The Staples High girls ski team has gotten off to a strong start in its bid to repeat as state champions.

The Wreckers are 11-1 in Class L, with their lone defeat to last year's state runner-up, Fairfield, on Jan. 9.

In its most recent race, Feb. 7 at Mount Southington, Staples won with a score of 287.71. Weston (299.04) finished second and Cheshire (303.12) placed third.

Liz Cooperstone was the Wreckers' first finisher at fourth overall (47.00) and was followed by Jacqueline Chappo in fifth (47.21), Caitlyn Hartman in eighth (47.81) and Alex Collins in a tie for 10th (48.08). Corbally took 13th place (48.66) and Alison Thomson was 15th (48.95).

Staples coach Tom Owen has been particularly pleased with his team's depth.

"We have a lot of depth and I think that's what it takes to win this thing," he said. "That's the way that it's been in the past.

Chappo, Cooperstone and Thomson have qualified for Team Connecticut's Slalom Shootout, to be held Feb. 25 at Mount Southington.

Thomson, a junior, has returned strong from an ACL tear, which sidelined her all of last season.

"She's getting stronger each race," Owen said. "I see her peaking at the right time."

Owen believes that if Staples continues at its current pace and everything falls in order, his team has a strong chance to defend its title. The State Open will be held March 6 at Mount Southington.

"The kids are good. I think they know the importance of that final Open race," he said.; 203-255-4561 ext. 114;