Youthful Warde, Ludlowe, Prep runners shine in league meets
With a roster full of talented, but young, runners, Warde boys' and girls' cross country coach Tim Foster looked at the big picture and figured a top five finish might be the best his Mustangs teams could do against the big guns of the FCIAC.
With just five seniors on the boys' side and seven on the girls, Foster has been relying on youthful exuberance and athleticism throughout the fall season, en route to a successful 15-3 mark with the boys' and a 14-4 record with the girls.
And while the big guns -- Staples, Ridgefield Danbury and Darien -- fought for FCIAC supremacy in Monday's league championship meet at Waveny Park in New Canaan, Warde put on a solid show, placing fifth, just like Foster thought, in both the boys' and girls' divisions.
"I think going in we felt that we'd probably finish somewhere around that (fifth spot) on both sides, so we kind of met our expectations," Foster said. "Individually, we got some performances from some people that exceeded expectations, getting three runners that achieved all-FCIAC, Sarah Radziewicz, Gabi Galletti (on the girls' side) and Will Brisman (on the boys). They all ran really great and their times were quite fast. As a team I think we did exactly what we thought we'd do."
Radziewicz completed the 4-kilometer course in 15:18 to finish eighth overall, with Galletti right behind her at 15:19, good for 10th place. Both earned all-FCIAC first team honors with their placements. Brisman finished the 5-kilometer course in a career-best 16:09 -- nearly a minute faster than his previous best, according to Foster. He also earned first-team all-FCIAC honors with that ninth place showing.
"He took like, a minute off his previous best mark. He was able to pull away early in the race and that's a respectable time, for sure," Foster said. "This is Gabi's first year with the team and with Sarah, having those fast times, that's great. And their both sophomores, along with Will, so it speaks well for the future."
Likewise the future looks bright at Ludlowe, who placed eighth in both the boys' and girls' divisions. The Falcons, loaded with sophomores and juniors, also produced solid finishes for coach Christina Caron, sparked by Kristen Chen, who led the girls' side with a time of 16:33, good for 36th place overall and Ben Ertel, who ran a 16:59, finishing 28th overall on the boys' side, earning second-team all-FCIAC status.
The top seven finishers for each school (boys and girls) were:
Warde girls: Radziewicz (15:18) 8th, Galletta (15:19) 10th, Olivia Spinosa (15:54) 23rd, Amanda Kuczo (15:55) 24th, Molly Davidson (16:03) 29th, Hannah Dougherty (16:36) 39th and Isabelle Radziewicz (16:37) 40th.
Spinosa, Kuczo and Davidson all won second-team all-FCIAC honors.
Warde boys: Brisman (16:09) 9th, Charles Keiffer (16:55) 27th, Roman Colao (17:06) 31st, Alex Mocarski (17:11) 32nd, Alex Petrecca (17:20) 35th, Jackson Stearns (17:41) 41st and Matt Wojnoski (18:00) 54th. Keiffer won second-team all-FCIAC.
Ludlowe girls: Chen (16:33) 36th, Keegan Simonsen (16:46) 42nd, Anna Leatherwood (16:49) 44th, Samantha Rossi (16:50) 45th, Kelly Walsh (17:06) 57th, Lauren Revay (17:15) 60th and Francesca Barucci (17:18) 62nd.
"I was pleased with our finishes, we've never finished above eighth before," said Caron. "My hope for the boys was seventh and sixth for the girls but it just didn't happen for us. Our top two girls (Simonsen and Barucci) just weren't feeling it. That kind of killed us there in not getting in better place but on a positive note, most of the girls did PR (set personal records) and the same thing on the boys side."
And Caron was more than happy with the team's 13-5 records on both the boys' and girls' sides, the highest finishes in school history.
"I was very pleased with the regular season, (13-5) is the best we've ever done," said Caron. "That was good and we're young on both the boys and girls sides, and all our varsity runners should return next year, so that's a big plus and we're starting to beat teams that we haven't beaten in the past before and that's awesome."
In the recent Southern Connecticut Conference championships at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Fairfield Prep placed fifth overall in the team standings with Jack McGowen placing 13th overall with a time of 16:49 over the 5-kilometer (2.98-mile) course to lead the Jesuits.
"We had some trouble winning close meets this season due to some injuries and trying to be conservative with kids," said Prep coach Robert Ford. "The payoff was, we gave up some of the midseason to have kids that were really ready to go at the end of the season."
Like Andy Thane, who finished 29th in the SCC meet (17:39), was bothered by a hamstring injury for most of the season and George Crist (who finished 16th overall at 17:04) missed almost nine months last year battling a lower leg injury.
I thought we ran pretty well in the SCC meet," Ford said. "A lot of the kids personal bests for the season, they were competitive and I told them that I'd been waiting all season for the Prep cross country team to show up and this was the meet (they did). We're generally a pretty tough, competitive group but we just had some injuries."