By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington boys cross country had an up-and-down meet against Conard and Avon in the home opener at Camp Sloper on Sept. 17.
The Blue Knights knew the Chieftains would be a challenge. After all, Conard is the top-ranked team in the state, according to coach Dan Dachelet. The Chieftains could wind up being a top team in New England when all is said and done. Southington lost to Conard, 19-36.
Southington was able to the split the tri-meet with a 22-37 win over Avon. The Knights are 2-2 in dual meets after the home opener.
“The guys’ race had some ups and downs,” coach Dan Dachelet said. “I had hoped to break up the Conard top five a bit more. They are the top-ranked team in Connecticut right now, so we knew the win was going to them, but a few guys in our top five didn’t have the consistent race we need to have week in and week out.”
Matt Penna was the first finisher for Southington, taking fifth overall in 17:23. Lucca Riccio ran 18:03.80 to finish seventh while Jake Nafis clocked in at 18:09 to claim eighth. Conard controlled five of the top 10 overall spots, including winner Gavin Sherry, who ran the course in 16:33.40. The Chieftains also got Vebjoern Roeed (third), Callum Sherry (fourth), Tyler Remigino (sixth) and Sophonias Dires (10th) into the overall top 10.
For Southington, Jackson Landino came in 11th (18:37.64), Grayson Borla took 12th (18:46.50) and Ryan Asido was 14th (18:59.30).
“The goal had been for Matt to split up the Sherry twins, which he almost did,” Dachelet said, “Lucca to run with Conard’s No. 3, and Asido, Landino and Borla to hang with Dires. We were close but not as close as I would have liked. This is why [Conard is] No. 1. I’ll be interested to see who else in our conference races them this close though.”
In head-to-head, Southington finished fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th against Conard. The Knights were second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh against Avon in the win.
Southington doesn’t have another dual meet until Oct. 1, when it faces Hall and Simsbury at Hall High School in West Hartford. Before that, there’s the Sloper Relays on Thursday.
“I’m looking for more consistency on the guys side,” Dachelet said. “Too much variation of performance from the Big Red [Invitational].”
Up next: Southington hosted the always-fun Sloper Relays on Thursday at Camp Sloper. Teams at the high school and middle school levels come to compete in the relays annually.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com