2021 Cross Country Championship Season

The 2021 Cross Country season has come to a close and we are going to miss it. Yes, there are still some runners competing, but for the Livingston Family, we wrapped things up today at the Connecticut Middle School XC Championships at Wickham Park in Manchester. 

Our household has been totally absorbed in XC since late August. Debbie is the coach of the Bolton Center School (BCS) Girls and Boys teams. Dahlia is a 7th grade member of that middle school team. Shepard is a freshman member of the Bolton High School (BHS) team. I’m a super-fan.

Before this state championship run, we had the NCCC conference championship. For BHS, those were held on the home course back on 21 October. For the BCS crew, their league meet was the NEMSAC conference championships at Lebanon Middle School on 27 October. 

Wickham Park has been the location of the latest stretch of awesome state championship races. Over the past week, more than 4,000 people have run at Wickham, Connecticut’s premier XC destination. Today alone, there were more than 2,500 kids running in the park. 

The first big championship event at the park was the CIAC XC Divisional Championship on Monday 01 November (postponed from Saturday 30 October). BHS coach Paul Smith refers to the “class meet” as his “Christmas.” After season of training his runners all season, building towards a peak, this is the race where he gets to “open his presents.” 

For BHS, this is the the big one and the girls team did awesome in the Class S race. S is the smallest school category, but it is still competitive. The high school championship races are all held on the same 5,000 meter (5K) course. The Bolton girls finished second to Somers, qualifying for the State Open Championship. They were led by Meghan Minicucci, who finished second behind Rachel St. Germain of Somers. All of the Bolton girls ran strongly. They will lose a few seniors to graduation, but should be strong again in 2022. As for Rachel, we’ve seen a lot of her this season because Somers and Bolton are both in the NCCC, and she has dominated every race. This was a good race for the BHS girls and they should be proud of their State Open qualification. 

The BHS boys finished 4th. They didn’t qualify for the State Open, but without any graduating seniors in their top seven runners, there is room for improvement in 2022. Silas Gourley led the team with an 11th place finish. This gained him All-State honors and an individual State Open qualification. 

Shepard finished 19th, falling short of the top-12 goal that would also have qualified him for the State Open. He was disappointed with his time, running a bit slower than the Wickham Park Invitational last month, but less than 10 freshman ran faster than him across all classes, so he has to be pleased with this race and his entire XC season. He and the Bolton boys have a lot to look forward to in the future. 

Yesterday, Debbie picked up Shepard at school so they could meet me at the park to cheer on the Bolton girls and Silas. HORST Engineering is only 1.7 miles from the park, so its easy for me to get there by bike. I love the place and pass through at least four days a week on my bicycle commutes to/from work. 

I always get pumped for the State Open. I’ve been attending most every year for the last 10 years. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. A few years ago I wrote about the 1989 East Catholic Boys XC Team that won the Class MM Championship and finished third in the State Open. That is one of my favorite high school memories as I was a member of the team. I hope that both of my kids experience the State Open during their high school careers. If they keep progressing, they just might. 

Yesterday’s races were amazing. The boys went first. We knew many of the runners, including Silas. He ran his best race of the year in a very competitive field. The battle for the top spot was thrilling with Conard’s Gavin Sherry and Callum Sherry besting Manchester’s Aidan Puffer. They all had fast times. Notable finishers that we know were Luke Anthony (East Lyme) in 6th and Luke Stoeffler (Tolland) in 17th. Both qualified for the New England Championships with their top 25 finishes. That meet is next week in Vermont. 

In the girls race, Bolton hung tough with the big schools that typically shine at the State Open. They finished 16th, which when you think about how many high schools are in Connecticut, is pretty darn good. Again, they were led by Meghan, who set her personal best. The weather was gorgeous, which made for fast running. The course was a bit soft from all the recent rain, but yesterday we had brilliant sunshine and a deep blue sky. She was 9th and was Bolton’s lone qualifier for the New England meet. This result makes her one of BHS’s best ever runners. 

Worth noting is that once again, Rachel St. Germain dominated. She won by more than 40 seconds. This was the performance of the day. Shepard was very inspired after watching the State Open. He joined me last year too. He said his goal is to qualify both with the team and on his own. It will be fun to watch him pour the effort into getting better. 

We were back at Wickham today for the CT Middle School State XC Championships. Debbie took the bus with Dahlia and the rest of the team. I rode to work and then rode back to the park to meet them. Shepard rode over with our friend Chris Duffy, whose kids also attend Bolton schools. 

Right after I arrived at the park, I jumped in the “Mom & Pop” race which is hosted by the Silk City Striders. I jogged it while Shepard raced it. Debbie ran it too along with several friends. Bolton finished second to Fairfield in the competition for most participants. Our goal was to win, but we were close and are hungry for next year! The race was held on the shorter 1.7 mile course. 

This is the biggest race of the year based on total participants. They split the state in two (East and West) and hold A races for each half for boys and girls. The A race is held on a 2.3 mile course. Then they held four more B races on the 1.7 mile course. Some of these races had 400 kids in the field. It was amazing to watch.

Dahlia joined her team in the East A race and they did well. Her friend Clara Toomey was the top BCS finisher. Dahlia followed her. Both were in the top 100, which is actually quite an achievement. They are 7th graders and will get another crack at it next year. Bolton was 11th in the East team results. 

The BCS boys also did well. They were led by Christopher Allinson, who was 54th, a good result. This is the same place Shepard finished in two years ago. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 cancellation, Shepard didn’t get to beat that result as an 8th grader. Chris will be on the BHS team next year and he has a lot of potential. 

All of Coach Debbie’s runners did well and she has taught them how to love running while become better people. She has given them a lot of confidence and life skills related to exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, strength, and balance. I’m biased, but I’ve observed her methods and they are effective. I know the parents are very appreciative of her coaching and the kids love being on the team. 

In about nine months we will start gearing up for the 2022 season. I’m already getting pumped! 

Race Results

NCCC XC Conference Championship

NEMSAC XC Conference Championship

CIAC XC Divisional Championship

CIAC XC State Open Championship

CT Middle School State XC Championships

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