BRISTOL - Coming into the Bristol City Cross Country Championships Thursday, Bristol Central had been the team to beat in previous years.
With a sweep of the top 10, the boys won their 14th straight individual meet with scores of 15-50 over both Bristol Eastern and St. Paul. Bristol Eastern topped St. Paul 25-32.
“It was even better than we thought,” Rams head coach Tamara Stafford said. “For us to finish top 10, I don’t think we’ve ever done that before or at least in my 19 years. I was a little choked up watching them come through the finish line.”
On the girls side, both Alex Sirko and Paige Hinton led the way for Bristol Central behind a strong Bristol Eastern freshman in Avery Braccia. The Rams had an impressive freshman runner as well with Isabella Crandall finishing in fourth place, which highlighted her improvement throughout the season and helped the girls win their ninth straight individual city meet with scores of 25-31 over Bristol Eastern and 17-43 over St. Paul. Bristol Eastern topped St. Paul 21-34.
While Sirko and Hinton leading the way, the duo is proud of the improvement of the young freshman.
“They’ve been improving so much,” Sirko said. “[Crandall] in particular and Marisa [Heller] are finally getting to where they should be and moving up the ladder.”
Once again it was Mark Petrosky and Matt Roy leading the way for the Rams boys.
Petrosky finished first and was followed by Roy. Finishing with the sweep made it extra sweet for them.
“We weren’t expecting that,” Roy said. “We were hoping to get as many people as we could into the top 10 but we didn’t know that we would do that.”
While both the boys and girls for Bristol Central had strong meets, Bristol Eastern and St. Paul had positives as well.
For the Lancers girls, Braccia was extremely impressive finishing in first place in her first city meet with a time of 22:52 in the meet.
“That was crazy,” Bristol Eastern’s Ben Wadowski said of Braccia. “I’ve only been running for two years and to see that was outstanding seeing somebody that good. It’s super inspiring for me to see somebody like that come out of nowhere.”
Although Braccia was impressive as an individual, at the end of the day, it’s about the team and the two wins against the Falcons are something to be proud of for Bristol Eastern.
“Today was a team loss whether she won or not,” Lancers head coach Kyle Fuller said. “We did put four in the top 10 on the girls side so they did well but in the long run we want to succeed as a team.”
Braccia was the only Bristol Eastern girls runner in the top 5 and her performance is a sign of good things to come.
Finishing in first place at the city meet was special for her.
“It’s really great,” Braccia said. “Central is really good and as a freshman, being able to beat juniors and seniors is just amazing.”
St. Paul came out of the meet without a win but the way the team handled the hill was something that first-year head coach Paul Gionfriddo was looking for.
“After the first scrimmage everybody was complaining about the big giant hill,” Gionfriddo said. “So I brought my team back here and all we did for five straight minutes was run up that hill.”
He was most impressed with the improvement of Hannah Orzel
While Orzel finished in last place in the meet, her improvement on the course stood out.
“I saw some times that were tremendous, Gionfriddo said. “Especially with one of my girls, Hannah, she decreased her time by over 10 minutes. When we ran in the scrimmage she walked up the entire hill and just couldn’t handle it and today she finished at 32 minutes after finishing at 45 minutes in the scrimmage.”
The Bristol City Championships meet put on display three different programs at different stages but each of them walked away with positives.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan