NEW CANAAN — The Ridgefield boys cross country team followed through on its status as a favorite when it captured the FCIAC Central Region championship on Wednesday.
In fact, the biggest obstacle between the Tigers and a title likely came off the course during the past two weeks.
“On Friday, we didn’t think we’d be allowed to race,” senior Chuckie Namiot said, referring to Ridgefield schools having shifted to remote learning in late October, putting all sports teams on the sidelines. “We were out all of last week and got back to school on Monday. Everything’s been changing really fast, so it meant a lot to actually get here.”
With seniors Charlie King and Namiot taking the top two places, Ridgefield claimed the Central championship with 23 points, in the final boys race of the day in New Canaan’s Waveny Park.
King won the 5K race in 16:09.8, with Namiot hot on his heels in second place at 16:11.2.
The Tigers placed six runners in the top 10 to beat out Staples, last year’s overall FCIAC champion, for the East crown. The Wreckers scored 43, followed by Wilton in third with 78.
The top five individual runners included Wilton’s Davis Cote (16:28.3) third, Staples’ Dillon Harding (16:30.1) fourth, and Ridgefield’s Liam Carcich (16:32.8) fifth.
The FCIAC cross country championships certainly had a different look this year, as COVID safety measures led to regional divisions for the finals. Six varsity races were held — boys and girls events in all three divisions — and no spectators were allowed for an event which usually packs Waveny Park.
However, the course was the same, which made the time posted by Westhill senior Colin McLaughlin in the opening race all the more impressive.
McLaughlin covered the 5K course in 15:36.8, the fastest time of the day by 33 seconds, while winning the FCIAC West title. McLaughlin finished more than a minute ahead of New Canaan’s Luca Palamenti, who was second in 16:58.0.
“I got out to a quick start and then basically did exactly what I wanted to do,” McLaughlin said. “I went to the mile at like 4:50 and then kept going pretty hard. I felt fine and it was a good race.”
McLaughlin led a solid effort for the Vikings, who finished third with 50 points. Westhill placed four runners in the top 11, including Erik Lopez (17:43.1) in eighth, Tucker Healy (17:48.0) in ninth, and Andrew Hicks (17:49.1) in 11th.
“We have a lot of seniors on the team and this was our last race together, so it was good to have a pretty good showing,” McLaughlin said. “At one point I think we had three consecutive runners, which helps a lot.”
The Blue Wave, which had a perfect dual meet season at 5-0, claimed the East championship with 45 points, edging host New Canaan’s 46. Greenwich was fourth with 73, and Stamford fifth with 152.
Senior Lucas Madariaga led the Blue Wave with a third-place finish in 17:00.3, with juniors Evan O’Rourke fourth in 17:07.6, and Luke Riordan seventh in 17:41.3.
“Our boys did very well,” Darien assistant coach Rachid Sofiane said. “It was a long season for us and we worked really hard. We exposed them to some new training strategies, but collectively, they came together through a lot of meets and worked hard and it showed throughout the season and today.”
“We’ve put in so much work over the season so it’s really nice to see just how good our depth is, and get the fruits of our labor today,” Madariaga said. “Over the summer, every single one of us grinded hard and put in so much work. It just really paid off for every single one of us in the job we did this season.”
New Canaan’s Alessandro Malagoli also cracked the top five, finishing fifth in 17:10.4, and Greenwich’s top showing came from senior David Levine, who was sixth in 17:32.3.
In the East race, Ludlowe’s Nathan Cramer took the top spot in 16:21.9, followed by Trumbull’s Joseph Gregory (16:53.2), Warde’s Joseph Callanan (17:05.4), Ludlowe’s Ethan Carty (17:13.3), and Warde’s Ethan Kohn (17:24.9) in the top five.
Trumbull won the East team title with 34 points, edging Warde (46) and Ludlowe (49) for the top spot.
“We went out really fast and it was me and Bronson Vo from Trumbull out front and then he fell back a little bit and after that I was running alone,” Cramer said. “So I just had to keep pushing myself. It was a 50-50 chance we were going to have a season, so I’m really happy that it worked out the way it did, we got to race and I got to see where I was.”
Ridgefield then closed out the afternoon with the one-two punch of King and Namiot leading the drive.
After Carcich in fifth, Ridgefield’s scoring included Benjamin Mikool (16:44.8) in seventh, and Matthew McDonough (16:45.9) in eighth.
Both King and Namiot said training together has helped push them to stronger performances.
“Charlie and I have been best friends since sophomore year, so being able to train together and run together has been great,” Namiot said. “Most of the time we’re right around even in the pack like we were today. We can work together training over almost any distance so that’s meant a lot. We both have a really solid training partner.”
For the two seniors, Wednesday’s race marked the end of their time with Ridgefield cross country.
“It’s a little weird to have it sink in, but this is our last official cross country race of our entire high school careers,” King said. “As excited as we both are for our college experience and our careers there, it’s something we’re thinking about.
“Overall, this was a good effort, a fun race and a good way to close out our season.”
Please go to GametimeCT.com High School Sports to read full article.