Weston boys XC wins third Class SS title in four years

Halloween 2009 will always be remembered as a special day for the Weston boys cross country team. Racing at Wickham Park in East Hartford in the 21-team field, Weston (58 points) won its second straight Class SS title on Saturday, its third title in four years. The Trojans did not perform to their standards at the SWC championships Oct. 22 and they knew they could do better at Class SS -- which they did.

Canton (63) was the only team to give Weston (58 points) a real challenge in the 5-kilometer course. Rounding out the top five were Haddam-Killingworth (134 points), Nonnewaug (163), and East Catholic (170).

Mike LeDuc of Canton set a Class SS record with a time of 16:29. Trojan senior captain Steve Piscatelli (16:36) grabbed second place, beating his 2008 state championship time by 16 seconds. Senior captain James Bloom (16:55) placed fourth and junior Stephen Vento (17:31), a cross country rookie, took seventh. All-State accolades go to the top eight finishers, thus Piscatelli, Bloom, and Vento get to add that honor to their résumés.

Though the top three Trojan runners did well, it was the top five whose places add up to get the final score. Weston senior captain Ryan Gilmore (17:43) cut almost 45 seconds off last season's time to finish 13th, coming in at 17:43. No. 5 Trojan runner Chris Piscatelli (18:27), a sophomore, took 32nd place overall.

The younger Piscatelli said, "It was definitely a little overwhelming coming into my first cross country season, but after a summer of hard training I became more confident."

Chris Piscatelli added, "Gilmore came up huge and we all stepped up to secure a tight win over a very good Canton team."

Classmate Jack Curran (19:22) and freshman Noah Krassin (19:24) finished 67th and 69th, respectively. Out of the 155 runners completing the course, Weston's seven were all in the fastest 45 percent, which certainly bodes well for its future.

This strong core has given the rest of the runners people to look up to. Chris Piscatelli said, "This means a lot. We were lucky to have three dedicated captains this year and one of the best coaches in the state. Our strong leadership has created a team with trust, and although it was not easy and we had our share of letdowns, they all did a great job of keeping the team on track."

The two top teams in each class qualify for the State Open meet, so Weston will be competing in it on Friday. Remarkably, this is the Trojans' fifth consecutive year qualifying for the Open, and they are the No. 2 seed going into it.

Coach Marty Ogden said, "We have a solid shot at reaching our goal of top six in the Open, and we hope to be the first team from Weston to qualify for the New England Championships."

The Weston girls cross country team (183) placed fifth in the 22-team Class M field. New Fairfield (97) won and Suffield, Nonnewaug, and Griswold finished second, third and fourth, respectively. Senior Jessica Welsh (20:40) led the Lady Trojans all year and Saturday was no exception as she finished seventh overall in the 5,000-meter course. Behind Welsh were, in order, sophomore Catherine Kravchenko, juniors Kara Bucaro and Casey Weiss, sophomore Rachel Fraade, and seniors Olivia Lewis and Susu Grace. Welsh was the only Lady Trojan who qualified for the State Open and will compete on Friday.