By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Southington cross country season opener on Sept. 11 brought both a mix of weather and mixed results.
The late afternoon dual meet against Manchester at Camp Sloper started under cloudy skies and nasty humidity. Rain began to fall during the boys race, which saw the Blue Knights and Indians battle for each place. Southington wound up with a 28-29 loss.
“The guys knew, we were telling them you got to get that guy [in front of you] and if you don’t find a way to get that guy, you’re going to lose,” coach Dan Dachelet said. “That’s just guts. Manchester had it and we didn’t.”
Manchester freshman Aidan Puffer won the race in 17:58, and senior teammate Yankarlos Diaz was second. The top Southington finishers were juniors Matt Penna in third at 18:42 and Lucca Riccio in fourth at 19:08.1. Manchester claimed three of the top five spots.
“We got to be able to reach down more,” Dachelet said. “Maybe next race we’ll have it, but that’s the sport.”
Dachelet said he liked the effort of some of his younger runners, who will need to gain more experience as the season goes on.
“We’re a young, young team,” Dachelet said. “We have one senior in the Top 10, so we’ve got to start moving the younger guys up. We got to find something.”
The rain fell at times during the girls race as well. The Lady Knights and their Manchester counterparts ran around Camp Sloper’s winding course with some slick spots to traverse and plenty of humidity to battle. Southington came away with the 24-31 victory.
Freshman Jackie Izzo finished second in her first varsity race with a time of 22:02.1. Senior Kate Kemnitz was third in 22:16.8 and sophomore Grace Michaud claimed fourth in 22:21.2.
“Those are three top 30, top 40 runners in the state,” Dachelet said. “Up front we’re strong, and when we get into a big field where you start having big numbers, those three are going to be packed in tight right up front. We just got to close that 4-5 gap, and we’ll see if we can be a contender.”
Dachelet was referring to his No. 4 and No. 5 runners. Senior Natalia Adamczyk finished fifth against Manchester in a time of 23:51.1 to complete Southington’s sweep of the 2, 3, 4 and 5 spots. The fifth finisher for the Lady Knights was senior Kailey Schmarr, who placed 10th.
Manchester junior standout Kate Hedlund won the race in 21:16.2.
Southington runs in Philadelphia
SEPT. 15 – The girls and boys both ran in the Briarwood Invitational, with the girls finishing sixth as a team and the boys taking ninth.
Izzo was the top Southington finisher, taking 12th place in 20:52. Michaud was 15th in 21:04 and Kemnitz took 18th in 21:16.
In the boys race, Penna was the top Blue Knight, claiming 22nd place with a time of 17:30. Riccio was 34th and ran the course in 17:53.
Up next: Southington ran against Conard and Avon on Monday at the West Hartford Reservoir. The Blue Knights host the Sloper Relays on Friday at 4 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com