Local roundup: Montville's Whittaker, Ledyard's King qualify for New England meet
Manchester — Zak King, the Ledyard High School senior, found himself going back and forth at Friday's State Open championship with Tolland's Killian McNamee, who beat King to win the Class M state boys' cross country individual title last week.
"He got me in the last 100 by, like, a meter," King said of Friday's latest matchup. "I think without him I wouldn't have qualified. ... We got to the finish line and I just kept asking people in front of me and behind me if we made it or not. I had a feeling that we had, but they don't tell you, you've got to guess."
King finished 22nd in the 3.1-mile State Open race at Wickham Park in 16 minutes, 44 seconds, one spot and one second behind McNamee, earning King a trip to the New England meet next week in Belfast, Maine. He will be joined by fellow Eastern Connecticut Conference runner Mady Whittaker of Montville, who was 16th in the girls' race in 20:13.
The top 25 individuals and top six teams in each race qualified for the New England meet, where King and Whittaker will be making their first appearance in cross country (Whittaker has previously qualified in track).
Whittaker was the ECC cross country champion on Oct. 19 at Norwich Golf Course and fifth last week in Class SS (20:29). King was second in the ECC and second in Class M (16:47).
Both knew they would have to come out strong Friday, and even faster than last week, to reach their goal of earning a top 25 spot.
"Ever since the class meet, I've just been kind of thinking about it," King said. "I took it out a lot harder than I usually do ... the first mile was really fast."
"I was blessed to get it in track and I wanted to work really hard for it in cross country," Whittaker said. "Mentally, I had to just keep reminding myself this is what I worked for all season."
Both runners were also slowed earlier in the season with injuries. Whittaker suffered from pain in her hip.
"I wanted to have a really good comeback," she said. "For me (being injured) was really frustrating. I was kind of panicking about the end of the season. I think I was a little bit paranoid; confidence mentally is something all runners struggle with.
"... I didn't know if could get there (Friday). I had to put myself in a good position. I was in the 20s and the 30s for the first mile. I found myself in a pack of girls 21-25. I was panicking. It just comes down to picking off girls one by one. Oh, my gosh."
Fairfield Prep's Drew Thompson won the boys' race in 15:44 and Xavier claimed the team title on a tiebreaker with Staples (both had 61 points). Wilton's Morgan McCormick took the girls' race in 18:23 and Glastonbury was the team champ with 80.
In other another meet:
• Williams School won the SENE Championship boys' meet at St. Andrew's School in Barrington, R.I., while the Williams girls placed second and Mary Madaus captured individual honors on the 4K course with a time of 21:51.
The Blues won the boys' race with 34 points as Will Jarrett placed second in 18:43, Colin Madaus was fourth in 18:55, Hartmut Doerwaldt was fifth in 19:04, Hunter Dolphin was 10th in 20:206 and Philip Knowleton was 13th in 20:33.
The Williams girls finished with 40 points behind Madaus, Grace Cassineri (fifth, 24:02), Anna Terry (eighth, 26:30), Katie Burzin (11th, 27:00) and Carly Straub (16th, 28:13).
• Top-seeded Mitchell College advanced to the championship game of the New England Collegiate Conference tournament with a 3-1 semifinal victory over No. 5 Newbury College. The Mariners (8-8-1) will play in the final for the first time in program history and will host the winner of a Friday night match between No. 2 Lesley and No. 3 Elms at noon Sunday.
Andrew Storton scored a pair of goals for the Mariners while Jose Roman III of New London added a third goal and goalkeeper Seth Strader of Preston and Norwich Free Academy made seven saves. Storton scored in the ninth minute (Waterford's Eduardo Tineo assisted) to give Mitchell a 1-0 lead, Roman made it 2-0 just 10 minutes before the break and after Newbury cut the deficit to 2-1 with 25 minutes remaining, Storton scored seven minutes later with a scissor-kick shot after taking a pass from Wheeler's T.J. Condon. It was Storton's 11th goal of the season.
College field hockey
• Top-seeded UConn remained unbeaten with a 3-0 victory over host Providence in the Big East semifinals. The Huskies (18-0), ranked No. 1 in the nation, will play No. 2 Liberty in Sunday's championship match 1 p.m. UConn has won the last five Big East titles and is making its 15th straight trip to the final. Charlotte Veitner, Svea Boker and Amelia Iacobucci scored goals for the Huskies. Veitner's goal was her 28th, tops in the nation.
• Williams School rallied in the second half to salvage a 4-4 tie with St. Andrew's, clinching the No. 2 seed for the upcoming SENE tournament. The Blues will host No. 3 Rocky Hill (R.I.) in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Monday. Williams overcame a 4-1 halftime deficit as Grace Powell had one goal and two assists, Camryn Werbinski had one goal and one assist and Audrey Matson and Katia Bourganos each scored a goal. Goalie Olivia Guinan made 11 saves.
• Chasse Sodemann won the 100 breaststroke (58.17), 100 freestyle (48.94) and was part of two winning relays as Coast Guard Academy defeated host Wheaton 206-79. The Bears' 200 medley relay team of Patrick Jackson, Sodemann, Ross Garrett and Joe Rodriguez won in 1:35.40 while the 400 free relay of Sodemann, Jackson, Rodriguez and John Feller won in 3:15.01. Rowe added wins in the 500 frees (4:54.50) and 1,000 free (10:09.30) while Garrett won the 200 free (1:47.30) and 100 butterfly (53.00).
• Kristen Young won three events but Coast Guard lost to Wheaton 183-115. Young won the 50 freestyle (25.27), 200 frees (1:55.74) and 100 butterfly (1:00.02) for the Bears, while Sarah Passilla won the 100 free (54.14) and 200 IM (2:13.63) and Emily Benson the 500 free (5:17.30) and 1,000 free (1:02.05).
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