Greenwich High School’s girls cross country team proved it was one of the class teams at the Class LL Championships recently at Wickham Park in Manchester.
The Cardinals, who were coming off a sensational second-place showing at the FCIAC Championships, placed an impressive sixth in the team standings at the CIAC Class LL Championships – an event featuring 18 teams.
Their sixth-place finish earned the Cardinals the right to compete in Saturday’s CIAC State Open Championships, which will also be held at Wickham Park.
“It was a great meet,” Greenwich coach Evan Dubin said. “The conditions were muddy, as expected going in, but I had faith in the girls that they were going to step up and run well and they did.”
Seven Greenwich runners will test their skills at Saturday’s State Open, as the Cardinals were one of the successful teams to qualify for the ultra-competitive meet.
“I was hoping and expecting that we would make it to the State Open as one of the at-large teams and the girls really rose to the occasion and were able to make it happen,” Dubin said.
Sophomore Esme Daplyn paced Greenwich to its strong Class LL showing, finishing 12th overall in the race at Wickham Park with a time of 20:20. The race was won by Ridgefield senior Katherine Rector, who crossed the finish line in 19:01.
“Esme’s been running well all year,” Dubin said. “She was able to handle the conditions well, she finished top-12, which gives her All-State (Team) status. We were hoping she would be able to do it and she rose to the occasion and made it happen for herself and the team.”
Daplyn finished fifth at the FCIAC Championships and excelled for the Cards in each of their regular season meets. Chloe Eberwein posted Greenwich’s next best finish at the LL finals, placing 28th in 21:17.
“A lot of it was just working together as a team,” Eberwein said of the Cards’ success at the Class LL competition. “We all pushed each other and worked together and it helped us all do our best.”
Said Dubin: “Chloe is getting better and better each race. She really stepped up when we needed her to. The same for everyone. All seven of them – it was a team effort and they are all pulling their weight.”
Eberwein’s sophomore season has been especially rewarding since her freshman season on the team was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, we didn’t have states or State Opens, so it was really nice to show all the work we put into the season, because we weren’t able to do that last season,” Eberwein said.
Elizabeth Anderson, a junior, Lillian Shropshire, a sophomore and Kaitlyn Lisjack, a senior co-captain, ran closely together at the Class LL Championships, finishing 35th, 36th and 37, respectively. Anderson registered a time of 21:36, Shropshire ran a 21:40 and Lisjak clocked in at 21:42 on the muddy course.
“I think we’ve worked so hard all season, so it was nice to showcase our ability,” Anderson said. “It also gave us a lot of motivation for Friday and we want to come back and be stronger.”
Anna Weiksner, a senior, was 49th (22:19) and Greenwich teammate Abigail Sullivan, also a senior, was 51st (22:21) in the race, which featured 127 competitors from schools across the state.
Assistant coach Peter Watson was especially pleased with how Greenwich’s athletes ran down a lot of their Class LL competitors.
“The conditions were not ideal,” Watson said. “It was wet, the course was damp from the previous days rain. But one thing the girls did really well was they moved up consistently throughout the race. Toward the last mile, the last half mile, they moved up to a good spot to have the great finish that they did. We have really come a long way since the start of the season both in performances and how we’ve been performing as a team.”
The State Open girls race begins at 2:45 p.m. on Friday at Wickham Park.
“The top-six teams advance to New Englands,” Dubin said. “We’re hoping we can put it all together and all run well. I think we have a shot, but we’ll have to go earn it on Friday. Wickham is a hard course, but they like it. Every year it is at that same course and they like being able to compare previous year’s time and see how they do. Hopefully, the course dries out and it will be a little faster.”
Anderson and the Cardinals are eagerly anticipating their return to Wickham Park for Friday’s big meet.
“Wickham is very challenging, but it feels good showing all the training that we’ve done and put it on display physically,” Anderson said. “I’m very excited to race there again on Friday. It’s awesome to qualify as a team. It’s a close team, everyone’s close and deserves to go. I’m just going to try and have fun with it and will just try to give everything I’ve got.”
“I’m just really excited and I think we’re all going to push each other and do a good job,” Eberwein added.