2021 NCCC Cross Country Championships

This year’s NCCC Cross Country Championships at Bolton High School were a smash hit. The late-October weather was spectacular and the running was even better. I saw lots of great performance, lots of perseverance, and lots of smiles.

It was nice for our hometown team to host the event on our challenging 5,000 meter course. The Boy’s Varsity race was at 3:00 P.M. The Girls Varsity & Junior Varsity (combined) followed. The Boy’s Junior Varsity went last. A very nice awards ceremony wrapped up the proceedings as the sun was setting on a lovely afternoon.

The boys race overall team title came down to the “6th man” with Suffield prevailing over Ellington. They were tied with 72 points but the tie breaker was based on the position of the sixth runner for each team, which is proof that every spot matters. Behind those two squads in third, was our team, Bolton. This was a nice improvement for the Bulldogs as they approach their late season peak.

On the individual front, the top three boys were Griffin Mandirola (Suffield), Damian Smith (Ellington), and Jack Dendinger (Canton). Bolton placed three boys in the top 18, which qualified them for All Conference. They were Silas Gourley in 9th, Shepard (Livingston) in 10th, and Mason Fox in 17th. Sam Brudz just missed All Conference, finishing in a strong 20th.

Isaac Swenson, Jack Martin, and Robert Giering rounded out the Bolton team. Shepard was very happy with his race. He was honored for being the top freshman finisher. Even though he has a strong foundation of running and cycling, this has been a big step up to high school varsity. Debbie is the Bolton Center School (middle school) coach so it is neat to see how her athletes have progressed and “graduated” to the high school ranks. With Coach Paul Smith’s guidance, Shepard has set some goals and he is tackling them. He has faced “injury” for the first time in his running “career” but is learning from the process. Practice is 2 hours and 15 minutes a day, six days a week. This includes the running, stretching, strength training, workouts, and other prep. His school work and other commitments have added to the freshman “load.” This season is bringing back great memories from my best year of XC in 1989.

The team is improving just in time for the Class S State Championships a week from tomorrow at Wickham Park. I’m always spouting a famous phrase that my high school coach, Paul Haggerty, used to repeat: “You don’t want to peak until the leaves fall from the trees.”

In the girls race, Bolton finished second behind a strong Somers team. A slim nine points separated the two teams. This was a disappointment, but Somers is formidable and the girls can improve on this result next week at Wickham. Third place went to Suffield.

The top three finishers were Rachel St. Germain (Somers), Emily Bridges (Suffield), and Megan Minicucci (Bolton). The rest of Bolton’s top five girls were also All Conference. They were Anna Carini in 7th, Taylor Michaud in 8th, Nora Carini in 11th, and Sophia Balskus in 18th. Emily DeNunzio narrowly missed in 19th. Lana Houlberg rounded out the top seven.

Bolton’s JV runners also ran well, which bodes well for next year and the year’s to come. As noted, the CIAC Class Meets/State Championships are Saturday 30 October at Wickham Park in Manchester. Bolton is racing in Class S with the boys race at 2:05 P.M. and the girls race at 2:35 P.M.

Race Results


Boys Varsity


Boys JV


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