By John Goralski
Four scarlet jerseys spoiled the perfect sea of blue in the boys race. There were no New Britain girls to challenge the girls. On Tuesday, Oct. 8, the Knights scored a pair of forfeits against New Britain at YMCA Camp Sloper.
Winning was never a question in Southington’s final race, and it gave Blue Knight cross country coach Rich Niro a chance to showcase his seniors.
“A team takes on the personality of its seniors, and on both sides I’ve been really impressed with the way that these seniors stepped into that role,” said the coach. “They’ve been really, really good at keeping a young team focused and teaching them the way that we do what we do. We have 29 freshman between the boys and the girls teams, and all of the seniors have been great as leaders.”
Sean Garrison (18:39), Colin Murphy (18:40), Jack Myers (19:05), Barndon Bayron (19:15), and Dylan Sperry (19:16) scored for the Knights as Southington placed 34 runners ahead of New Britain’s fourth runner.
On the girls side, Lauren Perkowski (22:09) and Gabi Napoli (22:17) paced the Southington girls for their fifth win of the season. Catherine Myers (22:58), Amanda Hamel (23:34) and Maggie Meehan (24:06) scored on a course that was peopled entirely by Lady Knights.
“It’s our senior night, and we have a beautiful day and a beautiful place to run, so we really can’t complain,” said Niro. “It’s hard to keep everyone focused on a day like today, but we still have a lot of little things that we want to focus on at the end of the regular season that should help us in the tournament season that starts next week.”
If Tuesday was a day for the seniors, Saturday was a good day for the youth. Niro decided to rest his upperclassmen for the Wickham Invitational Meet and focus on his freshmen in their first event at Wickham Park on an abbreviated 4K rendition of the postseason course.
“With only three days between the Wickham Invite and the CCC Championship at Wickham Park and all of our competitors staying home, I just didn’t think that we could send our varsity teams. We couldn’t handicap ourselves for the CCC championship.”
The Lady Knights won the girls event. Myers (17:59) finished second overall in a two-person race with a girl from Rhode Island. Myers fought ahead of a small group of five runners in the first mile to make it a two person race at the finish. Niro said that it was a great experience on the challenging course.
“Now, she’s seen it, so she won’t be as intimidated at the conference or state meet,” said Niro. “If you have success early at Wickham Park, it will pay off throughout your whole career.”
Margaret Meehan (18:58), Alize Rodriguez (19:26), Michelle Woodruff (20:56), and Kim Stafko (21:55) scored for the Knights.
Mark Murdy (16:29) paced the boys to a seventh place finish out of 21 teams. Adam Theriault (17:15), Michael Balaoing (17:19), Dylan Breutzmann (17:37), and Jake Aparo (17:50) scored.
“They did great, but we knew that we had a lot of talent and depth,” said Niro. “On the girls side, we put three girls in the top 15, and that’s incredible. On the boys side, we had a nice little pack in the front and middle of the race.”