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Athletes and Teams Realize Potential at 35th Wickham Park XC Invitational

Created at 10/7/2018 10:05 AM  by Ron Knapp 
Last modified at 10/7/2018 10:05 AM  by Ron Knapp 


By Special Correspondent John Altavilla

MANCHESTER - By the time he lunged ahead of Conard freshman Gavin Sherry to win the Boys Championship Varsity race at the 35th Wickham Park Cross Country Invitational Saturday, initials colored in blue on Hall senior Miller Anderson’s body were blurred from his sweat.

The new entry limit for the number of athletes allowed to enter the meet this year for each gender team affected Hall where their Boys’ roster easily exceeds 100. Anderson, who won the Indoor State Open championship in the 1000m last season, and his teammates felt badly for those who could not attend. So, each Hall boy had the initials of 10 teammates etched on them in tribute.

Meet Director Bill Baron decision to limit entrants for his meet this year came after discussions with the park superintendent who indicated that the meet was getting too large for park management. After thoughtful analysis limits were put on the entries and communicated to all coaches at the meet website as well as during the entry process. Coach Baron realized that this may have negatively affected certain teams but for most of their races, coaches could run all their athletes. For this meet, the total of 52 boys and 52 girls for high school teams seemed reasonable. Baron continued with his comment that meet limitations are common in the running sports and that Cross Country allows coaches to enter more than most indoor and outdoor meets. With the upcoming CIAC Class Meets, coaches will only select seven athletes so most cross-country athletes will not run. Baron commented that he will continue to work with park management in reviewing the numbers of participants and make further adjustments in the future.

Perhaps this was on Anderson’s mind during the final 20 yards of his dual with one of the best young runners in New England. Anderson avenged a loss to Sherry at the Manchester (NH) Invitational on Sept. 22; he finished seventh that day, 21 seconds behind Sherry.

But not this time. Anderson and Sherry crossed in identical times of 16:04, Anderson managing to stab ahead at the end.

“He [Sherry] passed me in the first mile [at New Hampshire], so today I knew I had to stay in contact with him,” Anderson said. “He was in the lead for a while, but my coaches asked me to believe in myself. I got closer and closer and I guess I had it at the end. He’s had a lot of middle school experience and for him to step up and do really well [as a freshman] is very impressive.”

In the team race, Concord NH won with 104 points while Tolland Boys placed second (125) ahead of Xavier (125) and fourth place Hall (134).

Anderson Miller

Finish by Gavin Sherry, Conard (l) and Miller Anderson, Hall (r) in Varsity Championship Race (photo by Ron Knapp,

Anderson’s win was complemented by Hall’s Jenna Zydanowicz with her remarkable showing in the Girls Championship race. The junior took the lead from the start and finished 51 seconds ahead (18:45) of Greenwich sophomore Mari Noble (19:36) and third place Lauren Moore of Danbury (19:38).

The time was at a faster pace than Zydanowicz needed to win the Windham Invitational in 18:25 for the 3-miler on Sept. 8, and better than the 19:03 she recorded to capture the Class LL championship on the Wickham course last season.

“I took the lead and just kept trying to go strong from there with a good pace to see what I could do,” she said. “If you keep a good mentality and positive thinking [once far ahead] it will take care of itself.”

In addition to her performance, powerful Glastonbury, the State Open champion last season, won the team title with 68 points. Danbury was second (77) and Trumbull (94) third.

Returning Angela Braga and Grace Sparrow from the last year’s champions, Glastonbury finished fifth (Casey MacElhiney), sixth (Sparrow) and eighth (Sparrow) to win the team title.

“We thought we would be in the mix with all the other great teams here,” Glastonbury coach Brian Collins said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect today. We’ve been banged up a little and are starting to get a little closer to being healthy.”

Jenna Zydanowicz

Jenna Zydanowicz of Hall powered to win in Varsity Championship Race (photo by Ron Knapp,

Rocky Hill’s sensational junior Elizabeth Stockman, the defending Class M cross country champion, raced to a big win (18:56) over Somers’ Kylie Raymond (19:14) in the Girls Seeded Varsity category.

Stockman, the defending State Open Indoor champion in the 3200m and its State Open Outdoor 1600m champ, has devoted most of the autumn to training, taking time out earlier this season to win the Blue Dragon Invitational in Middletown (18:09) on Sept. 7.

“This was my big race so I decided to go for it,” Stockman said. “It was muddy. There were some spots where I felt like I needed to take it very slow. But in every race, you have to deal with the elements.”

Fairfield Ludlowe won the team championship (171) in a close race with Ellington (171). Staples (177), Suffield (202) and Cheshire (217) with the tie broken by Ludlowe’s sixth runner

Elizabeth Stockman

Elizabeth Stockman of Rocky Hill sped to win in the Varsity Seeded Race (photo by Ron Knapp,

Senior Eddie Nicholas of Nonnewaug (16:34) won the Boys Seeded Varsity event over Cheshire sophomore Brendan Mellitt (16:46). Cumberland RI (152) won the team title ahead of Fairfield Warde (161), Wilbur Cross (171), Trumbull (189) and East Lyme (193).

Eddie Nicholas

Eddie Nicholas of Nonnewaug earned a victory in the Varsity Seeded Race (photo by Ron Knapp,

Old Saybrook senior Shane Henderson took the Boys Unseeded Varsity Race (16:46) over Middletown senior Matt Lecky (16:48). But Newington won the team title with 115 points, followed by Middletown (202), Southfield, RI (213), Avon (308) and Joel Barlow (348).

Newington was paced by a third-place from Samuel Geisler (16:50) and a fourth from captain Aidan Toth (16:53), who like many of the day’s competitors had taken SATs in the morning.

“My time was really good and surprising to me,” Toth said. “There was a lot of good competition. Pretty hard day with the course conditions. It was a little slow because of the mud. You had to take it slow, be careful in some sections, move around. There were a lot of places to slip up.  Sometimes taking a little longer path pays off at the end. This year has been really good for us. We have a lot of young, good runners showing what they have.”

Shane Henderson

Shane Henderson, Old Saybrook (l) held off Matt Lecky, Middletown (r) for first place in the Varsity UnSeeded Race (photo by Ron Knapp,

The Girls Unseeded Varsity race was won by New Milford freshman Claire Daniels (18:58) who defeated defending champion Mohawk Trail senior Meghan Davis (19:00).

Daniels’ win helped New Milford (81) to the team championship with Kathleen Delaney (third) and Brooke Morabito (sixth) finishing high.  Avon (130) was second, Hale-Ray (279) third, Farmington (279) fourth and Wilbur Cross (280) fifth.

Claire Daniels

Claire Daniels, New Milford placed first in the Varsity UnSeeded Race (photo by Ron Knapp,

The complete meet results are available for the 35th Wickham Park XC Invitational on the Results page sponsored by soundRUNNER Team Nights with stores in Branford, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Old Saybrook. The meet was held at Wickham Park in Manchester CT on Saturday, October 6, 2018.

Stay tuned for special photo galleries of all races from the meet later this week.

NOTE: publishes the results received/posted from meet directors and timing companies. If you don't see your results or if you think that the results are incorrect then ask your local coach to contact the meet director to send us the corrected meet results. Do not send an email to MySportsResults asking to correct the posted results.