Staples' Zakeer Ahmad
Two days after Thanksgiving, Connecticut runners are hoping to feast on the competition in New York at either the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals or the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast (NXN-NE) Regionals.
The best bet for prosperity on Saturday for the Nutmeg State lies at Bowdoin Park in Wappinger Falls, site of NXN-NE. Staples, the recent state and New England champions, is among a crowded bunch that can earn one of the coveted two spots for a trip to the Nationals. The Wreckers are ranked No. 2 in the field behind slight favorite and perennial power Christian Brothers Academy (NJ). In all, six teams are within 30-plus points, which means it's anyone's guess who will finish 1-2. Staples certainly has momentum and a bit of confidence on its side after winning its first New England title since 1989 nearly two weeks ago. CBA finished third at its recent Meet of Champions, but did it without their No. 1 runner, Colin Trigani. Trigani will be at the starting line this weekend and brings a best of 15:28 for the 5K distance and has done 4:17 for 1,600 meters.
Of course, the Wreckers have one of the best No. 1 runners in the field, senior Zakeer Ahmad. Ahmad, who won his first state title in early November, placed third at the New England meet. He comes into the race on Saturday ranked seventh in the field, according to the speed ratings. If Staples comes up short as a team, there's a chance they'll still have a representative in Portland, Oregon on Dec. 3, the date of NXN.
Danbury, second at the State Open and third at New England's, is ranked 12th among the 40 teams.