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Norwich - East Lyme High School took a significant step toward winning its first Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title by knocking off Norwich Free Academy, the defending champion, on Wednesday at Mohegan Park.
The Vikings rode their experience to a 27-29 win.
"Experience was the difference," East Lyme coach Sam Harfenist said. "My top four have been around for awhile. ... We looked back at the archives and I don't think we've actually beaten (NFA) since the early 90's, if not the late 80's.
"It's a pretty big day for us as a team. Hopefully, we're on our way to achieving a goal."
NFA's Kyle Liang finished first in 17 minutes, 45 seconds.
East Lyme's Ben Ostrowski (third, 17:50), Jon Combies (fourth, 17:56) and Scott Butler (fifth, 17:59) scored valuable points.
Butler used a strong kick in the last 400 meters to pass two NFA runners. NFA's Tyler Scholes was sixth (18:04) and teammate Niceforo Reyes placed seventh (18:06) while East Lyme's Tim Meyers was eighth (18:11).
"It was definitely close," NFA coach Chad Johnson said. "I was really happy with how the guys ran up and down the ranks. ... On paper, coming in, I thought they were the better team."
East Lyme (5-0, 3-0) and NFA (4-1, 2-1) will battle again in the ECC Championship, which counts toward deciding the final conference standings.
"They won this round but we're considering it a year-long battle," Johnson said. "They can enjoy it now but we're coming after them at the ECC meet."
In other team scores, NFA defeated Windham (21-40) and Plainfield (17-45). East Lyme beat Windham (21-40) and Plainfield (17-44). Plainfield topped Windham, 27-28.
In other meets:
• Ledyard placed three runners in the top five and beat St. Bernard 26-29 in a nonleague meet and Waterford 15-50 in the ECC Medium Division. Connor Gralton of St. Bernard won the race with a time of 17:29 and teammate Ryan Londregan was fourth as the Saints (4-1) beat Waterford 15-50. Tyler Torelli was second, Bryce Hedman was third and Max Armstrong finished fifth for Ledyard (4-0, 2-0). Dan Clark was the top finisher for Waterford (0-4, 0-3), coming in 14th.
• Norwich Tech took the top four spots en route to an 18-41 win over Grasso Tech in a Constitution State Conference meet. Aaron Pelletier won with a time of 18:22 and was followed by teammates Chris Plympton, Carl Feder-Craney and Mike Froscello. Grasso Tech's top finisher was Mack Foster.
• Chris Ivimey of Williams School finished second in a six-team race at Providence Country Day, covering the 5k course in 17:59. Also finishing in the top 10 from Williams were Ben Lahm (third), Justin Shafner (fifth), Adam Verhoeff (sixth) and Brien Bradley (seventh). Maddie Lahm of Williams won the girls' race, winning the 5K race in 21L10. Teammate Sarena Shafner finished fifth.
• Brianna Lenehan beat reigning ECC champion Kerri Ruffo of Plainfield by nearly a minute as NFA remained unbeaten by sweeping the Panthers (22-35), Windham (15-50) and Large Division rival East Lyme (18-43). Lenehan finished in 19:34 over her home course, beating Ruffo by 58 seconds. Alyssa Field finished third for NFA (5-0, 2-0) while Kirsten Thompson placed fourth for the Vikings (1-4, 0-3), who lost to Plainfield (22-35) but beat Windham (15-50).
• Jordan Houdeshell finished first in 20:13, pacing Ledyard past St. Bernard, 23-33, and ECC Medium Division foe Waterford, 23-34. Heather Wallace placed third (22:29) and Corri Meehan sixth (22:51) for St. Bernard, which beat Waterford, 26-31. Sara-Caitrin Mandelburg took second (21:33) and Jeannette Mooney (22:33) was fourth for the Lancers.
• Norwich Tech's Kat Bauman won the race in a time of 28:20, leading the Warriors to a 15-50 win over Grasso Tech in a CSC meet. Jen Martin of Grasso Tech was second.