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East Lyme sweeps Waterford in cross country, with both ringing up the mileage

East Lyme — Sean Corman, a Waterford High School senior and the winner of Monday's boys' cross country race, is in the midst of a stretch of four races in eight days, cramming in opportunities to compete in a season in which those occasions — with a number of stops and starts due to the coronavirus — can be fleeting.

How do Corman's legs feel?

"They feel good now that we're done with the race," Corman said with a laugh.

"It's tough. Our schedule got compacted. Now we've got four meets in (eight) days. We have another one Wednesday against Fitch. It's fun to get a lot of races in but it's tough on the legs."

"It's definitely hard with nothing in between (Saturday's dual meet and Monday's)," East Lyme senior Fisher Macklin said. "I ran (Sunday) for a few minutes to loosen up, but it's definitely hard, really hard to go two days in a row."

Corman, in his first cross country season, previously playing soccer, won his race in 17 minutes, 2 seconds, and East Lyme freshman Izzy Paggioli finished first in the girls' race in 20:51 at Rocky Neck State Park, where part of the course runs along the beach in picturesque fashion.

East Lyme swept the team competition to remain unbeaten on the boys' and girls' sides at 3-0, despite coming off a three-week break due to a two-week shutdown after several COVID-19 cases were discovered at East Lyme High School.

The Vikings, who last competed Oct. 3, returned with a boys' and girls' dual meet sweep Saturday against Stonington before coming back with Monday's victories against Waterford.

The East Lyme boys, the three-time Class MM state champion headed into this year, beat Waterford 25-36, while the East Lyme girls, already the four-time Eastern Connecticut Conference champion before adding Paggioli to the top of the pyramid, topped Waterford 15-49.

The Vikings finished one through six in the girls' meet, with Paggioli followed by Kennedy Holsapple, Syd Sager, Brie am Ende, Madison Sjostrom and Izzy Pazzaglia. Waterford's Sarah Johnson was seventh.

"Normally I would tell them to be smart," East Lyme boys' and girls' coach Mike Flynn said of the racing frenzy that this week will be, culminating with the ECC meet on Nov. 4 with three separate divisions.

"But because of the way the season is ... they can handle it, the way our training is, they have enough mileage to be able to handle it. It's not ideal, but they need to compete at this point. We're past the point where 'we're just going to run tactically and try to win.' All things considered, I think they ran great on both sides."

Paggioli is a diminutive presence at the top of the Vikings' lineup. Flynn points out that she came to the high school never having won a middle school race at the Salem School because of the talent she was surrounded by. He thought she might run fourth or fifth for the high school team.

"I knew who she was," Flynn said. "She's running way better than in middle school. After the first few workouts I knew, 'This girl is running at a different level.' I think she's very determined. She's quiet and very kind when you talk to her. Then she's in a race and you can tell from her face she's competitive."

"The team was really welcoming," Paggioli said. "They made it feel like middle school except for the competition. They're very supportive and nice. I like high school."

After Corman and Waterford teammate Aidan Pepin in the top two spots, East Lyme runners finished third through 10th with Macklin, Griffith Posgay, Ben Rukundo, Nate Bergman and Ilyas Syed leading the way. East Lyme's No. 1 runner, junior Luke Anthony, did not compete Monday but was present at Rocky Neck to cheer on his teammates.

"There's just a lot of stuff going on," East Lyme's Macklin said in describing the year. "Not having track last year (in the spring) just threw me off. The two weeks off wasn't very nice. All of us are good friends; it's hard not to be with them."

Macklin said the Vikings will miss working toward the state meet, which has been canceled due to the coronavirus. Also due to the virus, head coach Sam Harfenist, at the helm for the three state titles, has taken the year off.

"So many things that make the year so different," Macklin said. "There's a lot going on that makes it so different."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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