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Sparks is first Canton boy to win NCCC title; Canton girls are close 2nd in NCCC

Canton's Max Sparks (367) won the NCCC cross country championship on Friday in Windsor Locks. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

Canton’s Max Sparks (367) won the NCCC cross country championship on Friday in Windsor Locks. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

WINDSOR LOCKS, Oct. 21 – In the middle of the championship race of the NCCC boys cross country race, Canton junior Max Sparks took the wrong turn. He and three other contenders went in the wrong direction.

But he didn’t panic, nor did his fellow competitors. They quickly skidded to a halt, regrouped and chased the leaders and resumed the race. Sparks surged in the final mile to become the first Canton boy to capture a conference championship in cross country with a win at the NCCC championships.

Sparks won the race in 16:39 – his fastest time yet this fall. Sparks beat Ellington senior David Clavet (16:48), the defending league champion, by nine seconds and his teammate Thomas Arbeiter (16:54) by 15 seconds.

In the girls race, the Canton girls cross country team fell short in its bid to get past Ellington, 41-49. The Purple Knights had four runners in the top 11 to hold off the Warriors and capture their first NCCC championship since 2010.

Sparks won the race despite running on a sore ankle that he rolled playing some basketball earlier in the week. Sparks and the leaders made their wrong turn at the halfway point of the race near Windsor Locks’ track in full view of most spectators.

Within the next half mile, Sparks regained the lead. In the final mile of the race, he pulled away. “He has speed, not blinding speed and has good endurance,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell said. “He has been a very attentive runner. We provide him suggestions and he does well.”

It’s Sparks first season on the team. He played two years of junior varsity soccer before joining the team this fall. He has run on the track and field team the past two seasons.

Sparks is the first Canton runner to win a conference title. Mike Leduc (2010) and Chris Bussiere (2004) each finished second in the NCCC. Leduc finished second with a time of 16:03.

Canton's Emily Briggs (341) and Belle Magna run in Friday's NCCC championship race in Windsor Locks. The Warriors finished second to Ellington. (Photo courtesy BIll Brewster)

Canton’s Emily Briggs (341) and Belle Magna run in Friday’s NCCC championship race in Windsor Locks. The Warriors finished second to Ellington. (Photo courtesy BIll Brewster)

The Canton girls were looking for their first conference title since taking the Northwest Conference championship 37 years ago in 1979. But the Purple Knights were a bit too strong.

Ellington junior Lie Guerette and Jenni Giacalone finished third and fourth, respectively, with Canton’s Emily Briggs in fifth place about 12 seconds behind the two runners.

Canton’s Belle Magna (20:55) and Helena Winkler (20:57) were seventh and eighth but Ellington had Kathryn Bonanno (10th, 21:06) and Allison Hill (13, 21:25) come in before Abby Briggs (14, 21:38).

Ellington’s Kate Walder was the fifth runner in for the Knights in 16th place in 21:54, twelve seconds faster than Canton’s fifth place runner Cameron McCauley in 19th place and 22:12.

“We got some good races,” O’Donnell said. “We needed great races across the board. We didn’t catch some of the girls we needed to catch.”

Ellington beat Canton, 18-38 in week one of the season. The Warriors were much closer on Friday.

Ellington ran the table in the dual meet season (11-0) to earn 11 points and they took another 11 points by winning the championship meet for 22 points. Canton (10-1) finished with 20 points. The Warriors were second in the league championship meet for the second consecutive year and second for the fourth time in the last 12 years.

The Canton boys finished fifth in the championship meet and tied for fifth overall in the league.

Trent Sawtelle was 29th for the Warriors with a time of 18:50 while Peter Royer finished 30th in 19:05.

Sparks earned All-NCCC on the boys side while Emily Briggs, Magna, Winkler and Abby Briggs earned All-NCCC honors in the girls race for finishing in the top 15.

Both Canton teams will be competing in Saturday’s CIAC Class SS championship races at Wickham Park in Manchester. The girls race in Class SS will be at 10:50 a.m. The boys Class SS race will be at 10:20 a.m.

At Windsor Locks
Team results – 1. Ellington 41, 2. Canton 49, 3. Somers 73, 4. Granby 97, 5. Coventry 118, 6. Suffield 163, 7. Bolton 180, 8. East Granby 218.
Individuals – Ava Roche, Somers, 19:42.02 over 3.1 miles at Windsor Locks, 2. Kylie Raymond, Somers, 20:00, 3. Lia Guerette, Ellington 20:26.37, 4. Jenni Giacalone, Ellington, 20:29, 5. Emily Briggs, Canton, 20:42, 6. Kennedy Baggott, Granby, 20:46, 7. Belle Magna, Canton, 20:55, 8. Helena Winkler, Canton, 20:57, 9. Lauren Chicosky, Stafford, 21:06, 10. Kathryn Bonanno, Ellington, 21:06; 11. Karissa Staino, Suffield 21:06, 12. Audrey Rosinski, Classical, 21:12, 13. Allison Hill, Ellington, 21:25, 14. Abigail Briggs, Canton 21:38, 15. Ashlie Delskey, Somers, 21:49, 16. Kate Walder, Ellington, 21:54, 17. Sam Carpino, Coventry, 21:58, 18. Amy Briggs, Granby 22:01, 19. Cameron McCauley, Canton, 22:12, 20. Lauren Martino, Ellington, 22:20
Other Canton runners: 35. Jocelyn Rossitto 23:16, 49. Lindsay Laclair, 24:30

League standings (1 point for each dual meet win, 1 point for every team beaten at the league championship meet):




x-Ellington 11-0 22
Canton 10-1 20
Somers 9-2 18
Coventry 8-3 15
Granby 7-4 15
Bolton 6-5 11
Suffield 5-6 11
East Granby 4-7 9
Classical 0-8 0
Stafford 0-8 0
East Windsor 0-8 0
Windsor Locks 0-8 0

x-wins league championship

At Windsor Locks
Team results – 1. Suffield 46, 2. Ellington 57, 3. Coventry 79, 4. Bolton 89, 5. Canton 142, 6. Granby 161, 7. Stafford 189, 8. Somers 197, 9. East Granby 240, 10. East Windsor 265, 11. Windsor Locks 324, 12. Hartford Classical 335
Individual results – 1. Max Sparks, Canton, 16:39.22 for 3.1 miles at Windsor Locks, 2. David Clavet, Ellington 16:48.07, 3. Thomast Arbeiter, Ellington, 16:48.41, 4. Taylor Ney, Coventry, 16:54, 5. Nick Sinofsky, Suffield 16:57, 6. Connor Ratte, Coventry, 16:58, 7. Chris Cassello, Bolton 17:09, 8. Kyle Englander, Suffield 17:16, 9. Samatar Wehelie, Suffield 17:16, 10. Jared Sharp, Suffield 17:28
Other Canton runners — 29. Trent Sawtelle 18:50, 30. Peter Royer 19:05, 40. Andrew Obrzut 19:30, 42. James Szpekman 19:46, 45. Nicholas Lagonigro 19:54, 52. Sean Richard 20:20


League standings (1 point for each dual meet win, 1 point for every team beaten at the league championship meet):

Team NCCC Pts
y-Ellington 11-0 21
y-Suffield 10-1 21
Bolton 9-2 17
Coventry 8-3 17
Granby 7-4 13
Canton 6-5 13
Stafford 5-6 10
Somers 4-7 8
East Granby 3-6 6
Windsor Locks 2-9 3
East Windsor 1-10 3
Classical 0-11 0

y-shared league championship

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.

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