Cross country: Wilton girls fifth, Brown second at states

Last Saturday’s Class L state championship meet surprised longtime Wilton High girls cross country coach Jeff Gee.

And not in a good way.

“Frankly, I’m shocked,” said Gee, following his team’s fifth-place finish. “You have to go back a while to see when we finished that low.”

2003, to be exact. The Warriors were also fifth that year, in the Class MM state championship meet. Since then Wilton has finished either first or second at every state class meet, a stretch that included Class L titles the past three seasons.

“I thought we were ready to have a good performance,” said Gee. “Some of the girls did run well, but some others were a little off.”

Wilton had 122 points to finish behind Darien (65), Mercy (67), Pomperaug (98) and E.O. Smith (110).

One of the Warriors who ran well was junior Mary Lynch. She placed third overall in a time of 19:43 for the 3.1-mile course.

“Mary had a very good race,” said Gee. “Her time was about the 11th or 12th fastest of the entire day (which included five other state class meets).”

Olivia Bernardini was Wilton’s second finisher, placing 21st overall in a time of 21:27.

She was closely followed by teammate Nina Mellin, who ran impressively to finish 26th overall in 21:35.

Meaghan Downey (34th, 21:59) and Lilla Seymour (38th, 22:09) also contributed toward Wilton’s team score, while sixth runner Elizabeth Lynch was close behind Seymour, finishing 41st in 22:13.

Gee is still hopeful that Wilton can rebound at Friday’s State Open and finish in the top six, which would qualify the Warriors for the New England championships.

“I certainly think we are capable of being in the top six,” said Gee. “But we need everyone to run well on the same day. When you’re depending on the same five people every meet, even a small letdown looms large.”

Brown leads Wilton boys

Meanwhile, the Wilton boys team placed 10th at its Class L state meet Saturday with 258 points.

Senior Spencer Brown led the Warriors with a second-place overall finish in a time of 16:23 for the 3.1 miles. Brown was one second faster than Darien’s Armstrong Noonan, who finished third in a time 16:24, and two seconds faster than New Milford’s Jonathan Davis, who placed fourth in 16:26.

The Warriors also got a strong performance from junior Justin Hoelzl, who bounced back from a disappointing effort at the FCIAC meet to finish 12th overall in 17:08.

Also factoring in Wilton’s team score were Will Hoffman (49th, 18:32), Nick DiCorato (91st, 19:29) and Jake Guth (105th, 19:53).

Notes: Although the Wilton boys did not qualify for the State Open meet as a team, Brown and Hoelzl did qualify to compete as individuals.

Darien’s Alex Ostberg, the FCIAC champion, won the Class L boys race in a time of 15:21.

New Milford was first in the boys team standings with 70 points, followed by Darien with 87 points.

Both the boys and girls Class L meets took place at Wickham Park in Manchester.