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After honoring Andrew, Avon runners have a perfect afternoon

AVON, Sept. 15  – It was a beautiful day for the season opening meet for the Avon High cross country team at Fisher Meadows. The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and there were wisps of white clouds streaking through the deep, blue sky.

Runners from Avon’s boys and girls cross country team release purple balloons in honor of the late Mellissa Andrew before the season opening meet at Fisher Meadows in Avon.

And there were a few tears. Before the meet with Granby, Coventry and Windsor Locks, Avon High girls cross country coach Al Daddario gathered the Falcons around him. Each of the nearly 60 runners had a purple balloon in their hands and Daddario said a few words to remember Mellisa Andrew, one of the team’s senior co-captains, who died in an August car crash in Burlington.

Daddario’s voice was soft and his message was meant for the team. When he finished, the runners raised their hands and let their purple balloons sail up into the air. At the start line, a small bouquet of flowers was left in Andrew’s memory.

When the race began, the Avon boys and girls teams came away with impressive opening day victories. Each team came away with three victories.

Last fall, the Avon girls earned a share of the league championship with Granby and Suffield. But five of the top seven runners graduated including Class M champion Claire Smith. Still, Avon (3-0, 3-0 NCCC) was able to come away with a 24-33 win over Granby and dominating wins over Windsor Locks and Coventry. Granby (2-1, 2-1) beat Locks and Coventry.

With three freshmen finishing among the top seven, Avon had six runners in the top 10. Freshman Rachael Rosow set a new course record beating Granby’s defending Class SS champion Desiree Piette by 31 seconds with a time of 18:46 over 3.1 miles, snapping Smith’s record set a year ago at 19:53.

Avon senior Emily Kelly was third in 20:11 followed by Granby’s Ashley Piccirillo-Horan and Avon freshman Madi Zapatka and Granby’s Alexa Cipka. But Avon won with Sarah Stokesbury, Tara Molson and Sam Silverman taking three of the next four places.

Runners race to the finish line at Fisher Meadows

In the boys race, Chris Carlson and Jeff Demurs placed first and second, respectively, as Avon (3-0, 3-0 NCCC) put five runners in the top 10. The Falcons beat Granby, 23-36, topped Coventry, 20-39 and whipped Windsor Locks, 15-50. Granby (2-1, 2-1) beat Coventry and Locks, too.

Carlson won his 3.1 mile race in 17:26 with Demurs 14 seconds off the pace. Granby’s Dave Bugbee was third and Chris Cutler finished fifth. Jeff Wang (sixth), Mike Oberhausen (ninth) and Will Schroeder (tenth) rounded out the top 10 for Avon.


The two teams also participated in the 32nd annual Haddad Windham Invitational on Saturday in Willimantic. The girls were sixth in the Varsity 2 race with Roscow taking third in 19:24 followed by Kelly (31, 22:10) and Zapatka (32, 22:15). On the boys side, Avon was fifth in the Varsity 2 race led by Peter Suter (15th, 17:27), Matt Reagan (27, 17:54) and Carlson (28, 17:58).

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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