NEW HAVEN — Cross country runners are used to competing in extreme conditions, but a relentless strong wind on Thursday afternoon at the SCC Championships at East Shore Park created a major challenge.
A pair of area runners endured the wind to collect second-place finishes on the 3.1-mile, fairly flat course right on Long Island Sound.
Cheshire senior Brendan Mellitt was the runner-up in the boys race in 16:38 and Sheehan junior Lizzie Brown was second in the girls race in 20:23.
Mellitt finished behind overall winner Robbie Cozean of Xavier, while Brown was runner-up to Hamden’s Ella Bradford.
Cozean, who is heading to the University of Notre Dame, ran a 16:03 to lead Xavier to the boys crown with 42 points. The Falcons were followed by Guilford (96), Amity (124), Cheshire (127) and Daniel Hand (132).
“I’m super-happy with how the race went,” Mellitt said. “Second place with Robbie here is all that I could hope for. He’s an incredible competitor, so second place almost feels like a win, even though it’s not.”
Mellitt, who finished seventh in the SCC last year, stayed with Cozean for the first mile or so before the Xavier runner opened up a gap.
Mellitt said the conditions, palpable remnants of Wednesday night’s storm, were the worst he’s ever run in.
“I didn’t realize how big of a factor wind could be until I ran today,” Mellitt said. “I’m happy with the time and place, considering the conditions. It felt like I was running in the wind in my face.”
Bradford, meanwhile, won the girls race in an even 20:00, 23 seconds ahead of Brown.
“I had the lead for a while and then, after a mile and a half, she started pulling away; I tried to keep as close as I could behind her,” Brown said. “It’s great to finish second. My freshman year I finished second here and last year I didn’t do quite as well. But I’m happy to finish second.”
Brown said the headwinds hurt her performance.
“Lizzie grinds it out all season long and has worked hard and is going to continue to work hard,” Sheehan coach Frank Mohr said. “She has goals. The Hamden girl ran a great race today. But Lizzie ... I would take 25 Lizzies any day. She did a super job and I’m proud of my entire team.”
Guilford won the girls title with 44 points. The Indians were followed by Amity (61) and Cheshire (134).
The Cheshire girls were paced by All-SCC First Team runners Olivia Ferraro (11th, 21:46) and Meghan Georgescu (12th, 21:48). Also scoring for the Rams were Kristina Benga (34th, 23:16), Elizabeth Addesso (37th, 23:21) and Cate Bedard (40th, 23:24).
“We knew Amity beat us handily the other day, so we were looking to beat Law and gain some revenge against Hand, who beat us in a dual meet earlier in the season,” Cheshire coach Rob Schaefer said. “I’m happy with our finish. All in all, it was a very good day. Our team is young and they are growing and getting better faster and stronger and are improving.”
The Sheehan girls finished ninth. Arianna Amodio finished 24th overall in 22:16, good enough to earn All-SCC Second Team status. Amelia Mansfield (49th, 23:46), Emma Reilly (51st, 24:00) and Alyssa Cassella (99th, 27:42) rounded out Sheehan’s scoring.
The Lyman Hall girls were led by Olivia Weir (25th, 22:22), Madison Jackson (32nd, 22:59) and Emma Tommell (79th, 25:00).
The Cheshire boys had another Top 10 finish behind Mellitt. It was Ryan Farrell, who was in sixth in 17:29.
Also running well for the Rams were Francis Simpatico (34th, 18:23), Owen Fiore (39th, 18:41) and Robert DiNatale (46th, 18:51).
“The boys showed some determination out there,” said Cheshire boys coach Pam Gunneson. “Those were some tough conditions out there; the wind was pretty brutal.
“Brendan looked great today. He looked nice and smooth. He had a good start. I’m very happy with his performance and I know he is, too. It’s a confidence builder going into states.”
The Sheehan boys had a pair of All-SCC Second Team runners in Michael Barberino (15th, 17:42) and Derrick Arnold (21st, 17:55). Also scoring for Sheehan were Ethan Venoit (28th, 18:03), Kennedy Clave (48th, 18:53) and Tyler Carmen (73rd, 19:30).
Jack Murphy (55th, 18:59) and Aidan Weir (57th, 19:03) were the top runners for the Lyman Hall boys.CCC Championships
Southington teammates Matt Penna (16:41), Lucca Riccio (17:25), Jake Nafis (17:27), Jackie Izzo (19:33) and Grace Michaud (20:07) had the top area times at Wednesday’s CCC meet at Wickham Park.
Penna placed 17th overall and 8th in the CCC West Division. Izzo was 7th overall and 4th in the CCC West, Michaud 12th and 8th.
Meriden city champ Reynaldo Torres of Maloney ran a 17:37, which placed him 31st overall and 6th in the CCC South. Meriden girls champion Morgan Kicklighter of Maloney was 14th in the CCC South in 23:49.
Conard’s Gavin Sherry (15:43) and Manchester’s Kate Hedlund (18:59) were the individual champions.