Staples boys run like No. 1 cross country team in the state
The bus ride to Waveny Park in New Canaan provided all the motivation the Staples High School boys cross country team needed Tuesday.
“During the bus ride, I got the news that we were voted No. 1 in the state boys cross country poll for the first time this season,” Staples coach Laddie Lawrence said. “We were all happy to hear the news. But I still think the best time to be No. 1 in the poll is the day AFTER the State Open.”
Well, that scenario is a distinct possibility considering the way the Wreckers’ army ran Tuesday.
Staples High captured the top seven places in a dominant performance over the scenic 3.1 mile Waveny Park course on its way to FCIAC victories over previously unbeaten Warde, Ludlowe, New Canaan and Trinity Catholic.
Senior Chase Gornbein led the focused Staples contingent across the finish line in 16:40. He was followed in quick succession by Ahmad Zakeer, Brandon Harrington, Ben Foster, Will Landowne, Benjamin Seiple and James Lewis.
“We want to run as a very tight pack. And we went out the way we wanted. We ran to a 17 second spread between No. 1 and No. 7 last Saturday (Bowdoin Park Classic, Wappinger Falls, N.Y.),” Lawrence said.
“We did well as a group,” said Warde coach Tim Foster after his team improved to 9-1. “We had a good pack mentality. But today you just have to have so much respect for Staples. Their performance showed why they are ranked No. 1 in the state.”
The top finisher for Ludlowe was Ben Ertel (15th).
New Canaan (9-3) was running shorthanded Tuesday.
“We’ve been depleted by injury the last 10 days,” said New Canaan coach Bill Martin. “One runner has a broken collarbone. Another has hip trouble. And a third guy is out now. The kids worked hard, especially in the offseason. But we’re very young. We took our lumps today. But when we get healthy, we’ll be better at the end of the season.”
Trinity Catholic is rebuilding its cross country program under Dave Chiappetta.
Trinity Catholic junior captain Steven Caponetti showed great leadership in Tuesday’s race.
“A Ludlowe runner went to the ground in the woods injuring his ankle. I decided staying with him was more important than finishing the race,” Caponetti recounted. “The coaches came for him after a short while. Coach Chiappetta tells us ‘Practice your morals first then preactice running.’ Leaving the injured runner there didn’t sit well with me so I feel I made the right decision. The bond between runners is as important as the bond we’re forming on the Trinity Catholic squad.”
But Tuesday everybody was chasing Staples.
“There is still so much time left to go this season. There are lots of big races ahead,” Staples’ Lawrence said. “The top six teams in the state are very close. On any given day, any one can beat another if someone doesn’t run their best.”
INDIVIDUIAL TOP 16: 1. Chase Gornbein (Stap) 16:40; 2. Ahmad Zakeer (Stap); 3. Brandon Harrington (Stap); 4. Ben Foster (Stap); 5. Will Landowne (Stap); 6. Benjamin Seiple (Stap); 7. James Lewis (Stap); 8. Michael St. George (NC); 9. Charles Kieffer (Warde); 10. Alex Mocarski (Warde); 11. Roman Colao (Warde); 12. Sunil Green (Stap); 13. Will Brisman (Warde); 14. Jackson Stearns (Warde); 15. Ben Ertel (Ludlowe); 16. Chase Leppla (Warde).
Records: Staples 10-0. Warde 9-1; New Canaan 9-3. Course: Waveny Park, 3.1 miles.