Tolland XC Poised to Repeat as State Open Champions

Last season, the Tolland girls cross country team won the State Open.

This year, they are poised to repeat that feat.

Four All-State runners – Courtney Akerley, Caitlin Swanson, Katherine DeLoreto, and Hayley Collins – all return from the championship team.

Backing them up are four girls who are looking for those last three spots.

Michaela Caron was the 2013 CCC junior varsity winner with a time of 20:19 – a time that was good enough to be top seven – but the team was so loaded last year.

“She will easily round out the top five,” said coach Judi Lafontaine.

Joining her will be senior Gabrielle Heilman, junior Breann Campise, and sophomore Sidney Perryman.

“They are all looking really good at this point,” said Lafontaine.

During the championship season, Akerley, Swanson, DeLoreto, Collins, and 2014 graduate Megan Steinhilber all broke the 20 minute mark – something that had not been done before.

Lafontaine feels that the top five will again be able to run sub 20 minutes.

“This year’s team has worked very hard this summer and made it their goal to win a second straight Open title,” said Lafontaine.

Many teams will also return top talent, but this Tolland team has more than that.

“Along with the talent, this team is extremely well bonded and all 28 girls are focused on the result at the end of the season,” said Lafontaine. “It does take more than seven talented runners, it takes a whole team to want this and support one another.”

Tolland opened the season on Sept. 9 with victories against conference foes Fermi and Rocky Hill and then headed to the Wickham Invite to see some more of the competition. The Eagles won their race handily.

Lafontaine feels that E.O. Smith is the main competition in the CCC East, Suffield is the competition at the Class M meet, and that Glastonbury – who finished second at last year’s Open – is once again the main competition in the Open.

The New England meet is at Wickham Park this year, so Lafontaine is hoping that Tolland’s experience on that course will serve it well and that it will be a top three team.

This year, the team is also heading to the Nike Cross Country Nationals this year in Wappinger Falls, NY for the Northeast regional.

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