By BRIAN JENNINGS
Conner and Shane Leone and Mark and Tom Murdy led all runners by finishing first overall and first in the Four Boys Division with a time of 31:49 as the four horsemen galloped to victory at the Sloper Relays on Friday.
Southington’s cross country teams welcomed about 1,047 middle and high school athletes from 57 teams around the state to Camp Sloper when they hosted the sixth annual Sloper Relays.
Southington took the top prize…cookies.
Runners were grouped into two and four-person boy, girl, and co-ed teams, and each team member ran 1.5-mile legs in the six-mile high school race. The meet featured the following races: boys 2×3 mile, girls 2×3 mile, co-ed 2×3 mile, boys 4×1.5 mile, girls 4×1.5 mile, co-ed 4×1.5 mile, boys freshman 4×1.5 mile, girls freshman 4×1.5 mile, co-ed freshman 4×1.5 mile.
“It’s a unique experience,” said Green. “We are fortunate to host and run in the event every year. But when we have new runners, and they first hear about what the Sloper Relays are, they get really excited.”
Bristol Central beat out Southington’s boys team by a race with the most top-three finishes in every division, but Southington’s girls team had a top-three finish in every race, but the Freshman Girls Division.
Other Southington teams that finished first in their respective divisions included Jordan McMeans and Catherine Myers (37:36) in the One Boy/One Girl Division and Kate Kemnitz and Laini Pizzitola (41:11) in the Two Girls Division.
Natalia Adamczyk, Jeffrey Hannigan, Amanda Perkowski, and Sean Young just missed first in the Co-ed Division with a second-place finish (37:35), and Marisa Matthews, Maggie Meehan, Sarah Minkiewicz, and Isabella Scalise finished third (40:52) in the Four Girls Division. Ryan Slesinski and Adam Theriault finished eighth (35:00) in the Two Boys Division, but also trailed behind the Leone and Murdy brothers with the school’s second-best overall time in 11th.
SEPT. 20—After splitting races with Hall in 80-degree weather the week prior, Southington ran against Conard at home earlier in the week on Tuesday through even higher humidity. However, both teams were able to come away from the muggy meet in triumph. The boys team was close to a shutout with an 18-45 victory, and the girls team held onto to win, 25-31, in a close finish.
Conard may have had the top two runners in the girls race, but the close gap of the Southington runners, which was noted in the season preview, helped the Lady Knights secure the six-point victory by taking the next five places. Scalise paced the girls team with a time of 22:45, shading eight seconds off of her time from the previous dual meet.
“The meet was a little bit closer than we had anticipated,” said Green. “Conard’s top two girls [Gwendolyn Geisler and Lindsey Chen] are phenomenal runners. Last year, they were a minute ahead of Bella at Wickham. The fact that they finished about a minute ahead of her at Sloper isn’t terribly surprising, but we were very aware of them.”
The other four Lady Knights behind Scalise dropped seconds off of their times as well, including Myers (23:24), Kemnitz (23:58), Matthews (24:00), and Minkiewicz (24:07).
“I think the biggest takeaway was Catherine Myers finishing second for our team,” the coach said. “She ran an awesome race on her senior day and really went out with a bang for her last Sloper race.”
Mark Murdy paced the boys team by finishing first overall with a time of 18:28. Conner Leone (18:37), Tom Murdy (18:54), Shane Leone (19:27), and Slesinski (19:50) contributed as well.
“The heat definitely played a factor, and Conard’s boys team isn’t as strong as Hall’s boys team,” the coach said. “It’s not that our guys were taking it easy because of them, but Mark was the frontrunner to begin with and didn’t necessarily need to push the pace of the first mile. That’s what really sets the tone for a really fast time on our course.”
Currently, the girls team is 2-0 overall and in the CCC Central Blue, while the boys team is 1-1 overall and in the CCC Central Blue. Southington will be back in action this in a tri-team meet against Glastonbury and Simsbury and a weekend invitational in Thetford, Vt.
Photos by JOHN GORALSKI
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