By John Goralski
Lauren Perkowski (20:06.72) charged into the top five at the Nonnewaug Invitational Meet. Gabi Napoli (20:36.07) broke into the top 10, and Catherine Myers (20:51.97) finished 14th, but that was expected.
On Friday, Oct. 5, Coach Dan Dachelet expected his top three runners to compete against the top girls at the Woodbury race, but even he couldn’t expect what happened next.
Amanda Hamel (20:52.97) finished on Myers’ heels to claim 15th place in the varsity race, and sophomore Carson Stifel (20:56.05) capped Southington’s scoring at 17th place.
Sarah Minkiewicz didn’t score, but she finished in the top 20 overall. When Southington’s second alternate, Megan Albert, crossed the finish line ahead of Avon’s last scorer, it meant that the Knights had finished seven runners before anybody else had managed to finish five.
“Amanda Hamel really stepped up, and the rest packed in well,” said Dachelet. “Carson broke into the top five for the first time, and that was nice. I think we’re ready to do something special. Avon was a ranked team, and that might be the first time that we’ve been able to do something like this.”
When the dust settled, Southington (58) edged Avon (60) atop the team standings. East Hampton (139), Oxford (143), and Nonnewaug (155) trailed far behind. The Knights had surged pasts 11 other programs to snatch their victory at an invitational meet.
“There was some really good quality up front with some of these teams,” Dachelet said. “It was a very good race for us.”
The girls were far from finished. Southington scored five girls in the top 10 at the JV meet and swept the competition with all seven runners in the top 13. Southington’s top two JV finishers would have scored in the top half of the varsity race.
Even the boys scored well despite tired legs. Sean Garrison (16:48.82) set the pace with a 10th place finish. Mark Murdy (17:01.02) finished 15th overall. Jack Myers (17:19.61) and Brandon Bayron (17:28.82) both finished in the top 30 with Nick Raguzzine (17:31.68) rounding out the scoring just outside the top 30.
New Milford (29) out-distanced Cheshire (52) to take the team title, but Southington (108) finished just one point behind Shepaug Valley for fourth place overall.
“The mileage is still there on them, and I think that they’re a little sore. But they still ran well,” said Dachelet. “They still ran fast, but I think they all feel there’s still something more under the hood.”
Now, both teams will begin the taper as Southington prepares for the upcoming postseason.
“I already began cutting the mileage,” said Dachelet. “We’re going to do a workout on Tuesday against New Britain, and we’re going to get a nice interval training in on Thursday or Friday before we cut the mileage back to get fresh legs. We’re going to get ready to roll for conferences.”
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By John Goralski