The Weston High boys cross country team finished ninth out of 20 teams at the State Open at Wickham Park in East Hartford Nov. 6 with 243 points. Xavier (116) won, New Milford (120) took second and Amity (202) was third. If second-seeded Weston placed 10 points higher, it would have moved on to the New England championship, tying sixth place (the top six qualify) Conard (233), but nevertheless, it tied the school's best-ever State Open result and improved from last year's 13th-place finish.

"Obviously it's tough missing New Englands by 10 points," said senior captain Ryan Gilmore. "But overall I think we have to be happy with our performance."

Trojans coach Marty Ogden mirrors his captain's sentiments. "It's disappointing to be so close to making New Englands, but I couldn't be happier with how the team performed this season." he said. "The sport is about teaching dedication, discipline, and hard work, and we have definitely achieved that goal."

Weston was coming off a strong win in its class meet, but was not able to carry its momentum to another victory. New Fairfield's John Raneri won the race with a time of 15:40, and Wolcott's Christopher Bendsten (15:43) and Cheshire's Sean Mueller (16:00) rounded out the top three. Class SS champion Mike LeDuc from Canton, ran a 16:27 to finish 15th, with Trojan senior captain James Bloom completing the course one second later for a 16th-place finish. Bloom was the fastest Trojan and was able to cut off 27 seconds from his time at the class meet just a week before.

After finishing second at the Class SS meet, Weston captain Steve Piscatelli was 43rd at the Open with a time of 16:59. Junior Stephen Vento (17:15), Gilmore (17:38), and sophomore Chris Piscatelli (18:17) were Weston's three-through-five finishers, with freshman Noah Krassin (19:03) and sophomore Jack Curran (19:35) completing the Trojan lineup. With the times they ran, Bloom, Vento, Gilmore, the younger Piscatelli, and Krassin all set personal records for the course.

In addition to Xavier, New Milford, Amity and Conard, Canton (205) and Hamden (209) also advanced to New Englands. The top 25 individuals move on to New Englands regardless of whether their teams qualify, thus Bloom made the cut.

Bloom is only the third Weston runner ever to qualify for the championship, with Ryan Lane and John Loeser being the other two and Loeser being the sole Trojan All-New England (in 2005).

"It feels great to know that all my hard work since June has paid off, and I couldn't be happier with how the race played out," Bloom said. "Overall, our team did what it was supposed to do at the Open, and I know that New Englands is going to take the same amount of determination and pain to be able to place well."

The fact that teams six through 10 were all within ten points of each other is a testament to how strong the entire state was this season. Bloom said, "It's a real honor to be called the ninth best team in the whole state."

Bloom (17:05) finished 38th at the New England championships on Saturday at Wickham Park.

"I thought I could have done better but considering the conditions, I did all right," said Bloom. "I hope to do better at the Nike Northeast Regionals [in Upstate New York Nov. 28]."

Welsh leads Lady Trojans

For the Lady Trojans, only senior Jessica Welsh qualified for State Open. Welsh managed to cut 45 seconds from her Class M championship time from a week before to finish the course in 19:55 to place 30th place, and just missed the 19:39 time of the 25th-place finisher.

"I was happy to improve on my time from States," said Welsh. "But I obviously wish I could have run those few seconds faster to make it to New Englands."