By BRIAN JENNINGS
There were no personal bests recorded through the humid, 80 degree dual meet, but Southington runners graced the top of the podium in both races when the Knights split with Hall at YMCA Camp Sloper on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
Isabella Scalise (22:53) paced the Lady Knights to a comfortable 22-38 victory over Hall in the girls race.
“Bella just absolutely took off with about a mile and a half to go,” said Southington coach Connor Green. “She opened up a huge lead on the girl from Hall.”
Kate Kemnitz (24:11) and Marisa Matthews (24:32) finished under 25 minutes. Catherine Myers (25:03) and Laini Pizzitola (25:05) rounded out the scoring. Sarah Minkiewicz (25:34) and Amanda Perkowski (25:53) contributed.
“Going in, we knew that Hall had one two pretty good frontrunners,” the coach said. “But after that, their depth kind of drops off in comparison to our own team.”
One thing that the Lady Knights have been trying to work on is closing the gap between their top seven runners as much as they possibly can, and Green said that these races are great for that.
“It gives the girls an opportunity to really pack up and work off of each other throughout the race, especially within the last mile,” said Green. “They work towards the team goals, but they also work towards getting their own personal bests. Once we get into some of the larger invitational and postseason meets, those pack finishes are really going to make a difference.”
Prior to the girls race, the boys fell short to Hall by five points, 26-31.
“We knew that Hall was going to be a very tough team,” said Green. “Last year, they were one of the teams that we lost to by a point. Even though they graduated some of their stronger runners, they still have incredible depth. Their boys team has over 100 runners on it, so they’re bound to have some studs that will pop up.”
Mark Murdy (17:56) marshaled the Knights as the frontrunner of the boys race.
“Through the first mile, I was a little nervous because their runner was up front probably by about 10 or 15 yards, which is not substantial, but you’re hoping that it would be a little closer in the beginning,” said Green. “But as the race progressed, Mark did an awesome job. He’s obviously become our top runner and has done a great job leading our boys team from further back in the starting group to all the way up in the top finishes.”
Conner Leone (18:47), Shane Leone (18:50), and Tom Murdy (19:00) finished under 19 minutes. Ryan Slesinski (19:27) rounded out the scoring. Adam Theriault (20:05) and Jordan McMeans (20:19) contributed.
Green credits Shane Leone for keeping the meet as tight as it was. “Shane normally finishes about 20 to 30 seconds off of his brother Conner, but this time he was right on him,” said the coach. “With about 100 yards to go, he was really hauling coming out of the woods. He did a great job of splitting up their two through nine runners.”
Southington will remain home this week when they host Conard on Tuesday, Sept. 20 and the sixth annual Sloper Relays on Friday, Sept. 23.
According to Southington coach Dan Dachelet, the Sloper Relays is set to be the largest cross country meet hosted by a Southington program with 1,047 middle school and high school athletes from 57 teams around the state competing.
The high school race is a six-mile race comprised of nine different relay divisions, where there are two or four relay members running 1.5-mile legs. Relays are either boys, girls, or coed. The middle school race will follow a standard format with a boys and girls 1.5-mile race. The middle school race will be scored using traditional cross country scoring.
The meet will feature the following races: boys 2×3 mile, girls 2×3 mile, coed 2×3 mile, boys 4×1.5 mile, girls 4×1.5 mile, coed 4×1.5 mile, boys freshman 4×1.5 mile, girls freshman 4×1.5 mile, coed freshman 4×1.5 mile.
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