By BRIAN JENNINGS
Dan Dachelet passed the baton to assistant coach Connor Green when called to active duty, and the Knights haven’t missed a step.
The Knights came away with a pair of wins in the final meet of the regular season this past week, if there’s anything Green noticed, it’s how both teams have been progressing with their times and how close they’ve been in getting the seventh runner to the top runner.
“I think we’re primed and ready for a great conference meet,” said Green. “We’ve gone against a lot of teams so far this season that look like they’re much better than us at a glimpse. But when we get them into this championship-style meet, I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
Green said that the times of his fourth and fifth runners are a good indication that the boys and girls teams are primed and ready to go for the CCC championship. Green pointed to Natalia Adamczyk and Kailey Schmarr as examples.
“We didn’t really have our best day at the Wickham Invitational, but they both finished with course personal records over 40 seconds,” the coach said. “Just because everyone isn’t running a perfect race, we still have the middle of our pack that sets us up for good success and pushes that entire pack up, in terms of time.”
Green said that he and Dachelet have had the same shared vision for the program, a top-six finish at the CCC championship and a qualification for the state open after a solid performance at the Class LL championship. As long as he keeps to the plan that they set at the beginning of the season, Green said that they’re setting themselves up for a great finish.
“I’ve been with this program for five seasons now, and Dan and I have basically always agreed on everything,” said Green. “There are maybe a handful of things that we disagreed on, training-wise or competition-wise. But in the end, we support each other’s decisions.”
In their final meet of the regular season, the Knight cross country program came away with wins on both sides against divisional NW Catholic at Camp Sloper on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The girls team won, 19-44, and the boys team won, 22-39.
Isabella Scalise edged out NW Catholic’s Kathryn Shea (22:07) by 12 seconds with a time of 21:55 to win the girls race, as the next nine runners were Knights. Scalise finished with the third-fastest time run by a Lady Knight at Camp Sloper, less than a minute away from a course record and about 20 seconds behind the second-fastest time, which she set two years ago.
Shea was ahead of the pack out in first for most of the race, but Scalise was right there with her when they came around the final pond loop within the last mile.
“She did an awesome job of continuously pushing the pace,” the coach said. “This is the Bella Scalise we know and love on our team. She’s the fierce competitor that was going out with a win on her senior day.”
Sarah Minkiewicz (22:35), Adamczyk (22:42), Kate Kemnitz (23:22), and Schmarr (23:24) also scored. Laini Pizzitola (24:08) and Taylor Borla (25:30) contributed.
In the boys race, NW Catholic’s Michael Stamm (18:10) edged Conner Leone (18:25) by 15 seconds to take first. Although he just missed the tape at the finish line, Leone also had backup from his teammates, as 11 of the next 12 runners were Knights.
“My goal was for our guys to win it, but more importantly, I wanted them to get more comfortable with packing it in,” said Green. “As we get into our championship part of the season, the closer the pack the more likely you’re going to have an entire impact on scoring. They did a really did a good job of finding someone to run and stick with.”
Shane Leone (18:32), Sean Young (18:48), Matt Penna (19:19), and Ryan Slesinski (19:24) also scored. Tanner Sperry (19:51) and Tyler Strong (20:09) contributed.
The Knights will enter the postseason when they head back to Wickham Park in Manchester for a third time this season to compete in the CCC championship on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The meet is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
The boys team finished the regular season with an overall record of 6-2. The girls team finished with an overall record of 4-4.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/10/17/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-oct-20-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.