By SPENCER DREHER
With their performance at the class LL divisional championships last Saturday, both the boys and girls cross country teams have qualified for the state open championship, which is today at 2 p.m.
Returning to Wickham Park in Manchester after competing there in the CCC championships, the boys team finished fourth with a score of 205 and the girls finished sixth with a score of 178.
The highlighted runners for Southington were Jackie Izzo and Grace Michaud, who both finished in the top-10 on the girls’ side.
Here is how each team performed:
Boys Place Fourth
While the boys were not able to crack the top 25 individually, their first five runners all finished in the top 55.
Matthew Penna crossed the finish line first for the Blue Knights, placing 26th with a time of 16:57. Lucca Riccio came in 30th in 17:03, while Jake Nafis finished 42nd in 17:20. Jackson Landino placed 52nd with a time of 17:28 and Drew Nafis rounded out the Knights’ top-five with a time of 17:31, good for 55th place.
While they did not count towards Southington’s score, Ryan Asido finished in 18:17 and Evan Kristopik finished in 18:22.
“The boys are firing on all cylinders right now,” coach Dan Dachelet said. “The expectation for the boys was not just to make it to the state open but to run well there. We have gotten their heads around to actually running fast at the open. We have been telling them to enjoy their performance at the LL meet quickly and then get their game face back.”
All seven boys runners finished in the top-100. Since the team qualified for the state open, all seven will have another chance to compete. As a team, it was the boys best finish in the divisional meet since 1985 and their best combined time at Wickham Park.
Girls Place Sixth
Jackie Izzo came in fourth place and Grace Michaud placed 10th to guide the girls to a sixth place finish. Izzo came in with a time of 19:22 while Michaud finished in 19:45. Dachelet said Izzo and Michaud are the first Southington girls ever to receive all-state honors.
Diane Pillsbury was the next to finish for the Knights as she came in 33rd in 20:56. Emily Moskal finished in 66th in 22:16 while Megan Wadman rounded out the top-five in 69th place with a time of 22:23.
While they did not count towards the team score, Meghan Sheline and Hannah Cooley both finished in the top-100, with respective times of 22:59 and 24:48.
Each of the seven girls runners have qualified for the state open today. It was also the girls’ best combined time at Wickham Park.
“I thought the girls would be an outside shot for the state open,” Dachelet said. “We knew we had three returning runners. The challenge was going to be who was going to be the four and five. Some of those people competing for those were new runners or new to the varsity team. So it was a big ask. Emily Moskal is a three sport athlete, and I knew she had potential. You could see her times drop each race. We dropped almost three minutes from our CCC meet, which is absolutely amazing.”
Each team is back at Wickham Park for the third time in three weeks today. The girls’ race begins at 2 p.m. The boys will follow at 2:45 p.m. The state open consists of runners from all state classes who qualified last Saturday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.