MANCHESTER, Oct. 29 – A year ago, Canton junior Max Sparks was on the junior varsity soccer team racing up and down the synthetic turf field at the high school.
On Saturday, Sparks was leading the field at the CIAC Class SS boys cross country championships at Wickham Park in Manchester. But Haddam-Killingworth’s Dan Schumann didn’t panic and eventually passing Sparks to win the individual championship by five seconds and lead the Cougars to their fifth Class SS championship in the last six years.
Sparks, who was looking to join Mike LeDuc (2009 Class SS) as an individual state champion from Canton, became the fifth Canton boy to finish second in a state championship race with a season-best time of 16:38. The Warriors finished sixth as a team.
In the Class SS girls race, Canton finished third behind Immaculate and Haddam-Killingworth but ran well and earned a wild card entry in Friday’s State Open championship here at Wickham Park. The top two teams in each of the six CIAC classes (LL, L, M, MM, SS, S) earn invitations to the State Open along with the next fastest eight teams based on total team times.
It will be the first appearance for the Canton girls at the State Open since 1996.
Sparks, who became the first Canton boy to win a conference championship at last week’s NCCC championship meet, tried to break open the race by speeding ahead midway through the race. Schumann was able to track him down and win by five seconds.
Schumann’s teammate Andrew Meredith finished third in 16:50 to help the Cougars easily beat Coventry, 39-99. Haddam Killingworth captured their third straight Class SS championship.
Seniors Peter Royer (38, 18:36) and Trent Sawtelle (49, 18:58) each finished in the top 50 for the Warriors. Sparks, who earned All-State honors with his top eight finish, will run in Friday’s State Open championship meet.
In the girls race, Immaculate-Danbury had the first three runners in the race and had their top five finish among the top 24 to easily beat Haddam-Killingworth, 53-78. Canton was third with 118 points.
Senior Emily Briggs earned All-State honors with her fifth place finish in a season-best time of 20:19. Junior Belle Magna (20, 20:56) and sophomore Helena Winkler (27, 21:15) finished in the top 30 with senior Abby Briggs (31, 21:35) and senior Cameron McCauley (35, 22:02) rounded out the top five runners on the squad.
Canton’s team time of 1:46:07 was faster than the team times from Avon (2nd in Class MM, 1:47.54), Housatonic (2nd in Class S, 1:49.03) and Ellington (2nd in Class M, 1:46.59).
NOTES: The five Canton boys that finished second in a CIAC championship race were Rob Paterson (1995) and Chris Bussiere (2004) in Class S and Brian Magna (2008) and Jon Cahill (2011) in Class SS.
Class SS BOYS
Team results: 1. Haddam Killingworth 39, 2. Coventry 99, 3. Coginchaug 104, 4. Nonnewaug 130, 5. Woodland 157, 6. Canton 212
Canton results: 2. Max Sparks 16:38, 38. Peter Royer 18:36, 49. Trent Sawtelle 18:58, 62. Nicholas Lagonigro 19:26, 63. Sean Richard 19:28, 71. James Szpekman 19:44, 81. Andrew Obrzut 19:58
Class SS GIRLS
Team results: 1. Immaculate 53, 2. Haddam-Killingworth 78, 3. Canton 118, 4. Coginchaug 129, 5. Old Saybrook 139
Canton results: 5. Emily Briggs 20:19, 20. Belle Magna 20:56, 27. Helena Winkler 21:15, 31. Abby Briggs 21:35, 35. Cameron McCauley 22:02, 42. Jocelyn Rossitto 22:22, 85. Lindsay Laclair 25:04