By BRIAN JENNINGS
Some had trouble maintaining a steady pace, some struggled to make it up the final hill, and some collapsed after they crossed the finish line. Almost every spectator who lined the fences had a smile on their face as they basked in the 80-degree weather, but it wasn’t a lovely stroll through the park for everyone.
Runners approached the starting line with a look of concern on their faces.
“I know that the effort was there,” said Southington coach Dan Dachelet. “We were there mentally and were pushing it physically. The heat has never been our friend, and the sudden shift in the temperatures really bothered our team more than the other teams.”
Although Mother Nature made it tough for Southington to reach their goals at the conference meet, Dachelet said that there was no real answer to prepare for the 80 degree temperatures athletes were forced to run in. They just had to make the best out of what was given to them.
“I was telling them to hydrate, and that’s about all we really could have done,” said Dachelet. “We train in the weather that’s given to us. Maybe you go out a little bit easier so that you build into the race a little bit more. I don’t think we did that though. We do well when it’s hot, hot, hot, then we run in a hot race.”
This time, the unseasonal heat took runners by surprise.
Southington entered its first meet of the postseason a Wickham Park in Manchester for the powerhouse CCC Championship on Wednesday, Oct. 19. With the postseason tapers, most of the schools dropped about 15 to 30 seconds per runner at the conference meet compared to the Wickham Invitational a couple weeks prior.
Southington’s teams dropped about a minute across the board, but that still fell short of their goals.
“Everyone was a little disappointed with their times,” the coach said. “There were a handful of people who hit their goal times on the JV side. But for whatever reason, we just got into that race and weren’t able to push through the heat.”
Prior to the conference meet, Dachelet had predicted that the boys team would place anywhere from second to seventh. They ended up placing seventh overall out of 31 teams, finishing third behind Hall and Glastonbury in the CCC Central Blue. Hall also won the boys CCC title, followed by East Catholic and Tolland.
Mark Murdy (17:27.3) paced the Blue Knights with an 11th-place overall performance out of 207 runners, finishing fifth in the CCC Central Blue. Tom Murdy (17:59.3), Conner Leone (18:18.5), Shane Leone (18:35.1), and Ryan Slesinski (18:53.2) scored. Jeffrey Hannigan (19:24.2) and Jordan McMeans (20:21.3) contributed.
The girls team placed eighth overall out of 26 teams, finishing third behind Glastonbury and Simsbury in the CCC Central Blue. Glastonbury captured the girls CCC title as well, followed by Tolland and Simsbury.
Isabella Scalise (21:23.1) led the Lady Knights by finishing 20th overall out of 184 runners, placing eighth in the CCC Central Blue. Marisa Matthews (21:58.6), Sarah Minkiewicz (22:29.9), Natalia Adamczyk (22:35.4), and Kate Kemnitz (22:48.9) scored. Catherine Myers (22:56.2) and Laini Pizzitola (24:22.9) contributed.
Southington experienced a rough outing at the conference meet, but Dachelet said that they are looking forward to the cooler weather that is forecasted for the Class LL meet when Southington returns to Wickham Park on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“Everyone is going to benefit from that better weather, but for whatever reason, we just race better as a squad in the cooler weather,” said Dachelet. “Give me 32 degrees, wet, and muddy, and I think we’d be champs.”
The boys race is scheduled to begin approximately at 3:10 p.m. with the girls race following shortly after at 3:40 p.m.
“We have to bounce back and I think that both teams are all gung-ho for it,” the coach said. “We were in this position last year, and we know what we need to do. Everyone, by and large, did exactly what they needed to do last year, in terms of times.”
The girls team placed 6th overall at last year’s meet, while the boys team placed 10th overall.
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