Canton takes historic fourth at State Open, qualifies for New Englands
MANCHESTER, Nov. 6 – The greatest season in Canton High’s cross country program continues for another week.
A week ago, the Warriors were disappointed with their performance despite finishing second in Class SS, five points shy of Weston. It put a slight damper on the performance of senior Mike LeDuc, the first Canton runner to win a state title in cross country.
On Friday, Canton turned its best-ever performance at the State Open at Wickham Park finishing fourth, just three points out of third place. LeDuc, who was in the top 10 for much of the race, finished 15th and earned All-State honors despite falling on some pavement about a quarter of a mile from the finish of 3.1 mile course.
Despite the fall, LeDuc still finished two seconds than he ran a week ago in 16:27. The remaining five runners that competed in the Class SS race a week ago each beat their time by at least 16 seconds.
“This was much more of what we are capable of doing,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell said. “They’re pretty happy.”
Xavier-Middletown won its 11th State Open title and first since 1999 with three runners in the top 30, outdueling Class L champion New Milford, 116-120. Amity of Woodbridge (6th in Class LL last week) was third with 202 points while Canton was fourth with 205. Hamden (2nd Class LL) was fifth with 209 points.
Weston, who beat Canton by five points for the Class SS championship a week ago, finished ninth with 243 points.
With the fourth place finish, Canton secures its first-ever berth to the New England championships, which will be at Wickham Park on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 11:30 a.m. The top six teams qualified.
Canton senior Brian Magna finished in 31st place in 16:52, which was 16 seconds than his time from the Class SS race. Kevin Kurnat was 73rd in 17:25 but he cut 39 seconds off his time. Jon Cahill (80, 17:31) improved by 29 seconds, Ned Furtney (106, 17:46) cut his time by 20 seconds and Nick Chekas (126, 18:02) cut his time by 19 seconds. Evan Camporeale (176, 19:30) didn’t run in the Class SS race.
Among the teams that will be sitting home is defending New England champion Danbury, a Class LL team that finished eighth in the Open.
Canton’s appearance at the New England tournament is a big deal for a school the size of Canton. The Warriors are a Class SS squad but they are the smallest size school in the division. One less boy in the school and Canton would have been competing in Class S.
No Class S team has ever qualified for the New England tournament and just three Class SS teams have qualified. Griswold has qualified five times as a Class SS school with its most recent appearance in 2005. Tolland qualified in 1992.
Canton’s performance in the State Open is very unique and noteworthy. Griswold took third in 1993 and a pair of fourth place finishes in 1994 and 2002.
SMITH EARNS ALL-STATE HONORS: Avon senior Claire Smith earned All-State honors with a 17th place finish in 19:33 on the 3.1 mile course. She cut 31 seconds of the time she won the Class MM championship with a week ago.
Class MM boys