By KEVIN ROBERTS
The ultimate goal for the Southington girls cross country team is to run in early November.
If the Lady Knights are still running at that point, it will be at the state open at Wickham Park in Manchester on Friday, Nov. 2. Southington came one step closer to realizing that goal, according to coach Dan Dachelet.
“We’re on the cusp,” he said after the conference meet. “We’re definitely on the cusp, so we shall see.”
The Lady Knights finished in the Top 5 at the CCC Cross Country Championships on Oct. 16 at Wickham Park. The Southington boys ended up in the Top 10. Here’s more about each team:
Girls crack the Top 5
The Southington girls finished fifth out of 26 teams with only Glastonbury, Hall, EO Smith and Tolland ahead of them. The Lady Knights tied for the best finish ever by a SHS team, but their coach said that they could do even better.
“I think we still have a better race in us on the ladies’ side,” Dachelet said. “Diane [Pillsbury] stepped up and had a good solid race—what she’s capable of doing. Kailey [Schmarr] had a solid race as well. That was what we needed out of her.”
Of course, freshman phenom Jackie Izzo (20:03.1) continued her torrid pace, leading the girls with a sixth place finish against a field of 211 runners—the best time ever for a Southington girl at a Wickham race. Senior Kate Kemnitz (20:55.5) finished 16th the field, while fellow senior Kailey Schmarr (21:47.3) placed 35th.
Senior Natalia Adamczyk (22:14) finished 43rd, and sophomore Diane Pillsbury took 51st in 22:28. Kemnitz’s time was the fourth best ever for a Lady Knight at Wickham.
Pillsbury has stepped up for Southington in the last couple weeks, which can only help the Lady Knights in their push to make the state open. Izzo, Kemnitz, Schmarr, Adamczyk and Pillsbury all made All-CCC. The combined time run by Southington’s Top 5 was its second-best ever at Wickham in all races.
Boys look to the future
Southington finished 10th out of 28 teams in the boys race. Dachelet said that he knew the Blue Knights weren’t going to challenge for a high position in the CCC West Region or the conference in general. Instead, Dachelet said that the team’s focus was on a strong finish to the season…with a look toward the future.
“I think we got a better race in us still, but this is all kind of practice somewhat for next year, get these guys motivated and in the right frame of mind,” Dachelet said. “We lose one senior out of our Top 10.”
Junior Matthew Penna (17:18.6) will be one of those returning runners in 2019, and he was the first Southington finisher. He placed 28th against a field of 218 runners. Dachelet thought Penna had a great time given the muddy conditions on the course. It has rained a lot during this fall season, and Wickham Park is heavily used.
Junior Lucca Riccio (17:50.3) was the only other Southington runner to crack the top 50, but the Knights finished all six runners in the top 100. Junior Ryan Asido (18:28.1) finished 71st. Senior Ryan Slesinski (18:51.2) took 81st, and freshman Grayson Borla (18:44) finished 86th overall.
Penna and Riccio were All-CCC, and Penna’s time was the seventh all-time for an SHS boy at Wickham.
Sophomore Kevin Le continued his transition to the varsity team from the junior varsity. He finished 97th in 18:57, just behind fellow sophomore Jackson Landino, who took 91st in 18:47.9.
Class LL state meet
Southington will run in the Class LL state championship meet on Saturday at Wickham Park. The boys race begins at 10:20 a.m. with the girls race following at 10:50 a.m. Staples is the defending boys champion while Glastonbury holds that distinction for the girls.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.