Cross country: Hoelzl is winner in first race

Missing two of its top five runners, the Wilton High girls cross country team came up short against Staples in Tuesday’s season opener in Danbury.

Senior Lilla Seymour was ill and junior Nina Mellin was held out by Coach Jeff Gee. The Warriors did score wins over Westhill and Danbury.  Wilton lost to Staples, 20-36, but topped  Danbury, 15-48, and Westhill, 15-50.

“I had some new girls in there who ran very well,” said Gee. “I think we would have beaten (Staples) with those other two girls. It would have been a pretty close meet.”

Even without Seymour and Mellin, the Warriors had eight of the top 15 finishers.

Hannah DeBalsi of Staples was the winner with a time of 15:08 for the 4000-meter course at Tarrywile Park.

Senior Mary Lynch led the way, placing second  in a time of 16:10, followed by sophomores Morgan McCormick (sixth, 17:25) and Elizabeth Lynch (eighth, 17:48) and juniors Erika Bonnist (ninth, 18:12) and Elizabeth Healy (11th, 18:27) to round out the top five.

Gee said that three of those runners — McCormick, Bonnist and Healy — were making their debuts.

“It’s going to take some time for them to get fully acclimated. That was the first cross country race for all three of them,” he said.

Also in the top 15 were Macallan Fox (13th, 18:51), Meaghan Downey (14th, 18:52) and Amy DeCola (15th, 19:17).

The Wilton boys got a great performance from senior Justin Hoelzl, who was the race winner in a time of 13:11.

“I was told it was one of the fastest times ever run on the course,” said Gee.

Hoelzl beat Zakeer Ahmad of Staples by four seconds, while new junior Aaron Breene finished third, just two seconds behind Ahmad, in a time of 13:18.

Wilton’s next finisher was senior Patrick Moore, who was 29th in 15:44. He was followed by junior Sean Cunningham (32nd, 16:02) and sophomore Luke Maloney (35th, 16:10) to round out Wilton’s top five.

The Warriors scored a win over Westhill, 15-50, but lost to Staples, 27-37, and to Danbury, 25-36.

Wilton got a good showing in the Coed Novice race, with freshman Connor Drake winning the 2000-meter race in 8:11, and two other ninth graders finishing in the top four — Flynn Crowther (third, 8:39) and Tyler Zengo (fourth, 8:56). Gee expects all three to move up to varsity for future meets.