girls team title with 94 points, 30 less than runner-up Glastonbury. Hall was third with 171 and Ridgefield was fourth with 178 as there were six FCIAC teams among the top 12.

The other five FCIAC teams among the top 12 were New Canaan (seventh with 232 points), Greenwich (eighth, 236), Trumbull (ninth, 243), Fairfield Ludlowe (11th, 248) and Darien (12th, 280).

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