FARMINGTON, Sept. 16 – The season is young and the hopes are high for the Avon High boys and girls cross country teams. The campaign got off to a fine start last week on the sandy paths of Winding Trails in Farmington.
The Avon girls placed five runners in the top seven as they easily beat Bolton, 21-48, Stafford, 15-50 and Coventry, 15-50. The Avon boys did well nipping Coventry, 29-30 and shutting out Stafford, 15-50. But they came up short in a 25-30 defeat to Bolton.
Coach Al Daddario has a young girls team that he hopes can contend for its second NCCC championship in the past three years. The Falcons (3-0, 3-0 NCCC) shared a piece of the championship in 2009.
The Falcons looked sharp in its season opening sweep. Sophomore Rachael Rosow remained undefeated in dual meets with her sixth career victory, racing over the 3-mile course in 19:31. Sophomore Sara Stokesbury was second in 20:20.
Freshman Molly Hamel was fourth in 20:46 with junior Katie McIntyre (21:20) and sophomore Madison Zapatka (21:47) rounding out Avon’s top five runners.
“It’s a young team,” Daddario said. “We always try to beat Ellington and Suffield but it’s an uphill climb. Our runners worked hard this summer and it really shows. If they stay with it and peak at the right time, we’ll be all right.”
Defending league champion Ellington looms as the favorite. The Knights have virtually their entire team back and last fall, they had eight straight runners finish second through ninth place to beat the Falcons, 20-41. Can the Falcons break up the pack and score some points? Avon ran against Ellington on Tuesday.
On the boys side, coach Gene Macy is hoping his Falcon team can take the next step and stand among the elite teams in the NCCC. Avon finished tied for second in the league in 2005 but hasn’t come closer than fourth place since.
Macy is banking on a competitive spirit to drive his team. He has 39 runners on the team, ensuring that no spot in the seven-man varsity lineup is secure.
“We really would like to crack into that top three in the conference,” he said. Two-time defending champion Canton, Suffield, Ellington and Bolton loom as the teams at the top of the league.
Junior Jeff Demers was Avon’s top runner Wednesday, taking third in 17:02. Senior Matt Mascoli was seventh in 17:30 while senior Sean Deneen was ninth in 17:39. A second off the pace was junior Mike Oberhausen in10th place. Senior Eric Spencer (14, 18:14), sophomore Jack Wendler (15, 18:21) and Conor Wise (18, 18:36) rounded out the top seven for the Falcons.
Avon beat Coventry by a point thanks to Spencer beating out a Coventry runner by six seconds for 14th place. But against Bolton, the Bulldogs were took strong with three runners among the top five and five in the top nine finishers.
Teams earn one point for each team they beat in a league dual meet and one point for each team they beat at the league championship meet in October in Windsor Locks.
Avon held the meet at Winding Trails because Fisher Meadows was unavailable due to the recent flooding of the Farmington River.
On Saturday, Avon participated in the 33rd annual Haddan Windham Invitational. The Falcon girls looked sharp, taking second in the Varsity II race with 69 points. Cheshire won the race with 56 points. Rosow finished second in 19:31 while Stokesbury was sixth in 20:11. On the boys side, the Avon boys took seventh in the Varsity II race.