The cross-country teams at Glastonbury High School celebrated Senior Day by dominating the trails at JB Williams Park, as both the boy and girls teams handily defeated Conard and Hall in a tri-school meet on Sept. 20.
Running in their only home meet of the season, the local teams did not disappoint as the girls had the top nine finishes and the boys had three of the top five around the 2.7 mile course that runs within the local park.
Sophomore Brooke Strauss (17:15) won the girls’ race. Following Strauss were teammates Lucy Bergin (17:23), Jackie Dudas (17:31), Kelley MacElhiney (17:44), Lila Garbett (17:46), Ava Gattinella (18:10), Mikayla Nedder (18:46), Ramajana Skopic (18:49), and Jocelyn Wolf (19:16).
“We were really motivated,” MacElhiney said of the team’s mentality prior to the meet. “We just had to push through one last time and make it our best and make it memorable.”
Prior to the race, the team did a walkthrough of the course to prepare. For the seniors, it was their last time to enjoy the course together.
“It was a moment to cherish all that we have. For a lot of us, it’s a culmination of four years,” said Wolf, who said the course walk inspired the entire team. “It put us in a mindset to make our last race here count and to take it all in.”
Girls’ head coach Brian Collins said the event was special for several reasons, including honoring the ten seniors on his roster.
“For these athletes, especially for the seniors, this is a big day for them,” Collins said. “We are fortunate to have a beautiful day for it and they ran really well.”
Harrison Krause won the boys’ race, running a personal-best 14:15, holding off runner-up William Lanchaster of Avon by seven seconds. Krause’s effort was good enough to crack the school’s top ten list of best times run at the course.
“I was trying to save some stuff for the end of the race, so I’d be strong for the finish. I put everything in,” recalled Krause. “I had the Avon kid pushing me the entire time and I knew if I put everything in that I’ve got I would come out with a good time.”
Head coach Mark Alexander said that Krause has made significant strides over the years and his hard work is paying off, adding, “Each year he’s had a goal and he’s gotten a little bit stronger and better every season.”
GHS Cameron Colletti (15:08) placed 3rd and Dominic Pena (15:24) placed 5th, each running personal-time times.
Pena wore red sunglasses while running, soaking up the special day in style.
“I was really feeling it today. I thought why not bust them out,” Pena said of the shades. “I was super excited for Senior Day and you feel all the hype and energy. I was ready to get out on the course and tear it up.”
Crawford Cauthen (8th/16:03), Troy Gianccone (10th/16:13), Alexander Howard (13th/16:31) rounded out the top six boys to cross the finish line.
***Girls Eyeing States***
Following a Class LL title and a runner-up finish at the State Open last fall, the Guardians are primed for another banner push this fall.
Bergin, MacElhiney, Wolf, and Jackie Caron are the team’s senior captains.
Caron was injured for the Senior Day meet, yet was involved with preparing her teammates for the race and helped keep track of the finishing times.
“We are family,” Caron said of the seniors. “We all joined cross country at different times, but now we are so close and have been through a lot together.”
Bergin said that the competition in practice helps fuel the team during meets, adding, “A lot of our team is really close time-wise, so we can use each other to push each other during workouts and in races.”
“They’ve learned how to push each other,” Collins said of his seniors. “You could be best friends in the world before the workout and after the workout, but during the workout that is your competition. We are very fortunate that we have athletes that are talented throughout our whole team.”
Collin’s team will now look to finish the regular season strong, before attempting to defend their Class LL title and potentially capture the program’s first State Open since 2017.
***Boys Blending Experience and Youth ***
Last fall, the boys placed 6th at the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) championships before placing top-ten at the Class LL finals.
With a strong senior class leading a group of up-and-coming runners, the Guardians look to be in position for another strong finish.
“Overall the whole team is excited,” Alexander said. “They are getting along well, they are working hard, and it seems like this group is really gelling now.”
Krause, Colletti, and Pena are captaining the team.
Colletti said he and the team put in a lot of work during the summer, preparing for their cross country curtain call.
“We worked together really well,” Colletti said of the seniors, who have made it a priority to bestow their knowledge on the next generation. “We try to set an example for them during stretches and warm-ups and make sure they are getting all the information they need.”
Including managers, the team has 11 seniors this fall.
Pena said of the seniors, “We’ve grown a lot closer over the years and definitely proud of that.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin