In a highly anticipated matchup between two of the Nutmeg State's promising young distance runners in Gavin Sherry of Conard and Aidan Puffer of Manchester to start the 2019 cross country season at the Haddad Windham Invitational this past Saturday, this showdown of sophomores went to Sherry in a decisive 15:26 victory on the three mile course.
This past Saturday's season opener at Windham High School, Sherry took control of the race early on with Puffer and rest of field not too far behind in the first mile. By the second mile, Sherry was starting to create and build separation between himself and Puffer en route to a 19 second margin of victory as he crossed the line.
Sherry was a runner-up last year at the CIAC State Open and New England Championships despite only being a ninth grader, so its easy to expect him as a favorite to contend for titles at both major championship races this fall as he progresses and develops as a runner into his sophomore year.
Puffer will be one of his top rivals and competitors not only this season, but many seasons to come as a class of 2022 talent as well. Puffer's runner-up time of 15:45 put him ahead of another sophomore in third place in Sherry's teammate and twin brother Callum Sherry of Conard in 16:04. Not often that three underclassmen sweep the top three places in a varsity boys cross country race as occurred at the Windham Invite.
Led by the Sherry brothers, the Conard boys scored a statement making season opening team win in one of the largest cross country invitationals in the state of Connecticut (over 50 teams and 1,800 runners). Conard tallied 36 points to finish well ahead of Tolland in second place with 79 points as their program was runner-up in both varsity #1 races for boys and girls. Conard's top five averaged 16:12 as a unit including four of the top seven runners in the race.