By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
With its fourth place finish at the CIAC State Open on Sunday at Wickham Park in Manchester, the Amity boys cross country team has once again qualified to compete in the New England Championship Race which will held on Saturday at the Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland Maine. The top six teams in each state (except Massachusetts) advance to the New Englands. The Connecticut Champ was New Milford, with 112 points. Following the Green Wave were Xavier (147), Newtown (163), Amity 188, Staples High of Westport (191) and Simsbury (205). Fairfield Prep placed seventh with 217 points but did not qualify for the New Englands.
Staples’ Henry Wynne, who won the Class LL Championship race last week, also captured the individual honors at the State Open with a time of 15 minutes, 49 seconds for the 3.1 mile course. Amity runners included Shae Belenski (19th out of 183 runners—16:44); Anthony Barletta (47th —17:17); Brian Dunleavy (63rd —17:27); Connor Dunleavy (72nd —17:30); Aaron Barkin (92nd —17:41); Michael Yuan (107th—17:52); and Brian Mosher (119th —18:00). By finishing in the top 25, Belenski has earned All State honors.
“We ran just about the same race as we ran last week in the Class LL Championship Meet. Some teams, like Xavier ran much better this week than they ran last week, when we beat them. This week, they bounced back to beat us, but in many other cases, the storm really effected this race. For example, Danbury won the Class LL race but due to the storm, they had no power and had real problems preparing for and running in the State Open race,” Orgovan said. “For the most part, everybody’s time was a little slower this week.”
For the second week in a row, Belenski had trouble toward the finish of his race. In the Class LL race, he was running in fourth place until the last 100 meters, when his legs gave out. He wobbled and fell a few times, but got back up each time and finished the race, but came in back in 16th place. Much the same thing happed with Belekski running fourth at the Open. In the last 50 meters, his legs again got wobbly and gave out, but he managed to endure and place 19th.
According to Orgovan, “Shae wanted to be in the top eight In the Class LL race and went out very fast. He was fourth after a mile but still had two miles to go. Throughout the remainder of the race, he put a lot of pressure on himself and pushed hard to stay fourth. With 100 meters to go, he crossed a road and then ran onto a soft, uphill portion of the course. That’s where he lost his legs. This week, I told him not to go out so fast, be about 40th, and work his way up. He wanted to be in the top 25 and was aiming for 14th place. He was doing just fine when he again crossed the road and hit that soft, uphill patch. He got wobbly but not as bad as the previous week. He hung in, placed 19th and was named to the All State team.”
Orgovan also noted that Yuan, who is normally the team’s third or fourth finisher, dropped back to sixth place in the Open. He explained that since Yuan’s home had no power, he slept on the floor at Barkin’s house. As a result, his legs were very stiff and tight during the race. On the other hand, Barletta came through with an outstanding second-place effort.