Cross country: DeBalsi, van der Els take honors at Wilton Invitational

After finishing third last year and second two years ago, the third time was the charm for Brien McMahon senior Eric van der Els, who ran away with the boys varsity race at the 27th Annual Wilton Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at Allen’s Meadow Park.

The 3.15-mile race had 166 finishers, with van der Els finishing in a time of 15:32 to beat runner-up Kyle Beaudette of Amity by 34 seconds.

The girls varsity race saw a similar result, as senior Hannah DeBalsi of Staples, the defending FCIAC champion, jumped out to a huge early lead and cruised to victory, finishing the 2.5 course in a time of 15:00. Mary Lynch of Wilton, a senior, was second in 15:41. The girls race had 131 finishers.

Click here for complete results from the meet.

Wilton won the girls small school division with 35 points. New Fairfield was second (57) and New Canaan third (58). The Staples girls were first in the large school division with 22 points, followed by Greenwich (61) and Fairfield Ludlowe (65).

In the boys division, Guilford was the winner among small schools with 50 points, beating out Shepaug Valley (53). Rounding out the top five were Brunswick School (80), New Canaan (96) and Wilton (109).

Amity won the boys large school division with 24 points, with Fairfield Prep taking second with 39 points. Trumbull was third with 97 points.

For the Wilton girls, Lynch was followed by sophomore Morgan McCormick, who was sixth in a time of 16:29. Elizabeth Lynch, also a sophomore, was 17th in 17:10. Rounding out the team’s top seven were juniors Elizabeth Healy (51st. 18:28), Erika Bonnist (27th, 17:28) and Nina Mellin (32nd, 17:42), and senior Macallan Fox (43rd, 18:14).

On the boys side, Wilton was led by senior Justin Hoelzl, who was 15th (17:07) and junior Aaron Breene, who was 17th (17:21). The top seven was rounded out by senior Patrick Moore (71st, 19:02), junior Sean Cunningham (82nd, 19:21), senior Erik Danvers (96th, 19:42), sophomore Jonah Hirsch (119th, 20:30) and senior Jack Heinemann (120th, 20:32).

The boys freshmen race was won by Wilton’s Connor Drake, who completed the 2000-meter course in a time of 17:11. Flynn Crowther was fifth (18:05), Tyler Zengo was 15th (18:51) and Ben Grass was 20th (19:00). The Wilton boys won the race with 66 points, beating out Amity (75), Darien (85) and seven other teams. Rounding out the team’s top seven were Reed O’Brien (30th, 19:32), John Caty (34th, 19:32) and Aidan Burke (42nd, 20:02).

In the girls freshman race, Wilton was led by Margaret Fiesel, who was 14th in a time of 10:48 for the 1.5-mile course. Hannah Bracken was 16th (10:52).

In the girls JV race, Wilton’s Kate Williams finished fifth in a time of 18:05 for 2.5 miles.