Fairfield Prep senior Christian Alvardo, of Fairfield, placed fourth at the New England Cross Country Championships on Nov. 9 at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H., the first time he failed to win a meet this season. He covered the five-kilometer (3.14 miles) course in 15 minutes and 16.9 seconds. He will run in the Northeast Regional meet on Nov. 30 in the Bronx, N.Y., where he'll have an opportunity to qualify for the National Championship meet in San Diego on Dec. 14.

Two of the three runners who beat him are rivals from Connecticut -- winner Trevor Hopper (15:08.5) from Ridgefield and runner-up Alex Ostberg (15:11.0), of Darien. Alvardo beat both on Nov. 1 in a three-way competition at the end to win the State Open at Wickham Park in Manchester, CT. On Oct. 26, Alvarado, the SCC champion, won the CIAC Class LL championship.

Fairfield Warde senior Cate Allen (18:17.3) placed 10th in the girls 5K race earlier on Nov. 9. Staples sophomore Hannah DeBalsi (17:15.8), the State Open champion, added the New England title to her list of accomplishments -- FCIAC champion, Class LL winner, undefeated regular season. Allen, who was sixth at the State Open, repeated as Class L champion on Oct. 26.

"We knew he might have a congestion problem at the start of the race," Prep coach Bob Ford of Alvarado. "He was worried about that. That's what happened." The top five finishers in the boys race each surpassed the course record.

"You cannot be one percent off in this type of race," Ford said. "In the last 400 meters, he looked more labored than usual. It didn't look like the Christian we usually see finish a race. It's difficult to say fourth place at the New Englands is a little disappointing but it is."

Still, Alvardo was in fifth place entering the final stretch and sprinted past Colin Tierney (15:17.1) from Bishop Hendricken, of Rhode Island, at the finish. Warde senior Aidan Fiol (15:56) placed 21st. Ridgefield was runner-up for the team title.