By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knight cross country teams competed at the Briarwood Invitational at the historical Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, Penn. on Saturday, Sept. 19.
“We got a chance to run the course the night prior,” said Southington coach Dan Dachelet. “It was a good thing we did. When we turned the corner on the trails, there was this gasp from the team as they saw Parachute Hill for the first time. There really isn’t anything that steep or long that we’ve ever raced before. It is quite a challenging course, but frankly the best course I think I’ve ever seen with a great mix of surfaces, elevation changes, and trail size.”
The boy’s team finished fourth overall (1:30:58) out of 15 schools in Division I (large schools), behind New Jersey’s Trenton Central (1:29:01), Pennsylvania’s William Tennent (1:30:24), and Lower Merion (1:30:56). The boy’s team just missed third place by a couple of seconds.
Sean Garrison paved the way for the boy’s team with a seventh-place finish (17:23) out of 100 runners. Mark Murdy also managed to crack the top 10 (10th, 17:33). Tom Murdy (18:22) and Conner Leone (18:38) finished in the top half, and Shane Leone (19:02) capped the Southington scoring in 53rd place. Adam Theriault (19:16) and Jordan McMeans (19:20) contributed.
“Mark Murdy runs well from behind, and on this difficult course, moved up from the 40s to top 10 by picking off people who had went out too far,” said Dachelet. “Mark being within 10 seconds of Sean in a race is huge for us. Now we just need to move that 3 through 5 runner up about 30 seconds, and we’ll be set.”
The girl’s team performed even better with a second-place finish (1:50:27) out of 12 schools in Division I, behind Pennsylvania’s Great Valley (1:46:49). All of Southington’s seven girls finished within the top 40.
Gabi Napoli led the squad with a seventh-place finish (21:21) out of 81 runners. Isabella Scalise (22:14) scored 15th. Marisa Matthews (22:17), Catherine Myers (22:17), and Lauren Perkowski (22:18) capped the team scoring with top 20 finishes. Sarah Minkiewicz (23:13) and Laini Pizzitola (24:02) contributed.
“The ladies had an incredibly impressive 57 seconds between our first and 5th girl, and an unheard of four seconds between our two to five girls,” said Dachelet. “That pack is running at its finest. I’m excited about our depth and am looking forward to going head to head with our conference rivals.”
Up next for Southington is the fifth annual Camp Sloper Relays on Friday, Sept. 25. The race is set to start at 4 p.m. at YMCA Camp Sloper in Southington.