Wilton ski teams rebuild for runs at state titles

The Wilton High boys and girls ski teams will not be lowering their expectations for the upcoming racing season — although the Warriors will learn a lot about where they stand when the season opens as scheduled on Wednesday.

“Our first race will be our time trials to see where we are,” said girls coach Bill Howard, who expects a rebuilding season.

The girls team is gunning to win its fourth straight Class S state title. The Warriors, who also finished fourth at the State Open, lost their top two skiers to graduation — State Open runner-up Haley Howard and Gigi Poirier, who was ninth at the State Open.

This year’s team is led by its two captains, senior Hannah Jung and junior Julia Bonnist, who had the team’s third-best finish (32nd overall) at last season’s State Open.

Nine of the team’s 18 skiers are freshmen. Despite the team’s inexperience, the Warriors are gearing up to defend their division crown.

“We’re really excited. Even though we lost six seniors from last year, we’re looking pretty good for this season,” said Jung. “We want to definitely win our class again and maybe get higher in the state tournament than we did last year. We’re a really young team. We have nine new members on our team, but they all look really promising.”

“We have a new trainer that’s been working with us (in dryland training). We’ve been working really hard at that to get stronger so we’re ready for the races,” said Bonnist.

The other top skier from a year ago is sophomore Emily O’Brien, who was the team’s fifth finisher at the Open, and 49th overall.

The roster also features senior Grace Ullman; juniors Bella Fox, Anna Holt and Katie Reid; sophomores Maddie Jelilian and Emily Welch; and freshmen Lara Burke, Chloe Elias, Lyla Hage, Megan Kaeyer, Sadie Kinnersley, Niamh McCarthy, Sara Schneidman,Teagan Sullivan and Hope Ullman.

The Wilton boys team has a little more experience than the girls team, with five of its top six finishers back from last year’s State Open.

The Warriors placed 10th at the Open, and a close second to Weston in Class S, despite missing their top skier in Zach Verrilli.

Like the girls team, the Wilton boys will look for help from a big freshman class.

“We’re really excited to see what they have to offer,” said Patrick Verrilli, who is co-captain of this year’s team along with fellow junior Michael Hueglin.

The team returns its top four finishers at last year’s Open in sophomore August Theoharides (49th), senior Griffin Klinga (53rd), Hueglin (58th) and Verrilli (60th), along with its sixth finisher in senior Nathan Reznik (85th).

“In our top six we have a lot of returning skiers so I’m very confident in what we can do,” said Hueglin, who is hopeful the team can pull ahead of Weston this season for the Class S title. Wilton’s last state title came in 2013.

“We have very high expectations this year. We were just behind Weston last year,” said Verrilli. “We have a lot of returning guys. Hopefully we can get that state title back to Wilton.”

The roster also includes seniors Harrison Brandt, Alec Favarolo, Lucas Mendola, Will Santacroce and Jackson Wehrli; juniors Matt Arrix, John Fortuna and Peter Vogric; sophomores Reed O’Brien, Thomas Sullivan, Owen Wardle and Christian Weber; and freshmen Michael Cassara, Evan Charney, Phillip Klinga, Christopher Lancaster, Ben Leung, Dominick Polito, Noah Sackowitz and Scott Verrilli.

The Wilton boys team coach, Rob Perry, is currently on leave, with Emma Traggianese serving as the interim coach.
— J.B. Cozens