Some of the FCIAC's finest clashed in a quad-meet battle royale between Danbury, Darien, Staples and St. Joseph in the regular season finale at St. Joseph High School Tuesday afternoon.

Darien runners took first place in both races, as Anne Johnston finished in 18:37 and Alex Ostberg clocked in at 15:26. The Staples boys team edged Darien, Danbury and St. Joseph to finish the regular season 18-0.

"It's always great to race tough competition," Ostberg said. "You can never see the extent of what kind of runner you are unless you face solid competition. I love to face people who are better than me because it challenges you to be a better runner."

Johnston led her still-undefeated Blue Wave to their 16th, 17th and 18th wins, capping off a perfect regular season.

Johnston's win was never in doubt, as she finished 53 seconds in front of the runner-up, Staples' Erica Hefnawy.

Hefnawy also had a comfortable hold on second place from start to finish, and she clocked in at 19:30, which was 29 seconds clear of Darien's Kate Halabi, who took third.

"It's a really nice course, and it's nice that it's a 5k because we never really do those," Hefnawy said. "I was so excited."

Ostberg claimed the individual win by finishing 29 seconds in front of Staples' Oliver Hickson and Darien's Armstrong Noonan, who were neck-and-neck down the stretch and crossed the line in 15:55 for second and third place, respectively.

"Today was a great competition," Ostberg said. "Not only between a bunch of individuals, but there's a great team battle, too. It's a fun environment to be in. The FCIAC is super-competitive and it's great to be a part of it."

Claiming fourth place was Danbury's Ryan Ansel, who finished in 16:08.

"I felt pretty good," Ansel said. "There were a lot of good runners in this race, so I just tried to put myself up there with them. Running with Ostberg and Oliver Hickson is going to make you more emotionally prepared for what's to come (in the postseason)."

Given that Wednesday's race was the regular-season finale, both the Darien and Staples girls squads enjoyed facing one another so close to the postseason.

"A lot of girls ended up with a season-best time on this course," Staples girls coach Amanda Morgan said. "This is our last hard effort before FCIACs, so I thought it worked out well to be a more competitive meet."

Darien and Staples were both ranked in the Top 10 in the state coaches poll coming into the meet, with the Blue Wave sixth and the Wreckers fourth.

"I think we're pretty evenly matched," Hefnawy said. "Hannah (Delbasi) didn't race today, and we had another girl who wasn't able to race today. We didn't have everyone, but I think we're in good position to place high at FCIACs."

"It's nice to run some good teams head-to-head," Norris said. "We know who's who and who can really do what."

The boys also favored top-notch competition to close out the campaign. Coming into the meet, Danbury, Staples and Darien had posted a combined record of 44-1 and were ranked second, fourth and sixth in the state, respectively.

"We knew it was going to be a great meet," Staples boys coach Laddie Lawrence said. "Darien has those two great frontrunners, Danbury has a great pack of five and we can be hot and cold. I think we were a little hot today."

"If you put yourself up with runners who are better than you, you're just going to get better," Ansel said. "They got away from me in the end. We were a little disappointed (finishing second to Staples). It'll definitely give us a little fire underneath us, but I think it'll be good for us."

jchik@newstimes.com; Twitter: @jchik17

cross country meet

(at St. Joseph, 5k)

Girls

Darien 26, Staples 31; Darien 17, Danbury 46; Darien 15, St. Joseph 50; Staples 16, Danbury 47; Staples 15, St. Joseph 50; Danbury 16, St. Joseph 45

1. Anne Johnston (Darien) 18:37; 2. Erica Hefnawy (Staples) 19:30; 3. Kate Halabi (Darien) 19:59; 4. Susannah Martin (Staples) 20:06; 5. Amanda Percarpio (Darien) 20:12; 6. Katharine Smith (Staples) 20:32; 7. Elisabeth French (Staples) 20:32; 8. Abigail Llanos (Danbury) 21:01; 9. Emilia Callery (Darien) 21:06; 10. Lindsey Holek (Darien) 21:14; 11. Erika Osherow (Darien) 21:22; 12. Kristen Mayhew (Darien) 21:28; 13. Nicole Caputo (Darien) 21:43; 14. Samantha Savage (Darien) 21:45; 15. Sarina Gresten (Danbury) 21:55; 16. Samantha Little (Staples) 21:57; 17. Melissa Alvarado (Staples) 22:21; 18. Madeline Demeter (Staples) 22:25; 19. Samantha Mazzone (Darien) 22:34; 20. Fleur Byrne (Staples) 22:40.

Boys

Staples 23, Danbury 32; Staples 24, Darien 37; Staples 17, St. Joseph 46; Danbury 25, Darien 32; Danbury 19, St. Joseph 44; Darien 18, St. Joseph 45.

1. Alex Ostberg (Darien) 15:26; 2. Oliver Hickson (Staples) 15:55; 3. Armstrong Noonan (Darien) 15:55; 4. Ryan Ansel (Danbury) 16:08; 5. Jake Berman (Staples) 16:14; 6. James Lewis (Staples) 16:14; 7. James Mas (St. Joseph) 16:25; 8. Eric Waterman (Danbury) 16:25; 9. Ryan Fox (Danbury) 16:30; 10. Brandon Harrington (Staples) 16:38; 11. Benjamin Foster (Staples) 16:41; 12. Corey Mullins (Danbury) 16:43; 13. Unknown (Danbury) 16:48; 14. Luis Cruz (Staples) 17:11; 15. Daniel Landy (Staples) 17:13; 16. Zakeer Ahmad 17:22; 17. John Murray (Darien) 17:28; 18. Pedro Pereira (Danbury) 17:32; 19. Brendan Triano (Darien) 17:32; 20. Carter Ashcraft (Darien) 17:35.