Cross Country tested by competition



The coming weeks will be all about racing from here on out as the Blue Knight cross country teams prepare for the postseason, and if there’s anything that Southington coach Dan Dachelet wants to see out of his harriers, it’s energy and desire to want it. He said that he’s definitely been seeing this out of the boys team, and is starting to see glimmers of it out of the girls team.

“We have to have a shared success and all of the team firing at the same time,” the coach said. “When we’re feeling tired in a race, we need to realize that we’re doing this for each other and the team. That’s where a championship comes in.”

The Knights will be back on the trails this week when they travel to Stratton Brook State Park for a double dual meet against Hall and Simsbury on Tuesday, Oct. 3 and Wickham Park in Manchester for the Wickham Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7. The Knights ran both courses in the first week of the season. The boys team is currently 4-1, and the girls team is currently 3-2.

Farmington, Glastonbury

SEPT. 26—With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, Southington hosted a double dual meet at Camp Sloper on Tuesday where a pair of runners were carted off by ambulance, due to heat exhaustion. However, the Knights managed the high humidity, as both teams split with Farmington and Glastonbury.

The boys team swept Farmington, 15-50, but fell, 24-31, to Glastonbury.

“Glastonbury’s been running really well across the state,” said Dachelet. “They had a really good race up in New Hampshire the weekend prior and are the real deal. To come that close to them on the guys side was good. I was happy with the performance.”

Conner Leone paced all runners and won the boys race with a time of 17:44, edging Glastonbury’s Jacob Smith by a few seconds.

Conner Leone’s first-place finish wouldn’t be enough though, as the Tomahawks grabbed four of the next six spots. Shane Leone (18:46), Ryan Slesinski (18:52), Sean Young (19:33), and Jeff Hannigan (19:35) scored as well. Matt Penna (19:57) and Ben Palladino (20:03) contributed.

“If we’re firing on all cylinders, I think that this is a race we can win,” said Dachelet. “If we could get five guys all together at the same time, this is a strong, state open team.”

The girls team defeated the Indians, 19-44, but fell, 20-41, to the Tomahawks. Glastonbury’s girls team is currently ranked as the top team in the state, according to Connecticut Cross Country Coaches Poll.

After missing the first three meets of the season to injury, Kate Kemnitz returned to action by winning the girls race with a time of 22:35, beating out Glastonbury’s Brittany Anderson (22:35) by a kick at the finish line.

“Kate’s obviously a good kicker, and I’m not trying to take anything away from her, but I think she realizes, as well as we do, that it was not a true Glastonbury-Southington outcome,” said Dachelet. “I’m glad Kate was able to beat the girls out, but that’s the number one ranked team in the state right now.”

The Tomahawks filled the next four spots after Anderson.

Sarah Minkiewicz (22:59), Isabella Scalise (23:16), Natalia Adamczyk (23:35), and Julia Michnowicz (24:26) scored as well. Kailey Schmarr (24:40) and Amanda Perkowski (26:11) contributed.

Frank Kelley Invite

SEPT. 30—The Knights closed out the week by traveling to Wrentham, Mass. to compete against some of the top runners in New England at the Frank Kelley Invitational on a 55-degree Saturday. The invite featured a race track-style course where runners ran loops on a field with mostly flat terrain.

According to Dachelet, the invitational was a reward for the Southington runners that trained over the summer. Besides competing in the invitational, the two-day trip also featured a tour of Boston, including a stop at Faneuil Hall.

“Yes, we raced and had good results,” said Dachelet. “But honestly, the goal for me in building a program is that people go back and talk about how awesome it was this weekend. It was meant as a fun time and team bonding.”

Conner Leone paced the boys team to a ninth-place finish out of 19 teams in the championship boys race with a season-best time of 16:46.33, taking 21st out of 135 runners.

Shane Leone (16:58.31), Penna (17:21.60), Slesinski (17:34.63), and Young (17:37.53) scored as well. Hannigan (17:37.64) and Palladino (17:55.55) contributed.

Tristan Shelgren (15:24.53) of Saint John’s Prep beat out Newton North’s Andrew Mah (15:46.39) to win the race. Wakefield beat out Pentucket as the top overall school.

Kemnitz paced the girls team to a seventh-place finish out of 18 teams in the championship girls race with a season-best time of 20:27.23, taking 24th out of 138 runners.

Isabella Scalise (20:27.23), Natalia Adamczyk (20:46.84), Kailey Schmarr (21:21.17), and Laini Pizzitola (21:52.82) scored as well. Amanda Perkowski (22:46.92) contributed.

Littleton’s Sarah Roffman (18:46.62) and Kaitlyn Roffman (18:53.70) graced the finish line first in the race. Woburn beat out Westwood as the top overall school.

Southington was without two of their female varsity runners for the meet.

For this week’s box scores, click here: ( To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at


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