Cross Country GHS enters season with optimism
Optimism was in the air on a warm Wednesday afternoon, as the Greenwich High School girls and boys cross country teams trained for the rapidly approaching season — and for good reason.
The Cardinals’ girls team, which won the FCIAC championship in 2017 for the first time since 1981 and placed second in the Class LL Championships, return a number of key runners from last fall’s squad. Meanwhile, Greenwich’s boys team, which finished ninth in the FCIAC Championships, has its sights set on making its mark in the conference and state meets.
Placing three runners among the top-10 finishers and four in the Top-13, Greenwich finished first in the FCIAC championship meets with a team score of 47 points last season at Waveny Park in New Canaan. Several runners on the cross country team also competed on the school’s indoor track team that won the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open titles and successful spring track and field squad.
“Last year’s team was tremendous,” said GHS girls cross country coach Evan Dubin, who also coaches the girls’ indoor and outdoor track teams. “The amount of talent and the work ethic all lined up to give us a tremendous amount of success through all three seasons, starting with cross country. Cross country led the success for future seasons.”
Emily Philippides, who placed eighth at the FCIAC Championships with a time of 15:14.82 (4,000 meters) and was 10th and 14th, respectively at the Class LL and State Open meets, graduated and is competing on track and field team at Princeton University. Hetty McMillan (sixth in FCIAC Championships last season, 15:03.09, competing on track team at Lehigh) and Kate Ragone also graduated from last season’s championship squad.
The Cardinals, however, bring back a group of key performers from their 2017 roster. Zoe Harris, a junior, finished fourth at last year’s FCIAC meet (14:59.82), while senior quad-captain Verna Yin placed 13th (15:26.82). Caroline Webb, also a senior captain, finished 16th at the conference meet (15:46.28).
“It would be nice to win the FCIAC championship again,” Dubin said. “Danbury has the target on their back, if we beat them it would be a tremendous accomplishment. Finishing top three on the team side at states would also be great and we hope to make it to New Englands, which slipped through our fingers last year.”
Greenwich posted a second-place finish at the 2017 Class LL Championships (75 points, Glastonbury was the champion), then was ninth in the team standings at the State Open.
Webb, senior Lauren O’Donnell, Yin and senior Elizabeth Biederman are the Cardinals’ 2018 captains.
“As a team, we have high expectations,” Webb said. “We want to make New Englands, which we just missed last year and we want to do well in the championship meets. Our team has a lot of potential and the ability to do that.”
O’Donnell placed among the top-30 finishers at the 2017 Class LL meet and is ready to show her leadership to the less experienced runners.
“Personally, I hope I can be a good role model to the team, especially the underclassmen who are new to running and to GHS,” O’Donnell said. “I think this year if we stay really positive and bond together we will have a great chance of going farther. We do have a lot of potential, so we’ll see what unfolds.”
Said Yin: “We are trying to work on getting more team activities together team, so we have a better team environment. I feel like we can do really well this year — as well as in past years.”
Like her teammates, Yin cherished the 2017 season.
“Last yer was great, the seniors on the team were really strong,” Yin said. Emily, Hetty and Kate were great role models and it was such a great experience to see everyone prosper running-wise and friendship- wise.”
Senior Hunter Kemp and sophomore Mari Noble, who is in her first season on the team, are among some other runners who should make an impact.
“If everyone stays healthy, we have a chance to have another successful season,” Dubin said. “The talent is there, it’s just a matter of putting the work in.”
On the boys’ side, the Cardinals placed ninth at last season’s FCIAC Championships and were 21st at the Class LL competition. Alex Koysakov, a senior, paced the team at the 2017 FCIAC meet with a top-30 finish.
Koysakov, Akash Molekudy, Alex Bein, Thomas Rouffiac, George Karakadas, Kevin Collins and Stephen Burke led GHS at the 2017 Class LL competition.
Twins Akash Molekudy and Akashay Molekudy are senior captains, along with Koysakov, Burke and Aidan Brock. Collins and Karakadas were among some of the graduates from last season’s squad.
“We are bringing back eight members of our top-10, so we have experience and they are getting better,” GHS boys cross country coach Sean Astle said.
The Cardinals are setting the bar higher this fall.
“We want in on the State Open this year,” Astle said. “We expect to be in contention and to make the starting line at the State Open. Last year, we didn’t make it to the State Open, so everyone is focused on that.”