Cross country preview: Girls look for encore; Brown leads boys
Coming off a state-championship winning season, the Wilton High girls cross country team finds itself navigating a thin line between more success and a step backwards.
“We’re a good team, but we’re thin,” said head coach Jeff Gee. “One injury to a top runner could really hurt us this year.”
Meanwhile, the Wilton High boys cross country team enters the season with one state champion runner and lots of newcomers.
“Spencer Brown is back, but nearly all of the other top people from last year have graduated,” said Gee. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.”
The Wilton girls team won the Class L state title last fall and also finished fifth at both the FCIAC and State Open meets. But two of the top-five runners (Alex Fiesel and Alosha Southern) have graduated, and Casey Chase, a senior who was expected to have a bigger role in 2013, is injured and may not compete.
The Warriors, though, are far from barren. Seniors Sarah Healy, Keiley Gaston and Maddie Murphy and sophomore Mary Lynch were all among the top-seven runners last season, with Healy placing 15th at the FCIAC meet and 12th at the Class L championships. Lynch (17th) also finished in the top 20 at the conference meet, while Murphy was 22nd in Class L.
“Those four are our core,” said Gee. “They should all have strong seasons.”
Sophomore Kate Williams could become a top-five fixture, and senior Larkin Brown and freshmen Nina Mellin and Meghan Downey are also pushing to crack the starting lineup.
“We should be fine,” said Gee. “We just need to stay healthy.”
Brown leads WHS boys
The Wilton boys team enters the 2013 season with an elite runner in junior Spencer Brown. He won the Class L individual title last year and also finished third at the FCIAC meet.
“Spencer is obviously a very talented runner,” said Gee. “We’ll have to see if he can make more progress this year.”
The other four runners (Matt Caswell, Spencer Taylor, Owen Mellin, Tristan Haas) who scored points for the Warriors at the FCIAC and Class L meets have graduated, casting a blanket of unpredictability over this year’s squad.
“Some other people have to step up,” said Gee. “The team was hit pretty hard by graduation.”
Senior Kristian Langholm, who was one of Wilton’s top-seven runners a year ago, returns and should be a constant contributor. Also vying for top-seven spots are senior Ryan Cross, juniors Will Hoffman, Jack DeAngelis, Nick DiCorato and Nathan Briglin, and sophomores Justin Hoelzl, Patrick Moore and Ryan Moore.
“It’s a question mark after Spencer Brown,” said Gee. “I think some of the guys do have a chance to be decent runners, but none of them are proven at this point.”
Notes: The Wilton teams open the season next Tuesday with a home meet against St. Joseph, Fairfield Ludlowe and Fairfield Warde at Allen’s Meadow.
The annual Wilton Invitational meet will take place Sept. 28 at Allen’s Meadow.
The Wilton girls team was 12th at the New England championships last year.