Staples cross country looks ahead to states
One down, two to go.
For the Staples boys cross country team, a triple crown of titles is still in sight after making a statement to begin the championship season. The FCIAC champions will now test their depth against the top teams in Class LL in a race at Wickham Park in Manchester on Saturday.
The first leg of that journey could not have gone any better. The Wreckers delivered a surprisingly easy victory at the FCIAC meet to claim its first conference title in over a decade. Paced by five runners inside the top 11, the Wreckers dominated after Danbury's pack was quickly left in the dust.
Staples notched 27 points, the Hatters finished second with 61. The win avenged last season’s loss at the meet by just three spots (71-74) and was the first league title for the team since 2004. The Hatters had won 15 of the previous 17.
"I thought the race would be close and I thought we could win," said Staples coach Laddie Lawrence. "The kids did great; I have five kids who were named (first team All-FCIAC). We wanted to put four in the top 15 and we got five in the top 11."
The two major components of a great team are a top-notch performer capable of competing for the overall title, and impressive depth to back him up. Check and check.
Wreckers senior Zakeer Ahmad (15:49.42) won the race at FCIACs by more than 20 seconds. Looking to secure the top spot for his team, Ahmad broke away from the pack on a warm day and cruised to the win.
"I was just trying to string it out and see who was with me, and react based on that" Ahmad said. "But I ended up getting a pretty good lead so I just kind of cruised."
"It’s really cool to be a part of that," Ahmad said. "Every year you always see those top guys and kind of aspire to be up there. To be in that select group is really cool."
Behind Ahmad was a host of Wreckers who secured excellent finishes. Teammates William Landowne (16:14.94), Christian Myers (16:16.22) and Benjamin Seiple (16:17.88) crossed the line in 4th-6th places. Sunil Green (16:30.26) placed 11th for Staples, which posted a perfect dual meet season.
The Wreckers can now turn their attention to a pair of showdowns at Wickham, beginning Saturday. The State Open is the following Friday. Lawrence cited SCC clubs Xavier and Amity as ones to watch, in addition to what will likely be a significant improvement from the Hatters.
"We’re going to prepare for states the same way, hopefully we’ll run as well," Lawrence said. "It’s going to be a tough one; this time of year, it’s not always the teams who are the best, it’s the ones who stay the healthiest."