Wreckers place 8th, sends three runners to NEs
Three Staples cross country runners are heading to the New England championships.
Staples boys cross country runners Henry Wynne and Mikolaj Kulis and Caroline Koenig of the girls country team will head to Ponaganset High School in North Scituate, R.I. tomorrow for the New England Interscholastic Cross Country championships after placing in the top 25 at the State Open championships at Hammonasset State Park in Madison Tuesday.
Originally, the race was supposed to be last Friday at Wickham Park in Manchester but the damage caused from the recent snowstorm changed the venue. The new venue suited the junior Wynne, who won the FCIAC championship Oct. 24, perfectly. He placed third in the 3.1-mile course with a time of 15:50.
"We've been training hard and I like the course more than I like the Wickham [Park] course," Wynne said. "I'm happy with how I finished but I started out slow."
Wynne's slow start can be attributed to being boxed in at the start of the race. He recovered and in the end, was only defeated by two Fairfield seniors in the 180-boy field, Fairfield Prep's Connor Rog (15:22) and Fairfield Warde's Harry Warnick (15:35).
"I wanted to stay close to Harry Warnick," Wynne said. "We went out in two packs and I was in the second pack. If I was in the first pack, I would have trailed off of Harry Warnick like I did before; I would have had a better chance of beating him. I felt I could have beat him but I ran out of time."
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Warnick was the only one to beat Wynne during the dual meet season but at FCIACs, Wynne edged Warnick for the title in a record-breaking performance for Waveny Park at the FCIAC championships.
Although Wynne fell short to Warnick, he did win his rematch against Newtown's Jake Feinstein (15:58), who finished fifth. Feinstein (16:10) was second to Wynne's (16:13) third at the Class LL championships at Wickham Oct. 29.
"It felt good to beat Feinstein," Wynne said.
The senior captain Kulis (16:18) took 16th overall.
"It felt good," Kulis said. "It was a tough race and I'm happy to be considered. I followed my summer training, that allowed me to get through this part of the season and to get me to where I'm at. This course was a lot flatter than Wickham and it's a lot easier and faster. The conditions were a lot better than Class LL and the course is more like the course I'm used too."
Koenig (19:33) placed 25th out of 189 runners in the girls State Open. She was the only Staples girl to compete.
"I drank lots of water and prepared well for it," Koenig said. "I got lots of sleep and girls came and cheered me on, which was nice and helpful."
Because of the storm-caused postponements, three state meets had to take place before State Open and those who ran in the state meet and qualified for open, had their time at states, count for opens. Therefore, they needed to calculate first to determine if Koenig made New Englands.
"I was very nervous and I had to wait 15 minutes before I found out I made it," Koenig said. "This year has been very good."
Lady Wreckers coach Kristin Scott said, "Caroline, as usual, was intense and competitive for her race -- truly a dream to coach. She ran hard, smart and left nothing in reserve. She's a great example of what hard work and dedication can bring."
The Staples boys also competed as a team, placing eighth with 214 points, edging ninth-place Newtown (232), a team it lost to at Class LL. Prep (120) won convincingly.
"We're very pleased with our finish," Wreckers coach Laddie Lawrence said. "We were ranked 15th going into the meet and to have two All-Staters was very amazing."
Staples placed ninth at Class LL and lost to New Milford and Simsbury at Class LL. At State Open, the Wreckers turned the tables and beat 10th place New Milford (246) and 12th place Simsbury (267).
"We picked a lot of spots and the conditions were more to our liking," Kulis said.
Wynne and Kulis were second and ninth, respectively as far as team scoring was tallied (many ran as individuals). Juniors Marcus Russi (17:07), Patrick Nolan (17:28) and Brad Payne (17:35) placed 49th, 69th and 85th to round out the team scoring. Junior Sam Cohen (18:09) and senior captain David Haswell (18:24) also competed and were 111th and 117th, respectively.
The three Staples runners have high hopes of doing well at New Englands -- especially Wynne.
"That's going to be a big race," Wynne said. "I hope I can implement my tactics and stay close to Warnick. A top 10 finish is great even though I don't know any of the runners from the other states."
Lawrence said, "If this holds true to form, they will do well because Connecticut runners always do well at New Englands."