By SPENCER DREHER
The rain held up just long enough for the Central Connecticut Conference to compete in its championship cross country meet Oct. 16 at Wickham Park in Manchester. A year after the Southington girls team finished third and boys finished fourth, both teams placed seventh in this year’s meet.
Coach Dan Dachelet said he was more focused on each runner’s individual performance as they worked on improving their times for the Class LL Divisional Championships tomorrow.
“We treated the Conference meet as a warmup for the Class meet next Saturday,” Dachelet said after the meet. “You can only get up so many times for big races and we set a bit of a lighter tone for everyone. But this is the last race for many of our kids so we did want them to think through a race strategy. We had a goal setting session that lasted about an hour where we talked through the course, gave them a bunch of historical times and had them fill out a personal and team goal sheet. They also have to come up with low, medium and high goals for each meet.”
Dachelet said that overall, it was a good day for the Knights and the course was in good condition for a solid day from all runners.
“Overall, it was a phenomenal day for us,” Dachelet said. “It was great weather. We would have preferred a bit colder but it was still good conditions. The course was still firm and had absorbed previous rain well. By and large, just about everyone had a season best time on the course or flat out had their personal record. Wickham is definitely a hilly course, but not near as difficult as our home course. So, a personal record at Wickham is a big deal.”
Some of the top runners for each team finished in the top-25, with some finishing with their personal best times at Wickham Park.
Girls Finish Seventh
The Lady Knights placed seventh with a total score of 201. While they had two runners finish in the top-12, they finished behind Hall, Simsbury, Glastonbury, Tolland, EO Smith, and Avon, respectively.
Jackie Izzo was the first to cross the finish line for Southington, as she finished seventh in 19:33.4, a personal best at Wickham Park by almost thirty seconds. Grace Michaud was next in 12th place with a time of 20:07.6.
Diane Pillsbury also recorded her personal best time at Wickham Park, placing 37th in 21:20.4. Emily Moskal and Megan Wadman also contributed to the Knights’ scoring, with respective times of 22:46.5 and 23:08.
“I do know on the ladies side that our top girls feel like they can take some more time off and possibly stick with a few girls farther ahead,” Dachelet said. “Our four through seven runners ran season best performances, but for them to go to the Open everyone needs to find 10 seconds a girl.”
Kate Hedlund of Manchester placed first in the race in 18:59.2. But Hall had their first five runners all finish in the top-20, giving them their winning score of 59.
Boys Place Seventh
The boys also placed seventh, with a score of 184. They finished behind the winner, Tolland, as well as Conard, Glastonbury, Hall, Bristol Central, and Newington, respectively.
Matt Penna was the first to finish for the Knights, placing 17th in 16:41. Lucca Riccio came in 26th in a personal best time at Wickham Park of 17:25.2. Jake Nafis was close behind with a time of 17:27.1, good for 28th place. Dachelet reported that it is also the best result by a Southington freshman all-time.
Jackson Landino and Evan Kristopik also recorded personal bests as they rounded out Southington’s top-five. Landino finished in 17:54.0while Kristopik recorded a time of 18:07.2. Fourteen of the Southington boys’ runners broke their personal best records last Wednesday.
“On the guys side, they ran number 3 all time at Wickham but honestly they’re better than that,” Dachelet said. “We had hoped for three under 17 minutes but came up a little short. No excuses, but they set their sights on challenging for New Englands and right now, they’re on the bubble of making the Open. So, everyone needs to settle into a bit faster pace and bring it home the last mile. Similarly, they need 10 to 15 seconds a man to be where they should be.”
Gavin Sherry of Conard finished first for the boys in 15:43. However, Tolland had all of their top-five runners finish in the top-15, including three of the top-seven, to finish with the best score of 44.
Up next: The boys and girls will be back at Wickham Park tomorrow to compete in the Class LL. The girls are scheduled to start at 3:10 p.m. with the boys following at 3:45 p.m. The girls are coming off a 12th-place finish in last year’s class championship while the boys are coming off a 19th-place finish.
The state open meet is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. at Wickham Park.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.