AVON – Fisher Meadows has never been an easy place for the Canton High boys cross country team to win a dual meet against Avon. Under head coach Tim O’Donnell, the Warriors visited Fisher Meadows seven times prior to Tuesday’s meet and had lost five times to the Falcons.
On Tuesday, Canton made its final trip to Fisher Meadows a memorable one with a solid 23-32 win over the Falcons to remain one of two undefeated teams in the NCCC. The Warriors had three runners among the top five, including race winner James Yost, his twin brother Dean who finished second and Jake Whittingslow, who was fifth. Zach Oliver and Ethan Porter were a second apart and finished ninth and tenth, respectively.
Avon is leaving the NCCC for the Central Connecticut Conference next fall. The two teams may meet in weekend invitational events in the future but the chances of competing in a dual meet are small. The long-time series that began with the boys in 1968 and the girls in 1973 looks to be complete.
“We survived,” joked O’Donnell after the race. “We’ve lost to Avon three times here in years we beat them at the league championship meet.”
The Avon High girls cross country team, the three-time defending league champion, easily beat Canton for the 17th time in the last 18 years with a 16-49 decision. A few days after having a 44-meet winning streak snapped by Suffield, the Falcons improved to 8-1 with easy wins over Canton, Enfield and East Granby. Led by senior Molly Hamel, who won her second dual meet of the season, the Falcons had seven finishers in the top 10. Canton beat Enfield and East Granby to improve to 6-3.
It’s been a competitive series between the Canton and Avon boys cross country teams over the past 15 years. Twice, Avon has won by one point, 27-28. In 2012, the Falcons beat Canton, 26-31.
Canton (9-0) was too strong on this sunny afternoon. James Yost won the race in 16:33 over the 3.1 mile course at Fisher Meadows with his brother, Dean, taking second in 16:46. Avon was led by Colin Pritchard, who was third in 16:52, and Andrew Suter, who was fourth in 16:58. Brian St. Jean was sixth. But Canton took three of the next four spots to clinch the race. Will Briggs was seventh while Zach Oliver and Ethan Porter were ninth and 10th, respectively.
“It was a little bittersweet to lose,” Pritchard said. “But you can’t complain about a race that had most of us run PRs (personal best) times.” Prichard, Suter and St. Jean all ran personal bests by a significant margin.
“It was such a strong showing,” Pritchard said. “When you have such fast competitors, there is no way not to PR.”
Canton also easily beat East Granby, 15-50 and Enfield, 15-43. The next big challenge will be undefeated and defending league champion Ellington on Oct. 8 at Stratton Brook Park in Simsbury in the final regular season dual meet of the season. The two teams will meet again at the NCCC championship meet on Saturday, Oct. 18. Teams earn points for each team they beat in the dual meet season and in the league championship meet.
Avon coach Cortney Fusco was pleased with his team’s performance. The Falcons improved to 8-1 on the season. They face Ellington next Wednesday at Fisher Meadow. “I was very happy how the kids ran,” he said. “It stings to get your first loss but that wasn’t totally unexpected. A lot of runners are seeing the fruit of their labor. There were a lot of improvement which is the most important thing.”
A week ago, Suffield handed the Avon girls their first dual meet loss since 2010. The Falcons had little trouble beginning another winning streak on Tuesday with wins over Canton, 16-49, East Granby, 15-50 and Enfield, 15-50. “They really ran a great race today,” Avon coach Al Dadario said. “The name of the game is to get better and them running as a group so they can compete for the NCCC championship and compete for a state championship.”
Hamel easily won her second dual meet of the season beating teammate Christina Martin by over a minute. Hamel won in 19:04 over the 3.1 mile course. Martin and Ryley Higgins were second and third, respectively, followed by Gabriella Colletti (5th), Rachael Martin (6th) and Kristen Goldie (7th). Avon had eight of the top 10 runners in the race.
Avon (8-1) lost four starters and two All-State runners from last year’s team. “We have kids who were running junior varsity last year who are contributing this year,” Dadario said. “It is amazing how they have picked up the slack. It shows what we are about. We’re a resilient team.”
Avon will get another chance to beat Suffield at the league championship meet.
NOTES: In the last 22 seasons, the Canton boys own a 15-7 edge over the Falcons while the Avon girls own a 20-2 advantage over the Warriors. … The last win by the Canton girls over Avon was in 2006, a five-point decision, 26-31. … The Canton girls won four of the first five meetings in the 1970s and the only match they lost was a 27-28 decision in 1975.
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Canton 24, Avon 32
Canton 15, East Granby 50
Canton 15, Enfield 43
Avon 16, Enfield 47
Avon 15, East Granby 50
Enfield 23, East Granby 32|
Individual results – 1. James Yost (C) 16:33 for 3.1 miles at Fisher Meadows in Avon, 2. Dean Yost (C) 16:46, 3. Colin Pritchard (A) 16:52, 4. Andrew Suter (A) 16:58, 5. Jake Whittingslow (C) 17:01, 6. Brian St. Jean (A) 17:11, 7. Will Briggs (A) 17:16, 8. Kurt Goldie (A) 17:35, 9. Zach Oliver (C) 17:42, 10. Ethan Porter (C) 17:43; 11. Connor Shanahan (Enf) 17;52, 12. Brett Holtzman (A) 17:56, 13. Greg Oberhausen (A) 17:56, 14. Jack Stokesbury (A) 18:05, 15. James Grant (A) 18:16
Records: Canton 9-0, Avon 8-1, Enfield 3-5, East Granby 1-7
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Avon 16, Canton 49
Avon 15, East Granby 50
Avon 15, Enfield 50
Canton 15, Enfield 50
Canton 26, East Granby 29
East Granby 15, Enfield 50
Individual results – 1. Molly Hamel (A) 19:04 for 3.1 miles at Fisher Meadows, 2. Christina Martin (A) 20:15, 3. Ryley Higgins (A) 20:25, 4. Farhiyl (Enf) 20:34, 5. Gabriella Colletti (A) 20:39, 6. Rachael Martin (A) 21:05, 7. Kristen Goldie (A) 21:14, 8. Emily Briggs (C) 21:20, 9. Gillian Reyes (A) 21:22, 10. Erin McGuire (A) 21:30; 11. Jocelyn Rossitto (C), 12. Allie Davis (EG), 13. Sarah Levla (A) 22:20, 14. Ashley Martin (A) 23:07, 15. Risa Lewis (A) 23:31
Records: Avon 8-1, Canton 6-3, East Granby 2-6, Enfield 0-7