Newington’s Bohkle, Somers’ St. Germain top field in Wickham Invitational's return

MANCHESTER -- The Wickham Park Invitational returned Saturday, as many of the top runners in the state competed on the course for the first time since 2019.

Due to sizing limits, the structure of the 37th annual Invitational differed from previous races. Rather than large championship meets for the boys and girls, runners competed in small, medium and large school championships.

For the boys, the day’s top runner was Michael Bohlke. The Newington senior finished the course in 15:54 out of the large school championship, his first time breaking 16 minutes in cross country.

Rachel St. Germain of Somers had the best girls time, and was the only one to break 19 minutes with a time of 18:16 in the large school race.

North Kingston (Rhode Island), Avon and Hale Ray were the three winning teams in the boys races while Glastonbury, East Lyme and Bolton each claimed team championships for the girls.

Large races

The large boys race was highlighted by Michael Bohlke, who had the top time of all runners throughout the day.

“I came in and my goal was to finish under 16,” Bohlke said. “This is my first time running under 16 on a cross country course so the fact that I’m now five seconds under, I’m super happy about how today went.”

The second-place finisher clocked in 24 seconds after Bohlke.

“This is the season I’ve done the most mileage and it’s been paying off,” Bohlke said. “When I was going around the corner I locked in, as soon as the clock came into sight it was just eye contact.”

Wilbur Cross senior Nikita Omelchenko finished second in 16:18 while two New Hampshire runners finished third and fourth.

The team championship was won by North Kingston, Rhode Island, which edged out second-place Hall by 18 points.

“We’re super pumped,” Hall coach Jeff Billing said. “We have had this pack all year of top-10 guys. We’ve talked about running as a pack, and if you look at the results we had four guys finish in line.”

Isaac Mahler was Hall’s top finisher, coming in 11th overall at 17:02. He was followed by teammates Ethan Striff-Cave (21st), Joshua Burr (23rd), Liam Scully (24th) and Colin Goldschmidt(25th).

Somers’ St. Germain was the individual winner in the girls large race, clocking in at 18:16, nearly a minute before the next runner to cross the line.

“It feels unreal to have the top time of the day,” St. Germain said. “I try to set my goals realistically so I was just trying to stay in the top today. I had broken 19 minutes before on other courses but I was not expecting it on Wickham.”

Meg Madison from Winsor (Massachusetts) and Glastonbury’s Brooke Strauss (19:06) finished second and third.

Strauss’ effort helped lead Glastonbury as the girls big school team winners, beating out North Kingstown, Rhode Island, by 28 points.

Jacqueline Caron (12th overall), Ava Gattinella (14th), Jacqueline Dudus (25th) and Kelley MacElhiney (27th) all contributed to Glastonbury’s victory.

Medium races

In the boys medium race, Luke Anthony was the individual champion. The East Lyme senior finished in 16:03, which was the second-fastest time among all runners.

“Luke is a maniac,” East Lyme coach Mike Flynn said. “He is a nationally ranked triathlon, so this is the first time he has really focused on running. We had a plan of where he was going to make his move, and he made it and gapped the field pretty quickly. His fitness level is so high it’s hard to come back on him.”

Jack Martin was the second-place finisher with a time of 16:19, leading his Avon squad to first place in the medium school team rankings.

“We’re feeling pretty good, but we still have a little work to do,” Avon coach CJ Fusco said. “We would like our pack to get a little tighter and close that gap time a little bit. We’re happy with the result, but we know winning this with states coming up that we have a target on our backs.”

Carver Morgan finished second for Avon, and fourth overall with a time of 16:41.

“They’ve had a tremendous season,” Fusco said. “They’re both seniors and have worked super hard. It’s great to have kids with that talent.”

On the girls side, it was Tolland senior Petyon Bornstein who claimed first place individually in 19:36.

She narrowly edged out Suffield’s Emily Brydges (19:40) and Bacon Academy’s Jordan Malloy (19:43).

“My dad was screaming a lot, which helped,” Bornstein said. “But I also just wanted it a lot. It’s amazing to be a winner here, I’ve run this course since middle school so it feels great to come back and win.”

The medium girls team winner was East Lyme, also coached by Flynn. Despite no top-10 finishes, the team beat out second-place Tolland by a total of 47 points.

“We have a very young and inexperienced team,” Flynn said. “Our girls, only one of them had ever run on this course as a freshman. It was exciting to get a state meet preview, and the energy of this place is always great.”

The lone experienced runner was 11th-place finisher Izzy Paggioli. The sophomore finished in 20:53.

“Izzy’s great, she’s only a sophomore,” Flynn said. “Last year we only had dual meets so I wanted to see how she would respond to big meets, and when she finished she said she loved this course. That’s good because every important race of her career will be here.”

Small races

Sean Kennedy-Wonneb was the individual winner in the early slotted small school races, and helped lead Hale Ray to a team win as well.

Kennedy-Wonneb finished in 16:34, and was followed by second-place finisher and teammate Micahel Kraszewski in 17:15.

Matthew Kraszewski (13th overall), Talo Ciccarello (14th), and Griffin Kelly (41st) rounded out the top Hale Ray runners.

The girls individual winner was Megan Minicucci of Bolton. The senior finished the course in 19:58, the only one to break 20 minutes in the small school race.

Abby Souza and Julia Cressotti finished second and third out of Newton Country Day in Massachusetts. Immaculate’s Kayla Ondy had the second-best Connecticut time in the race, finishing in 20:33.

The winning team for the girls small school race was Newton Country day, but the top-finished Connecticut team was second-place Bolton, bolstered by Minicucci’s first-place finish.

Taylor Michaud finished second for Bolton and 11th overall with at time of 22:12.