2019 H.S. boys' and girls' cross country preview capsules

BOYS

ECC Division I

East Lyme

Coach: Sam Harfenist (12th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Chris Abbey, So. Luke Anthony, Jr. Fisher Macklin, Jr. Ben Rukundo, Jr. Magnum Brandt.

Top newcomers: Fr. Brendan Fant, Fr. Ted Berman, So. Noah Krishnaswami.

Outlook: The Vikings are coming off back-to-back ECC and Class MM state championships, but must replace a pair of important runners, Class MM champion Sam Whittaker (The Day's All-Area Athlete of the Year) and Noah Barnhart (third in the ECC meet, eighth in Class MM). But Abbey, who won the ECC championship in 2018 and finished second in Class MM, returns along with Macklin, Rukundo and Anthony. East Lyme will have to develop some depth, but they are the team to beat in Division I and should challenge for conference and state titles once again.

 

Fitch

Coach: Rich Kosta (8th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Ajia Brown, Sr. Cole Aristi, Jr. Ben Chidley, Jr. Simon Chidley, So. Carson Riley.

Top newcomer: So. Raj Bokiria.

Outlook: The Falcons, who went 6-3 a year ago and had a strong third-place finish in the ECC championship meet, were hit hard by graduation, losing three four-year varsity performers in Ryan Poe, Ian Poe and Dan Gaiewski. However, Brown, Aristi and the Chidley brothers were consistent varsity performers in 2018, and Kosta has been impressed with sophomores Riley and Bokiria. Kosta is confident Fitch can duplicate last year's ECC finish despite competing in a difficult division.

NFA

Coach: Jaclyn Sullivan (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. Aidan Brown, Jr. Peyton Ramsey, Sr. Digby Ludlow, Sr. Dylan McGuire, So. Tyler Crabb.

Top newcomers: Jr. Timothy Jencks, So. Wyatt Gahrman, Sr. Jaden Seroussi.

Outlook: Sullivan takes over for Chad Johnson, who left to revive the Mitchell College men's and women's cross country programs, and welcomes a veteran cast. The Wildcats return five of their top seven runners from 2018 and expect to challenge defending champion East Lyme for Division I and ECC championship honors. Brown, Ramsey and McGuire were top 10 finishers in the ECC meet while Ludlow and Crabb give NFA a potent top five. Sullivan is also curious to see which of her newcomers step up to push the top five.

ECC Division II

Ledyard

Coach: Tim Strong (2nd season)

Key returnees: Sr. Simon Reichert, Sr. Jacob Roediger, Jr. Christopher Evans, Jr. Nicholas Smith, So. Albert Franck, So. Nicholas Johanson, So. Connor Doran.

Top newcomers: Sr. Daniel Donovan, Sr. Juan Garcia, Fr. Johabian Preciado.

Outlook: The Colonels return virtually their entire cast from a year ago, when they finished 7-2. Strong said Ledyard will be deeper this fall as Garcia returns after taking a year off and Donovan has had a strong preseason. Evans and Johanson are competing for the No. 1 spot with Doran also in the mix. The Colonels expect to compete for an ECC Division II title and a top-five finish in Class M.

Stonington

Coach: Jeff Parkinson (1st season)

Key returnees: Jr. Nate Gonzalez, Sr. Dan Robinson, Sr. Filip Aubrecht, Jr. Nikhil Desai, Jr. Aiden Turner, Jr. John Cunningham, Sr. Ian Sanok, Sr. Jacob Cannon.

Top newcomers: Jr. Hartmut Doerwaldt, Fr. Ryan Gruczka.

Outlook: Parkinson, the highly successful indoor and outdoor track and field coach at Stonington, takes over the cross country program. The Bears went 6-6 a year, but Parkinson believes Stonington has the depth and experience to battle for a Division II championship and be competitive in the postseason.

Waterford

Coach: Chris Gamble (12th season)

Key returnees: Jr. Aidan Pepin, Sr. Bryce Doruna, Sr. Kody Dow, Sr. Kris Dow, Sr. Owen Seltzer.

Top newcomers: Sr. Adam Stewart, So. Colin Crump.

Outlook: The Lancers must replace ECC all-star Sam Lenes, but return a veteran team led by another ECC all-star in Pepin, who placed fourth in last year's ECC championship meet and will be among the region's top runners. Waterford has the ability to contend for the Division II title and Gamble is hoping the Lancers will continue to improve and peak for the postseason.

ECC Division III

Montville

Coach: Steve LaBranche (4th season)

Key returnees: So. Ranju Iyer, Sr. Sean Ventresca, Sr. Chase Swinburne, Sr. Nathan Bedingfield, Sr. Adam Pomerenke, Jr. Alex Edwards, Jr. Lenny Szczygiel, Jr. Shenphen Yeshi.

Top newcomers: Sr. Kole Thurston, Fr. Jack Ventresca, Fr. Alex Pomerenki.

Outlook: The Indians graduated a pair of ECC Division III all-stars in Rishi Iyer and Jayden Colon, but LaBranche is intrigued by Montville's mix of experience and youth. Ranju Iyer is primed to take over the No. 1 spot with a tight pack of upperclassmen providing depth led by captains Sean Ventresca and Swinburne. The Indians should be competitive within the division and capable of another top 10 finish at the ECC meet.

St. Bernard

Coach: Bill Schwarzenbach (5th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Toby Xu, Sr. Sean Power, Sr. Liam Power, Sr. James Babinski, Jr. Jack Zachem, Jr. Brendan Hird, Jr. Andrew Graves.

Top newcomer: Fr. Umberti Likollari.

Outlook: The Saints return five of their top seven runners from a year ago and expect to make some noise in Division III. Xu, Sean Power and Babinski have been the top three runners in preseason and Schwarzenbach has been pleased with the progress of Hird and Graves, who were hampered by injuries as sophomores.

ECC Division IV

Wheeler

Coach: Marc Tardiff (18th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Joe Biggs, Sr. Michael Carroll, Sr. Cam Reyes, Jr. Sean Boldt, Jr. Ben Dobley, Jr. Aiden Rauthbun, Jr. John Tillinghast, Jr. Ruy Fernandez-Autran, So. Michael O'Gara, So. David Anderson.

Top newcomers: Fr. Evan Browne, Fr. Nathaniel Dobley.

Outlook: The Lions are coming off a 4-4 season but should be competitive in Division IV with the return of all their top runners from 2018. Carroll, the team captain, is expected to lead Wheeler while Reyes and Ben Dobley look to push their leader. Tardiff said if the Lions can develop a stronger group in the 4-5-6-7 positions, Wheeler should have a successful season.

Others

Grasso Tech

Coach: Matt Zagura (7th year)

Key returnees: Sr. Matthew Riegert, Jr. Ben Srednicki, Sr. Alex Potochniak.

Outlook: Zagura expects the Eagles to be competitive in the Connecticut Technical Conference and make some noise in the Class S meet as well.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Catherine Sikorski (2nd season)

Key returnee: So. Dylan Rice.

Top newcomers: Fr. Cody Crancy, Fr. Luis Matos, Fr. Mason McCord, Jr. Jay Morse, Fr. Jay Podziewzki, Fr. Eric Stanford, Fr. Will Tardif.

Outlook: The Warriors are young, but the future looks bright with the addition of seven freshman. Sikorski is "looking forward to long-term improvement and being competitive" in the Connecticut Technical Conference.

Old Lyme

Coach: Barb O'Leary (30th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Trevor Wells, Sr. Evan St. Louis.

Outlook: Despite some key losses, O'Leary still expects the Wildcats to be competitive within the Shoreline Conference.

Williams

Coach: Greg Bowerman (13th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Hunter Dolphin, So. Philip Knowlton.

Top newcomers: Jr. Jackson Meisner, Fr. Jackson Raisbeck, Jr. Zheng Lian.

Outlook: The Blues will be young and must replace Hartmut Doerwaldt, last year's No. 1 runner. But Dolphin and Knowlton were part of last year's CISAC and SENE title teams and Bowerman expects some of his newcomers to step up and provide depth.

 

GIRLS

ECC Division I

East Lyme

Coach: Mike Flynn (4th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Samantha Lyster, Sr. Gilly Goodwin, Jr. Brie Am Ende, Jr. Madison Sjostrom, So. Syd Sager.

Top newcomers: Fr. Izzy Pazzaglia, Fr. Kennedy Holsapple, Fr. Mannat Kadian, Jr. Julia Dewey, Sr. Darya Mikusova, Jr. Belle Johnson

Outlook: The Vikings, led by captains Lyster and Goodwin, return all five runners from last year's team, which won the ECC Division I title, the ECC championship meet and placed fourth in the Class M state meet. All five runners also placed among the top 16 in the ECC meet and Sjostrom went on to qualify for the State Open. Flynn is also thrilled to welcome 21 new runners to the program and credits his captains for creating interest. Some will push the veterans, which should make the Vikings stronger as they build toward the postseason.

Fitch

Coach: Shawn Towne (25th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Gabby Cardona, Sr. Emma Smith, Sr. Ava Paprocki.

Outlook: The Falcons, who went 7-2 a year ago in a difficult division, must develop some depth, but Towne expects to see Fitch improve as the season progresses and better last year's ninth-place finish in the ECC meet.

NFA

Coach: Kara Kochanski-Vendola (13th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Emma Grace Ricketts, Sr. Madison Martin, Sr. Paige Martin, Jr. Catie Shannon, Sr. Sydney Martin, Jr. Tessa Hospod, So. Sophia Jones, Jr. Makayla Kelly, Sr. Angela Ni.

Top newcomers: Fr. Eliana Duclos, Fr. Anna Gosselin, Fr. Gabriella Krzyweski, Fr. Delaney Phelps, Fr. Anna Ricketts, Jr. Emma Browning.

Outlook: Despite the graduation of Eve Buckridge, the Wildcats return an experienced group of seniors that will keep them competitive in ECC Division I and in the postseason. Kochanski-Vendola also welcomes a group of talented young athletes who have the availability to step in and impact NFA's success this fall.

ECC Division II

Ledyard

Coach: Denise Descheneaux (3rd year)

Key returnees: Sr. Ally Tran, So. Katherine Harren, So. Victoria Schweitzer, Sr. Emma Chin.

Top newcomer: So. Clare Inyang.

Outlook: The Colonels, who went 7-2 in dual meets a year ago, have a small team this fall, but plenty of experience as they look to make some noise in Division II. Tran had a top 20 finish (17th) in last year's ECC meet.

Stonington

Coach: Jeff Parkinson (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. Lily Anderson, Sr. Mary Gray, So. Chloe Morehouse, So. Maddie Hamm, Sr. Abby Remmert.

Top newcomers: Jr. Sasha Oakes, So. Lauren Goebel, Fr. Bobbie Doherty.

Outlook: Parkinson takes over a program that shared the Division II title with Bacon Academy, placed fifth at the ECC meet and seventh in Class SS. Anderson, who finished 10th in the ECC meet, is back to lead an experienced group that expects to compete for another Division II title and peak in time for the postseason meets.

Waterford

Coach: Chris Gamble (12th season)

Top newcomers: Fr. Gabby Brennan, Fr. Avery Pepin, Jr. Sarah Johnson, Jr. Sophie Marcille, Jr. Tallah Ryan, Jr. Alicia Sanders.

Outlook: The Lancers, who finished second in the division last year, will rely on a cast of newcomers to lead them this fall, but Gamble said Waterford's overall numbers are better. He is still waiting for one of his young runners to step up and lead the pack, but he's hopeful the Lancers will be improve as the season progresses.

ECC Division III

Montville

Coach: Steve LaBranche (4th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Lexi Peck, Jr. Maddie Gould, Jr. Lindsey Beavan, Jr. Felica Bower.

Top newcomers: Fr. Maya Suarez, Fr. Jaisey Gauvin.

Outlook: Mady Whittaker, a three-time all-state performer and The Day's All-Area Athlete of the Year, has departed after leading the Indians to a Division III title. Gould, an ECC all-star who placed 11th in the ECC meet, returns with Peck (19th) and Beavan to lead the team in its title defense, and freshmen Suarez and Gauvin are expected to occupy two of the top five varsity spots.

St. Bernard

Coach: Juli Bassett (4th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Brigid Kunka, Sr. Hope Geise, Jr. Serena Britner, Jr. Rachel Kunka, So. Lillian Turner, So. Anna Graul, So. Oliva Busher.

Top newcomer: Fr. Phoebe Foley.

Outlook: Expectations are high at St. Bernard, where the Saints return their top six runners from a team that finished fifth in the Class S state meet a year ago. They will be led by Brigid Kunka, a Class S all-state pick who finished fourth in the ECC meet and had a strong indoor and outdoor track season. Britner and Turner help give St. Bernard a solid 1-2-3 punch. Bassett expects the Saints to compete for the ECC Division III title, crack the top five in the ECC meet and better last year's performance in Class S.

Division IV

Wheeler

Coach: Shannon Curioso (2nd season)

Key returnees: Jr. Miranda Pabst, Sr. Kristiana Ram, Sr. Bridget Riggins.

Top newcomers: Fr. Lulu Dominey, Fr. Lucy Smith, Fr. Maddy O'Gara, Fr. Annalee Lorimer, Jr. Laura Roberts, Jr. Juel Anderson, Sr. Kyla MacDonald.

Outlook: The Lions are the reigning Division IV champion and return a solid cast, including ECC all-stars Ram and Riggins. Curioso is particularly excited about a strong freshman class, which will complement her veteran runners. "The team has been putting in hard work since the season began and is excited to see the payoff at our meets," Curioso said.

Others

Grasso Tech

Coach: Matt Zagura (1st year)

Key returnees: So. Jewels Walker, Sr. August Brown

Top newcomer: Fr. Aspen Frink.

Outlook: The Eagles need to improve their depth, but Zagura expects Grasso Tech to be a competitive team in the Connecticut Technical Conference.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Catherine Sikorski (2nd season)

Top newcomer: So. Hailey McGuirl.

Outlook: The Warriors can't field a complete team, but Sikorski is anxious to see how McGuirl fares in the Connecticut Technical Conference after coming off a solid track season as a freshman.

Old Lyme

Coach: Barb O'Leary (30th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Faith Caulkins, Sr. Sammy Owen, Sr. Emily Speckhals.

Outlook: Despite some key losses, O'Leary still expects the Wildcats to be competitive within the Shoreline Conference.

Williams

Coach: Greg Bowerman (13th season)

Key returnees: Sr. Katlin Burzin, Jr. Mary Madaus, So. Grace Cassineri.

Top newcomers: Jr. Anna Terry, Jr. Vaishnavi Ladd.

Outlook: The Blues will be led by Madaus, an All-New England performer, and Burzin, a three-year varsity performer. Cassineri will join those two to give Williams a solid 1-2-3 punch, and Bowerman will rely on newcomers to step up in varsity roles.

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