Last season was yet another close call for both the Staples boys and girls ski teams in their seemingly never ending quest to capture a State Open championship.

Both are always near the top of the mountain by the time the state meets come around, and that should be the case again this winter. The Staples boys team will be chasing defending champion Fairfield Prep, which has made a strong start to the season.

Though standout Campbell Ashman graduated, the Wreckers bring back a deep group of top contributors, including Harrison Ross, Tim Chiang, Rory Steele and Burke Anvari. Joseph Turner, Rory Burke and Charlie Steele also make up the lineup.

"We don’t have the one guy in Campbell Ashman, who was consistently finishing in first or second every race," said boys coach Courtney Ruggiero. "This year we don’t have that top guy, but I think that’s giving some of the other guys incentive to duke it out. It’s a nice inter-team competitiveness."

Weather conditions have improved this year compared to last, and teams hit the slopes for competitive action shortly after the new year. The boys team is out to a 10-1 start so far this year.

"I think that we always want to be one of the top teams in the league consistently," Ruggiero said. "That’s in reach for us, but I want to make sure the boys focus on improving as well individually."

The girls team was eight tenths of a second away from claiming their first championship since 2012. With all 10 varsity starters returning, hopes are high the title will come to Westport.

The Wreckers girls raced against Fairfield and several other teams Jan. 12th, and came away with the win. Staples had a collective team score of 290.81, less than two seconds quicker than their rivals. Sofia Gerrard (45.91) finished second overall in the race while Maddie Steele was sixth in 47.05.

Staples’ roster also includes Kayla Sirlin, Ellie Ashman, Suzanne Allen and Ava Reichhelm, who all notched top-25 finishes in the showdown against Fairfield.