The Danbury boys cross country team, rated No. 2 in the latest state coaches poll after holding the top position earlier in the season, used pack running to sweep Norwalk, Bassick and host Fairfield Ludlowe in an FCIAC meet on Tuesday afternoon.
After Norwalk senior Ezequiel Rodriguez pulled ahead on the track in the final 400 meters of the course to win the boys race, the Hatters took the next three places and wound up with seven in the top 10.
Danbury improved to 14-0 in the conference and overall by defeating Norwalk by 21-34, Ludlowe 17-37 and Bassick 15-50.
Danbury's girls team beat Ludlowe 22-32 and scored a forfeit victory over Norwalk -- when two Bears' runners could not finish -- and raised both record to 7-6. Kaleigh Constantine, of Danbury, won the girls race. Both courses covered 2.98 miles.
Falcons senior Josh Archer placed fifth overall in the boys race in 17 minutes and 18 seconds.
Ludlowe junior Kelly Walsh was fourth in the girls race, finishing in 21:11.
Four other Falcons placed in the girls' top 10 -- freshman Kristen Chen (21:28) was fifth, Julia Ehr (21:39) seventh, sophomore Anna Leatherwood (22:00) ninth and 10th-grader Francesca Barucci (22:03) 10th.
"Overall, I think the kids ran well," said Christina Caron, coach of both Ludlowe teams. "Obviously, Danbury (boys) is one of the most competitive teams in the state. But that was impressive for Josh to come in behind that one Norwalk kid and those Danbury runners. He's been our No. 1 all year."
Ludlowe lost to Norwalk 19-36 but defeated Bassick 18-37, which moved the Falcons' boys record to 4-10. Aren Heitmann was Ludlowe's next fastest runner, placing 19th overall in 18:05. Bassick's Saman Hassan was nine seconds slower in 20th overall, the Lions' swiftest runner.
Walsh wasn't so happy with her time, noticeably slower than last week's race -- run in cooler weather -- but wasn't chalking Tuesday up as a bad day. "I wasn't pleased with my place," Walsh said. "I felt good in the first mile but felt kind of bad after that." The Ludlowe girls, with the split, are 5-8.
For Constantine, it was her first overall win of the season. "Our top three are pretty close," said Danbury coach Marsha Turek, "and they were close behind Kaleigh. I think that helped Kaleigh. Her winning for the first time is a big deal. She's very consistent and hard working."
Rodriguez is in his second year in the sport, and coach Carlos Rodriguez (no relation) says "he's just going to get better. This is great for the program to win against one of the great clubs," said Carlos Rodriguez, who called it a confidence booster for the runner they call "Ezzy."
For Ludlowe, whose teams each have been battling injuries, an improvement of 15 seconds per runner by season's end would leave the Falcons in better standing. "Overall, both teams are not far off from being in the middle of the FCIAC. That's what we're going to be working on," Caron said.
Ludlowe's final regular season dual meet in Oct. 8 at Staples, with the conference championship meet Oct. 17 at Waveny Park in New Canaan.
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