Cross country preview: Warriors ready to run

With most of its top runners returning, the Wilton High girls cross country team looks to be among the top contenders for a conference title this fall.

Meanwhile, the Wilton boys team will look to rebuild following the graduation loss of Spencer Brown and several other scoring runners, although the Warriors should have one of the conference’s best one-two tandems.

Leading the way for the Wilton girls is senior Mary Lynch, who was the team’s top runner last season. Lynch finished fourth overall at the FCIAC championship and was 10th at the Class L meet.

“Mary looks to be in good shape,” said Wilton head coach Jeff Gee, whose team was fourth at FCIACs and fifth in Class L last year. “I don’t see anyone challenging her for second place (behind defending champ Hannah DeBalsi of Staples) at FCIACs, unless Mary has a bad race.”

Also back for the Warriors are senior Lilla Seymour, juniors Nina Mellin and Meaghan Downey, and sophomore Elizabeth Lynch, who all were among the team’s top-six runners in 2014.

“Some of those runners have gotten a lot better,” said Gee. “They should be even more of a factor this year.”

Senior Macallan Fox, who is coming off a strong outdoor track season last spring, should also contribute, as will junior Elizabeth Healy, who joined the team after playing soccer the past two years. Healy is the younger sister of former Wilton standout Sarah Healy, who is now running at Yale.

Senior Kate Williams, a captain along with Mary Lynch, and juniors Sarah Hinck and Christine Troller are also back for the Warriors and provide quality depth.

“I think we have the potential to be right up there with the top teams in the FCIAC,” said Gee. “I like what we have.”

The Wilton boys team was much harder hit by graduation, with the biggest departure being that of Brown, who finished second overall at both the conference and Class L meets last season.

Also gone are Will Hoffman, Nick DiCorato and Jake Guth, who all scored for Wilton at post-season meets.

Wilton’s top returnee is senior Justin Hoelzl, who was the team’s second runner behind Brown in 2014. Hoelzl finished 12th at the FCIAC championship and 58th at the Class L meet.

The Warriors will benefit from the arrival of junior Aaron Breene, an indoor and outdoor track standout who joins the team after playing soccer the last two years.

“With Justin and Aaron we should have one of the best one-two combos in the league,” said Wilton head coach Jim Gerweck. “I don’t see many other teams being able to match those two guys.”

Seniors Patrick Moore, Jack Heinemann and Erik Danvers will look to add depth behind Hoelzl and Breene, as will junior Sean Cunningham and sophomore Luke Maloney.

Gerweck said that two freshmen, Connor Drake and Flynn Crowther, could also make immediate contributions.

“It looks to be a transition year,” said Gerweck. “But if some of the other guys behind Justin and Aaron can step up we could surprise some people.”

Notes: The Wilton girls are without junior Olivia Bernardini, who is competing for a club program, according to Gee. Bernardini was Wilton’s second-best runner last fall and placed fifth overall at FCIACs and 47th in Class L.

The Wilton boys were 10th at both the FCIAC and Class L meets last season.

Brown is now a freshman at Georgetown and running on the Hoyas’ cross country and track teams.