Cross country preview: Wilton teams have chance to reach goals
For the Wilton High boys cross country team, it’s a matter of bouncing back from a disappointing 2011 season.
For the girls team, it’s a matter of maintaining its status as one of the elite teams in the FCIAC and the state.
With the season opener just days away, both teams seem likely to accomplish their goals.
“I think both teams can be good,” said Jeff Gee, who (for now) is coaching both teams this fall with the departure of boys coach Ted Farah. “It looks like both teams are deep.”
The Wilton teams open the season next Tuesday at Staples.
The WHS girls return four of its top seven from a year ago, when it won the Class L state title for the sixth time and finished third at FCIACs.
In addition, the Warriors are bolstered by the addition of several new runners who are expected to make big impacts.
The team will be led by senior captains Alosha Southern, Alex Fiesel and Corrigan Serpa.
Southern, last year’s top runner, was runner-up at the Class L meet and third at the FCIAC championship.
Fiesel was the team’s second finisher at both meets, taking seventh at Class L and 16th at FCIACs.
Another key returner is junior Keiley Gaston, who was in the team’s top four at both FCIACs (24th) and the Class L meet (17th).
Also back are seniors Kailey Troller and Lauren Prospect, and juniors Kim Holmgren and Larkin Brown.
Gee is excited about the addition of juniors Maddie Murphy, Sara Healy and Casey Chase, who are all expected to make big contributions. They turned in impressive efforts last Friday in the team’s time trial in Bethel.
“I’m pretty positive with what we’ve got. I think these girls will only get better,” said Gee, who expected Southern and Fiesel to set the pace for the Warriors.
“I think they’ve got the talent to be top 10 or top five in the league,” he said. “Gaston and Chase are quality runners. I was very pleasantly surprised with Murphy and Healy on Friday. It was a hot day and there was a very difficult hill. To see that and come through that, it was petty impressive.”
Gee said a couple of freshmen, Mary Lynch and Kate Williams, could also be in the mix by season’s end.
As was the case last year, Wilton’s toughest competition will be close to home. Ridgefield and Darien enter the season as the favorites to win the FCIAC, while Westhill and Fairfield Warde also have strong teams.
“I see the potential of five really good teams. It could mean we can be right up there with Darien and Ridgefield, or we can be battling Westhill and Warde for third. It’s hard to say,” said Gee. “The projection is that the state overall will be down a little bit, but the FCIAC is as strong as I can remember.”
The Warriors, who graduated three of their top six runners from a year ago in Paige Lyons, Rebecca Craig and Gabby House, were ninth at the State Open last season. The team compiled a 14-3 record during the regular season.
The WHS boys team is looking to improve on last year’s 10-place finish at FCIACs.
“We were a little disappointed last year. We felt we were better than that,” said Gee, who returns four of last year’s top seven.
Leading the way is sophomore Spencer Brown, who qualified for the State Open last year as a freshman after placing ninth at the Class L state championships. Although he finished a disappointing 50th at the FCIAC championships with a subpar performance, he is expected to be among the top runners in the league this fall.
The Warriors also return senior captains Matt Caswell, Spencer Taylor and Owen Mellin. Caswell was the team’s top finisher at FCIACs last year (49th) and second on the team at the Class L meet (52nd). Taylor was among the team’s top five at both meets, and Mellin was Wilton’s sixth runner at both meets.
Wilton also returns seniors David Hernandez, Travis Taylor and Derek Stang, and juniors Kristian Langholm, Jack DeAngelis, Nick DiCorato and David Wilson. The key newcomer is freshman Justin Hoelzl.
Gee said the potential is there for a good season.
“I think if we see leadership, focus and effort, these guys can do very well,” he said.
Danbury and Ridgefield are the FCIAC favorites going into the season.
“After that, it looks pretty wide open,” he said.
Key losses from last year’s team are Christopher LoGiurato, Adrian DiCorato and Ben Hoffman. The Warriors were eighth at the Class L meet.