Xavier wins 6th straight SCC boys cross country title behind Eamon Burke’s individual title

NEW HAVEN — Xavier senior Eamon Burke entered the SCC championship boys cross country race with a simple game plan, as did the rest of his Falcons teammates, and it paid off.

Despite a tough challenge from Nikita Omelchenko of Wilbur Cross the first half of the 3.1-mile race, Burke pulled away the last mile and cruised to a win in 15 minutes, 35.2 seconds. Amity senior Mason Beaudette was second in 15:58.2 and Hand senior Jack O’Keefe was third in 16:14.8.

Xavier won the SCC cross country team title for the sixth straight year with 52 points. Hand was second with 73 points and Guilford third with 82.

“Our coach (Chris Stonier) is a genius,” Burke said. “He keeps things simple and at the same time he motivates you. He told us today to just run confident, don’t worry about the other runners and we just had to believe it, believe what we were capable of accomplishing.

“This individual win means a lot, especially since my previous PR was 16:03. But it means even more to contribute to the team title. For us to win this for the sixth straight time is special.”

At the halfway point of the race, Omelchenko and Burke were running hard side-by-side. A few hundred yards past that point Omelchenko dropped out, leaving Burke alone as he pulled away.

Omelchenko, a senior, did not comment after the race, only to say that he felt fine. Wilbur Cross coach Travis Gale also said he was fine.

“Just past the halfway point I heard Nikita say something, but I couldn’t make it out,” Burke said. “I looked back and he was nowhere behind me, he was gone. The first half of the race we both worked off each other. It was a great challenge and he was really pushing me.”

Stonier said Xavier’s consistent success is due to a process.

“When we practice, the coaches talk about the importance of being focused, building character and building skills,” Stonier said. “So many different things can happen in a race. We talk about the things we can control. You focus on your race and you don’t talk about the other runners.

“Eamon ran a great race today. He is an incredibly coachable athlete. He listens to all the coaches and he is tremndously tough and resilient. Hand and Guilford have great teams and we knew they would be a tough chellenge. Our team win today is the result of our depth, everyone contributed. This is a good springboard to the state meets.”


at New Haven

Team results: 1. Xavier 52, 2. Hand 73, 3. Guilford 82, 4. Amity 143, 5. Shelton 147, 6. Cheshire 176, 7. Wilbur Cross 178, 8. Fairfield Prep 231, 9. Notre Dame-West Haven 251, 10. Branford 276, 11. Foran 290, 12. Sheehan 358,13. North Haven 359, 14. Law 364, 15. Lyman Hall 375, 16. West Haven 412, 17. Hamden 440, 18. Hillhouse 553.

Individuals: 1. Eamon Burke (Xavier) 15:35.2, 2. Mason Beaudette (Amity) 15:58.2, 3. Jack O’Keefe (Hand) 16:14.8, 4. Brody Santagata (Xavier) 16:19, 5. Angel Perez (Fairfield Prep) 16:25.6, 6. Harrison Grenier (Hand) 16:31.6, 7. Michael Masotti (Guilford) 16:35.8, 8. Parker Paragas (Amity) 16:38.4, 9. Nick Montana (Hand) 16:41.8, 10. Tyler Caron (Cheshire) 16:43.2, 11. Sebastian Halpern (Wilbur Cross) 16:44.4, 12. Danny Hilmer (Hand) 16:48.2, 13. Justin Shiffrin (Guilford) 16:48.2, 14. Joshua Lesniak (Xavier) 16:50.9, 15. Alex Hansen (Guilford) 16:54.2, 16. Jacob Kirejczyk (Xavier) 17:02.7, 17. Alex Ushchak (Xavier) 17:04.2, 18. Sam Simko (Xavier) 17:05.9, 19. William Rodrigues (Shelton) 17:08.5, 20. Ryan Franchi (Guilford) 17:11.5, 21. Liam Fedigan (Law) 17:11.9, 22. Luke Pacheco (Shelton) 17:13.2, 23. Devin Rodriguez (Notre Dame-West Haven) 17:14.8, 24. Jayden Opper (Shelton) 17:17.3, 25. Wolf Boone (Wilbur Cross) 17:25.