By BRIAN JENNINGS
Southington experienced the first round of out-of-state competition over the weekend as the cross country program traveled to the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in Edgartown, Mass. for the 10th annual Martha’s Vineyard High School Cross Country Invitational.
Southington coach Dan Dachelet said that Saturday, Sept. 10 made for a long day, especially without some of the team’s top runners, Mark Murdy, Tom Murdy, and Marisa Matthews. But leaving Martha’s Vineyard with 19 of 31 personal-best times on a legitimately fast course was a great way to launch the season.
“We knew that it was a flat, legitimate 5K,” said Southington coach Dan Dachelet. “We were missing some good kids, but anytime you go against a bunch of good teams and you get third and fourth with many personal records, it’s a good day. I think we could have gotten second if we had all of our kids.”
The Lady Knights placed third overall in the girls race out of 13 teams in the region with a total time of 1:46:44.15 and average of 21:20.83. Isabella Scalise (19:56.25) finished eighth overall to pace the Knights.
Kate Kemnitz (21:07.73) and Catherine Myers (21:19.88) finished in the top 20, while Laini Pizzitola (22:00.18) and Sarah Minkiewicz (22:20.11) rounded out the scoring with top 35 finishes. Every Lady Knight runner finished in the top 50, including alternates Amanda Perkowski (22:59.39) and Natalia Adamczyk (23:02.04).
Guilford won the race and Plymouth North (Massachusetts) finished as the runner-up. Southington finished third.
“Bella, Kate, and a couple other people fell off the pace that they had started at, which is fine because they were trying,” the coach said. “Bella was looking like she was going to be in fourth place for a while there, but she just lost her wheels in the last mile. I’d rather have someone be aggressive than not though.”
The boys team placed fourth out of 17 teams and 115 runners with a total time of 1:29:04.86 and average of 17:48.98.
In the absence of frontrunner Mark Murdy, Conner Leone (17:03.67) paced the Knights, just squeaking into the top 10.
Shane Leone (17:35.46) placed 20th. Ryan Slesinski (17:49.62), Sean Young (18:09.15) and Jordan McMeans (18:26.96) rounded out the scoring with top 50 finishes. Adam Theriault (18:39.92) and Nick Benham (18:43.1) contributed.
“Shane was not very far behind Conner,” said Dachelet. “He had an awful start and was playing catch-up the entire time. He was our fifth or sixth guy at the one-mile mark, and he went all the way through the team. That was a great run by Shane. I wasn’t counting on that, and it was a huge bump up.”
Barrington, R.I. won the race, followed by Coyle and Cassidy (Massachusetts) and Hingham (Massachusetts).
Southington went to Saturday’s invitational to compete, but Dachelet said that the trip to Massachusetts was also a good opportunity for the runners to bond.
“Are they going to remember the race five years from now? Probably not,” the coach said. “They’re going to remember going down to Vineyard Haven to get pizza and ice cream. I’m a competitive coach, but I’m a big believer in establishing memories for the kids. Thankfully my athletic director and booster club believe this as well.”
Southington will compete in their first dual meet of the season when they host Hall at YMCA Camp Sloper on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
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