CROSS COUNTRY: The rookie reigns at SCC championships

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NEW HAVEN — Cheshire sophomore Alexa Ciccone hadn’t tried cross country before this season.

After being encouraged to run by Cheshire coach Rob Schaefer, Ciccone emerged this fall as the Rams’ top performer. Now she’s SCC champ.

Ciccone led from wire to wire at Wednesday’s Southern Connecticut Conference championships at East Shore Park to claim Cheshire’s first girls conference crown since 1999.

Ciccone finished with a time of 18:59. She led a strong showing by the Cheshire girls, who finished second in the team standings with 77 points behind champion Guilford (56).

“It felt good because I’ve never raced against this type of competition before,” Ciccone said. “I was happy with the results.”

It had been cooler in the days leading up to the race, which ran on a sunny, mid-70-degree day. Yet the weather wasn’t the factor it could have been, at least not for Ciccone.

“Today, I was really hot leading up to the race,” Ciccone said. “Sometimes (when) I get more hot, I start to slow down, but that wasn’t an issue today.”

Ciccone did track last year as a freshman and did all of the distance events for the Rams.

“I decided to try this and I like to so much better because I love distance running,” Ciccone said.

She added that she was not expecting to win the SCC championship. She was going for a top-5 or top-10 finish.

“She’s a first-year runner and we saw her explode in skills last year,” Cheshire coach Rob Schaefer said. “We were amazed with her. She was figuring things out slowly, but surely.

“But this summer she ran a lot of miles and the results are now happening. I’m so happy for her. She ran a smart race and put the pedal to the metal in the second mile to separate those two other girls that were with her and she came home with this.”

“She has drive, determination and she’s still discovering it,” Schaefer added. “Every time she runs a race things are new to her — new courses and new opponents. She’s focused, cerebral and is really smart. She knows how to put a race together.”

With the victory, Ciccone was named the SCC Girls Runner of the Year.

Ciccone was followed by teammates Mia Vientos (10th, 20:55), Meghan Georgescu (12th, 21:02), Eva Curran (21st, 21:48) and Katie Hall (36th, 22:53).

Also for Cheshire, veteran Olivia Ferraro returned from a bone injury, but is far from 100 percent.

“The fact that she even raced today is impressive,” Schaefer said. “If she can come back for states that will really help. Katie Hall came up big as our fifth runner. She filled the bill and did so well for us. I'm so happy to have three girls in the top 12.”

Lyman Hall was 12th overall paced by Emily Chase (11th, 20:57), Olivia Weir (15th, 21:31), Delanay Strahowski (79th, 25:12), Emma Tommell (92nd, 26:38) and Nichole Benard (93rd, 26:41).

Sheehan didn’t have the minimum five runners to score, but did have Angelika Kotula (23rd, 21:56) and Kathryn Lombino (84th, 25:37) on the course.

Xavier won the boys championship with 52 points, followed by Daniel Hand (73) and Guilford (82).

Xavier’s Eamon Burke was the boys individual champion with a time of 15:35. He out-raced Amity’s Mason Beaudette (2nd, 15:58) and Daniel Hand’s Jack O’Keefe (3rd, 16:14).

Cheshire was the top area boys team with a sixth-place finish. The Rams featured a top-10 finisher in sophomore Tyler Caron (10th, 16:43).

“There’s a lot more for me to do the next two years, but I feel this is my best performance yet,” Caron said. “This completely exceeded my expectations. Around Mile 2 my chest started getting tight and I wasn’t breathing very well. I didn’t think I was going to place that high.”

Also scoring for Cheshire were Colin Grevelding (33rd, 17:46), Christopher DiNatale (38th, 17:57), Daniel D'Souza (44th, 18:20) and Jeremiah Mann (51st, 18:38).

Cheshire coach Pam Gunneson said her young squad ran well for her on Wednesday.

“Everybody was just going for it and guys were running in front of guys that they usually don’t,” Gunneson said. “Everyone was giving their best effort. Everybody picked it up for each other.”

Gunneson said she saw Caron pick up 10 spots during the second loop of the course.

“It was great to watch; so much fun,” Gunneson said. “He was really strong as a freshman. He was our No. 3, sometimes our No. 2. He’s taken off a good 40-45 seconds from last year. He did a lot of training over the summer.”

The Sheehan boys were 12th as a team and Lyman Hall was 15th. 

Scoring for the Titans were Anthony Galicia (35th, 17:51), Jose Camargo (70th, 19:00), Owen Hotaling (77th, 19:17), Ryan Carmen (86th, 19:44) and Espen Fenstad (90th, 19:50).

This was Galicia’s first race in 2½ weeks after suffering a foot injury.

“It was a great effort on both teams,” Sheehan coach Frank Mohr said. “Angelica emptied the tank today and was second-team All-SCC. My pack did well with the boys. I was happy with their performance. I have three good freshmen to build on for next year.”

Scoring for the Trojans were Henry Murphy (36th, 17:54), Peyton Durant (37th, 17:55), Thomas Conklin (89th, 19:50), Dylan Stackpole (99th, 20:46) and Aydan Durant (114th, 23:44).

Lyman Hall coach Mike Addorisio said his teams had some strong performances.

“We basically had a great day,” Addorisio said. “It was a hot day and the kids like running in the cooler weather. Overall, it was a good day.”

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