NEW CANAAN, Conn. – There was something old and something new in Thursday’s Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference girls cross country championships at Waveny Park in New Canaan.
Ridgefield won its second straight title, while Fairfield Warde junior Cate Allen, in her first year of running cross country, pulled away late to win the individual title.
Ridgefield, ranked No. 4 in the state, finished with 55 points. Darien finished second with 94, while Danbury (112), Wilton (117) and Fairfield Warde (120) rounded out the Top 5. Ridgefield finished undefeated against league competition this fall.
Allen’s victory came in 14:20 for the 4,000-meter layout, 17 seconds behind the course mark set by Warde's Meg Ryan in 2009. Westhill’s Claire Howlett finished second in 14:25, followed by Staples freshman Hannah DeBalsi in 14:34. Darien’s Anne Johnston, who had not lost to a league runner this fall, finished fourth in 14:41. Westhill senior Nicole Ambrosecchio finished fifth in 14:44.
Laura Hegenrother finished sixth for Ridgefield in 14:48. The Tigers’ other scorers included Sarah Guillaume, Caroline Carr (eight)h, Melissa Budicini (14th) and Jeanne JucJucullo (20th). Ridgefield’s Top 5 runners were separated by just 45 seconds.
Allen and Johnston set a swift pace early. The Warde runner took control with about 800 meters remaining. “I wanted to stay right with her the whole way,’’ Allen said. “When I got the lead, I didn’t look back that much.”
Allen, a former soccer player, ran cross country for the first time this year. She also runs indoor and outdoor track.
Howlett fell just short in her bid to become the first girl from a Stamford to win the league title. She finished fifth last year, trading places with Ambrosecchio, who was second last year. Ambrosecchio finished seventh, fourth, second and fifth during a tremendous four-year run for the Vikings, earning all-league honors each year.
Fairfield Warde’s Caroline Keough finished ninth and Danbury’s Kristen Dakin was 10th. Danbury finished 12-6 during the regular season but moved up impressively in the league’s biggest meet of the year. Wilton (16-2) and Warde (15-3) also had strong performances after strong regular seasons.