Tolland girls win cross country Open

MANCHESTER — Tolland’s perfect season keeps getting more perfect.

After dominating the competition in last week’s Class M championship, the Eagles unleashed an even more impressive performance in Wickham Park Friday, finishing almost two entire minutes faster than second place Glastonbury to win the State Open.

“It’s the dream season,” Tolland head coach Judi Lafontaine said. “I couldn’t ask for more. These girls worked so hard this summer and that’s the key to a good program, girls willing to sacrifice their summer for their teammates.”

Three of the top five Tolland finishers crossed the finish line in the top 15, giving the Eagles’ top finisher, Courtney Ackerley (19:17, 9th place) some company when she heads to New Englands.

“It has been amazing,” the junior said. “I can’t describe the feeling. It is just great. My goal was to get top 10. I wasn’t sure because of the weather and everything, but I went out and had fun and did the best I could do, and I met my goal.”

Ackerley’s teammates Caitlin Swanson and Megan Steinhilber took 14th and 15th place respectively, helping to put Tolland in contention for the Open crown.

“Caitlin’s got a lot in her, and Megan  was right behind her,” the coach said. “To have the three of them in that position is tremendous.”

Sealing the deal for Tolland were Katherine Deloreto and Hayley Collins, who took 19th and 30th place. Deloreto will also be heading to New Englands.

“I have to say, this team is so good there was nothing to be nervous about,” Lafontaine said, looking back at her excitement for the race. “In past years I came in very nervous, but this year I knew that they could do it.”

But even with the confidence and perhaps the most talent in the entire state, Ackerley and her teammates were nervous.

“It was so intimidating,” she said of the race, and the electric atmosphere. “We were halfway in the pack and I am not used to so many people running. It was a little nerve-racking, seeing all these great runners near me.”

Joining Tolland at the New England Championships in Manchester, New Hampshire is Glastonbury, which had all five runners place in the top 45.

Allison McArdle led the way for the Tomahawks, the Class LL champions with 20nd place.

She was followed close behind by Gaelyn Kattman, Kaitlyn Hebert, Kristen Arborio and Kathryn Hastings.

Simsbury also finished in the top 10 thanks to strong races from Sarah Mattison and Caroline Smith. Mattison will be competing in the New England Championship as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *