Staples ski teams gear up for State Open
Published 11:26 am, Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Staples boys ski team coach Courtney Ruggiero knew she would have a strong group heading into the 2014-2015 season. Returning a strong core that missed out on a state title by fractions of a second, Staples appeared it would be in a good place to dominate the following regular season.
And that's what the Wreckers did, rolling to an undefeated 26-0 season which was recently completed with a win over Fairfield Prep (273.96-276.18) after falling to the Jesuits in a meet which the two weren't scored against one another.
"I think that we've had a good team for the last four years, but this year it seems everyone stepped up their game," Ruggiero said. "They were definitely motivated by losing to Fairfield Prep in one of the races we weren't technically racing against them."
The defeat in last years' State Open also served as motivation to a strong campaign this winter. Greenwich came away with a massive upset by the slimmest of margins (298.63-298.76) last March.
Campbell Ashman leads a deep squad that had five of the top eight finishers in the meet with Prep and eight other schools. Ashman, a junior, has won three of the four meets the Wreckers have competed in.
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"(Ashman) is really confident and appears to be relaxed enough when he skis, he doesn't overthink things," Ruggiero said. "While at the same time he has such a great foundation of skills that he's gotten from many years of competing."
Ben Friedman, Matt Bateman, Jack Reichhelm, Trevor Harker and Grant Sirlin have also been vital contributors to the Wreckers' cause this season, helping complete a deep lineup capable of matching any team in the state.
"Campbell has been a standout, which is helpful, but I still have nine guys that are on any given week," Ruggiero said. "That makes it a lot easier when they score six out of 10 of your guys; you don't have to worry about falls."
The successful regular season sets the Wreckers up nicely for this year's State Open, which takes place at Mt. Southington March 4. Ruggiero, in her fifth year as coach, hasn't tasted the success of a State Open title.
"We're really excited," Ruggiero said. "It's a lot of pressure doing so well in the regular season; we've achieved major goals already. We're ready to step up."
The girls team also had a positive season, placing in second or third during most of its meets this winter. Jacqueline Chappo and Sophia Gerrard leads a group hoping to dethrone Fairfield as State Open champions.