Avon's Lucky Streak Continues In Class MM Cross Country

Avon girls cross country coach Al Daddario started wearing his lucky outfit when his team won the Winding Trails Invitational at the end of September. It was a Nike shirt and pair of shorts, nothing special, but it’s special to him.

“I’m very superstitious,” he said. “It’s kind of weird.”

He wore it at the CCC meet, and Avon finished third. He wore it again Saturday, and the Falcons won the Class MM title with 39 points. Emily Foley was Avon’s top runner, finishing second in 20:21 behind Watertown’s Bethany Ottowicz. RHAM, which beat Avon last year, finished second with 73 points.

“These kids are unbelievable this year,” Daddario said. “It’s probably the best group of runners I’ve had, as far as their attitude. We got killed by RHAM last year. I wanted them to go out as champs this year.”

Foley was one of four Avon seniors.

“There was a lot of pressure. The stakes were high,” Foley said. “We had a really tough competitor in RHAM. That competition fueled us as a team.

“It wasn’t like revenge, but … even if we had done it last year, we’d want to do it again. It’s the ultimate goal for us. It’s been a really good season.”

Stockman wins Class M: Rocky Hill sophomore Elizabeth Stockman had never led a big race until Saturday’s Class M meet.

“I wasn’t really sure how to approach it,” she said.

But Stockman, who finished third at the CCC championships, did just fine. She passed Kayla Cohen of New Fairfield with about a quarter-mile to go and won in 19:46. Cohen finished second in 19:58.

“I wanted to push myself because I knew I trained really hard for this,” Stockman said.

Last year, she was 22nd as a freshman.

“She had minimal running experience going into last fall,” coach Brian Graca said. “What a difference a year makes. She committed to running over the summer, and the results show.

“She’s not afraid in a race to take a leap of faith and sit back a little bit and run hard at the end. When she felt ready, she went 100 percent.”

Stockman was Rocky Hill’s first female cross country champion since Katie Matthews won in 2006 and 2007.

Tolland first in Class M: Sophomore Killian McNamee won the Class M boys title, and his teammate Alex Sauter finished third to boost Tolland to a team championship with 41 points, ahead of runner-up East Catholic (78 points).

McNamee finished in 16:38.

“My strategy was just to stay in the back and negative split,” he said. “In our previous races, like at Ocean State [Invitational], I went out too fast, and I kind of died and got outkicked. I felt really good.”

Tolland, the defending champion, had five runners in the top 15, including Stephen Sutton, who returned from injury to finish 13th. The Eagles lost last year’s Class M champion, Josh Bedard, to graduation.

H-K sweeps Class SS: Since 2011, the Haddam-Killingworth boys have won six Class MM titles, and the Cougars continued that string of success Saturday, placing five runners in the top 12 and winning the SS championship with 39 points.

The H-K girls won, too, with 72 points, with Old Saybrook second (108 points).

It was the boys’ fourth straight title.

“It’s been pretty great,” said H-K senior Andrew Meredith, who finished second in 16:40. “As freshmen, we all just saw the success, and that spurred us on. Now it’s the tradition.”

Canton senior Maximillian Sparks won the boys title in 16:26 after finishing second last year.

“With State Opens being Friday, I didn’t want to give it all I had, but I wanted to win,” Sparks said. “I felt really strong, which is always helpful against great athletes like this. And I had enough at the end.”

Raymond Class SS champion: Kylie Raymond of Somers was yet another successful sophomore Saturday, winning her race in 19:32. Last year, she finished 26th.

“I was hoping for a little bit of a faster time,” she said. “I ran it last year, but I didn’t do so well. I was doing pretty well halfway through the race and then I dropped off the pace a lot. This year, I had more confidence.”

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