By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls cross country headed to Lincolndale, N.Y., for the Somers Big Red Invitational on Sept. 7. It may not have counted toward the CIAC portion of the schedule, but the Lady Knights put together a strong effort in a second place finish in Division I.
Southington began the dual meet season with a tri-meet at J.B. Williams Park in Glastonbury against the host Tomahawks and Farmington on Sept. 10. The girls lost, 15-50, to Glastonbury and, 17-39, to Farmington. Dual meets aren’t what coach Dan Dachelet has his team focused on.
“The way we’re approaching it with the athletes is that we’re not going to worry about the regular season wins and losses and come [out] strong at the CCC meet,” Dachelet said. “From our perspective that race will define what we’ve done over the course of six or seven weeks.”
Southington raced aggressively at the Big Red Invite, and the results showed as much. Jackie Izzo finished second behind winner Jalyssa Smith of Arlington, N.Y. Izzo ran 19:36.7 to Smith’s 19:32.4. Grace Michaud came in fifth place in 19:59.9 while Diane Pillsbury took 13th in 21:28.1.
“Jackie, Grace and Diane ran lights out aggressive races,” Dachelet said. “We’re strong up front and these guys aren’t scared of anyone. Behind them, we’re looking to keep improving each meet this year with a lot of girls who aren’t used to be a top five runner. It’s early in the season and we’re hopeful that we’ll have two girls step up by the time CCC rolls around.”
The top five runners score for a team at the CCC and state meets. At Big Red, Southington finished second with a score of 87. Arlington, N.Y., took first place with a score of 38. Meghan Sheline was the fourth Knight to cross the finish line, and she did so in 33rd place in 23:32.6. Emma Swindon placed 50th in 24:59.2.
SEPT. 10—When it comes to the season overall, the Knights want to race less.
Just three days after the Big Red Invite, Southington had a tri-meet against Glastonbury and Farmington.
“Ideally we’d race once every other week and no more than once every seven days,” Dachelet said. “We’re almost at that schedule now with the exception of two weeks where we have an invitational on a Saturday and a dual on a Tuesday. When we step on a start line, we want the athlete to know that it’s go time and get pumped for that race. You can only go to the well so often from a mental and physical perspective.”
Dachelet rested his top three girls in the Glastonbury tri-meet. The top finisher for Southington was Sheline, who placed 15th overall in 20:03.38.
“The biggest takeaway from Glastonbury was Meghan Sheline having a very solid race,” Dachelet said. “She ran the same pace as Somers on a much more difficult course. She just needs some confidence in these situations.”
Emily Moskal ran to a 24th place finish in 21:24.88. Megan Wadman claimed 25th place in 21:39.34 while Swindon was 26th in 21:57.5. Claire Cavanaugh was the fifth Knight to cross the finish line and did so in 22:45.45, which was good for 31st place.
There were some good efforts from Southington in the first week, and Dachelet will be expecting more as the season moves on.
Up next: The Knights hosted Conard and Avon in the home opener on Tuesday at Camp Sloper.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com