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Canton defends its title

Warriors win 2nd straight NCCC championship with five runners in the top 15

WINDSOR LOCKS, Oct. 22 – A year ago, the strength of the Canton High boys cross country was overshadowed by the excellence of Mike LeDuc and Brian Magna, a pair of All-State runners who were always a threat to win an overall race.

In 2009, Canton captured its first championship in boys cross country thanks to LeDuc, Magna and a hard-working group of teammates with similar speed that refused to back down. At last year’s NCCC championship meet, Canton placed five runners in the top 10.

On Friday, the pack mentality of the Warriors lifted Canton to its second straight NCCC championship with a three-point win over Suffield, 59-62. Canton’s first five runners crossed the finish line in a span of 39 seconds beginning with Nick Chekas in fifth place with a time of 16:47 over the 3.1-mile course and concluding with Kevin Kurnat taking 15th in 17:26.

If Suffield had finished ahead of Canton, they would have shared the league championship with the Warriors.

Canton’s Ned Furtney (12th place, 17:11), Jon Melite (13, 17:21) and Kurnat (15, 17:26) finished less than a minute ahead of Suffield’s Conner Gates and Jimmy Clark, who came in 16th and 17th in the race. Kurnat beat Suffield’s Connor Gates by five seconds and Jimmy Clark by nine seconds, respectively.

If Gates or Clark finish ahead of Furtney, Melite or Kurnat, Suffield wins the meet and earns a share of the championship.“It’s all about the team,” Furtney said. “It’s not about who does the best (individually), it’s about the team. We all move up together.”

The Warriors train together, race together and attack together on the race course. All five earned All-NCCC honors by finishing in the top 15. Jon Cahill finished ninth.

“They work well together,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell said. “They’re training hard and they’re focused.”

Canton becomes just the fourth boys team in the last 40 years to successful defend a league championship. The last Canton team to win multiple league titles was the wrestling team that won three straight NCCC crowns from 1995-97. The boys basketball team won back-to-back Northwest Conference Division II titles in 1981 and 1982.

The Warriors will try for an elusive state championship on Friday in the CIAC Class SS race at Wickham Park in Manchester. Canton has finished second for the past two seasons to Weston.

“We still ran them hard this week,” O’Donnell said. “We exploded on this course last year when we didn’t have to.”

Adam Seften became the first Bolton runner to win a NCCC championship with a 17 second win over Suffield’s Daniel Moroney. Avon, led by senior Chris Carlson in seventh place, finished fifth in the meet with 107 points. Granby, sparked by Chris Cutler in eighth place and David Bugbee in 11th place, finished sixth in the field of 14 runners with 111 points.

“Everyone ran well,” Avon coach Gene Macy said. “Every runner had a personal best. They ran great as a pack together.” Avon’s Jeff Wang (21), Sean Deneen (24) and Mike Oberhausen (25) and Bobbie Davies (29) each finished in a span of 14 seconds of each other.

On the girls side, Avon finished third in the meet and overall in the league behind champion Ellington (35 points) and Suffield (59) with 73 points. Granby took fourth with 80 points while Canton was sixth with 138 points.

Avon freshman Rachael Rosow finished second in the race as Ellington sophomore Jennifer Hullstein caught Rosow in the final 800 meters to earn a six-second victory in 19:29 over the 3.1-mile course. Rosow set the pace from the beginning and it was fast, hard pace.

“This race when out fast and it went out hard,” Granby coach Wally Hansen said. “They did the first mile in under six minutes. We want to be aggressive but that was a little bit too aggressive.”

Granby senior Desiree Piette finished second in this race a year ago. This year, she finished sixth in 20:06 to lead the Bears. Teammate Ashley Piccirillo (9th, 20:24) and Alexa Cipkas (12th, 20:39) finished in the top 15 to earn All-NCCC honors.

Avon freshman Sara Stokesbury (13th, 20:43) and Canton senior Deanna Nappi (15th, 20:45) also earned All-NCCC honors. Canton’s Kendra Asklof (16th, 20:58 and Avon’s Madison Zapatka (17th, 21:10) just missed all-league honors.

“We did well,” Avon coach Al Dadarrio said. “We turned a corner a few weeks ago after Ellington beat us. The girls made a commitment. They set goals for themselves and their times improved.”

NCCC Championships
At Windsor Locks
Team results – 1. Canton 59, 2. Suffield 62, 3. Bolton 86, 4. Ellington 99, 5. Avon 107, 6. Granby 111, 7. Coventry 237, 8. Stafford 267, 9. Somers 271, 10. Enfield 283, 11. East Granby 334, 12. East Windsor 334, 13. Windsor Locks 339
Individual results
1. Adam Seften, Bolton, 16:04 for 3.1 miles at Windsor Locks; 2. Daniel Moroney, Suffield, 16:21; 3. Denis Labarre, Suffield, 16:35; 4. Brendan Callahan, Bolton 16:41
Canton runners: 5. Nick Chekas 16:47, 9. Jon Cahill 16:58; 12. Ned Furtney 17:11; 13. Jon Melite 17:21; 15. Kevin Kurnat 17:26
Avon runners: 7. Chris Carlson 16:58, 20. Jeff Wang 17:40, 23. Sean Deneen 17:46; 24. Mike Oberhausen 17:49, 28. Bobbie Davies 17:54
Overall league results (one point for every dual meet win, one point for each team beaten at the NCCC meet): 1. Canton 24, 2. Suffield 22, 3. Bolton 20, 4. Ellington 17, 5. Avon 16, 6. Granby 15, 7. Coventry 12, 8. Enfield and Somers 8, 10. Stafford 6, 11. East Granby 5, 12. East Windsor 2, 13. Windsor Locks 1

Team results – 1. Ellington 35, 2. Suffield 59, 3. Avon 73, 4. Granby 80, 5. Bolton 127, 6. Canton 138, 7. East Granby 191, 8. Stafford 256, 9. Somers 271, 10. East Windsor 310
Individual results
1. Jennifer Hulstein, Ellington 19:29 for 3.1 miles at Windsor Locks, 2. Rachael Rosow, Avon, 19:35, 3. Elizabeth Rigby, Suffield, 19:56, 4. Sarah Wilson, Suffield, 20:03; 5. Kayla Sagarlata, Ellington, 20:03
Avon runners: 2. Rosow, 13. Sara Stokesbury, 20:43, 17. Madison Zapatka 21:10, 19. Sarah Lim 21:17, 22. Emily Kelly 22:08
Canton runners: 15. Deanna Nappi 20:45, 16. Kendra Asklof 20:58, 29. Jessie Chance 22:03, 39. Rose Minichello 23:38, 42. Meg Casey 23:47

Overall league results (one point for every dual meet win, one point for each team beaten at the NCCC meet): 1. Ellington 24, 2. Suffield 22, 3. Avon 20, 4. Granby 19, 5. Bolton 16, 6. Canton 14, 7. East Granby 12, 8. Stafford 8, 9. Somers 7, 10. East Windsor 6

2009 NCCC championship meet results

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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