Xavier- Staples Rivalry is Reignited

The Wickham Invitational, the largest meet in Connecticut was held Saturday and there were some surprises on the boy's side, but not much was learned on the girls. 

Xavier upset defending State Open champion and number one ranked Staples by 13 points.  In the late 80s and early 90s, both teams developed a very intense rivalry as the two programs traded off State Open titles for a number of years.  

This was a meet that could have gone either way but the Falcons are much improved since the beginning of the season with the return of their number one runner Robbie Cozean and the addition of Coginchaug transfer Peter Schulten. 

Cozean is coming off a stress fracture last spring and only started training about six weeks ago.  Schulten, who was All State in Class SS last year, showed up at Xavier orientation at the end of August and sat out the CIAC required 50 percent of the season and is now eligible.  They were a strong team at the beginning of the season and are now a legitimate contender for the State Open championship in just under four weeks. 

Tolland was a big surprise, taking third and defeating third ranked Hall.  Tolland has had several years of top middle school runners finally rising into the high school ranks.   This performance gives them a great chance at making New Englands by finishing top six at the State Open. 

Hall was disappointed, but took their off day in stride.  One of their top runners was forced to drop out of the race, but they are looking forward bouncing back in the championship part of the season.

Individually, the day belonged to Cheshire's Brendan Murray.  He broke 16 minutes for the first time on Wickham's hilly course with a time of 15:58.   He went out with the lead pack but made his move right at the half way mark on the course and his lead grew to about 30 yards by the time he hit the hill affectionally known as the "Green Monster" about a half mile later.

Junior Robert Dillon of Shelton was among the top five at the Green Monster but had a strong second half and finished 2nd in 16:15.   His time was eight seconds faster than he ran last year at the State Open where he finished 15th. 

Kyle Hotchkiss of Kennedy in Waterbury was last year's NVL runner up but has grown into one of the top runners in the state.  He won the Seeded race on Saturday with a time of 16:34, which would have been top 10 in the championship race run later in the day. 

Hotchkiss was pushed to the wire by Coventry sophomore Taylor Ney who finished two seconds back. 

The Seeded division team race came down to the wire with Bristol Central, led by 13th place Mark Petrosky taking the win by only two points over Northwestern Regional 169-171.

The Unseeded race was won by Nicolas Burtson of Hopkins in New Haven.  The sophomore ran 16:37 to easily win the race over Brian Oram from Marlborough, Mass by 17 seconds.

Wilbur Cross of New Haven, more known for its success in track won the boys Unseeded race 128-192 over Conard. 

The girl's championship race turned into a time trial for top ranked Glastonbury who took first through fifth place.  Immaculate was the only other team entered in the race that was ranked in the top ten of the CT Cross Country Coaches Poll.  But the Mustangs race 2nd ranked Pomperaug on Tuesday, so they rested their number one runner Angela Saidman.

With some of the fastest individual girls running with their teams in the seeded section, that allowed the Tomahawks to race together and have their top five finish within 30 seconds of each other.  Erin McGill won easily in 20:13 with teammate Alexandra Ross only one second back. 

There was a little a little more excitement in the Seeded Race.  Sophomore Jenna Zydanowicz of Hall High School ran 19:11, which was the fastest time of the day. 

Hall also came home with the seeded race team title and had the 2nd fastest team time of the day behind Glastonbury.  They defeated North Kingston, Rhode Island by a score of 112-133.

Fellow 10th grader Kylie Raymond of Somers finished in 2nd with a time of 19:40. Also breaking 20 minutes were Una Treanor of Smithfield, RI who was three seconds behind Raymond and Manchester's Kate Hedlund who ran 19:56.

In the Unseeded race, Massachusetts' Meghan Davis from Mohawk Trail took the trip down south of the border and came away with the victory.  Her time of 19:53 was 15 seconds faster than Maliya Ellis of Hopkins. 

Berkshire League power Nonnewaug took the Unseeded race over Cromwell 233- 240.  There were 40 teams in the race to give them plenty of competition. 

Check out over 500 pictures from CT Milesplit's coverage of Wickham.