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2018 Connecticut Middle School State XC Championship

After a week filled with rain, we had a beautiful autumn day for the 2018 Connecticut Middle School State XC Championship at Wickham Park in Manchester. It started out cold, but a bright sun warmed the air and it was set against a deep blue sky. Cross Country at Wickham Park is a magical experience.

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This is Debbie’s first year coaching the Bolton Center School (BCS) Boy’s and Girl’s XC teams and it has been a fantastic one. XC is just another reason why I love fall. If I were to rank my favorite months of the year, they would be October, September, and November–in that order. Being a spectator at these races, and watching the girls and boys progress, brought back so many rich memories from my youth.

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On Friday night, the Doyle Family hosted a pot-luck pasta feed at their home, which was great fun. All of the kids were invited. Debbie and her awesome assistant, Donald Rowe, were honored for their roles. It was great to hear how the kids have bonded as their friendships have grown stronger in only eight weeks of practices and meets.

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I started running as a 7th grader at Vernon Center Middle School (VCMS) and continued at East Catholic, where the pinnacle of my XC career was reached as a senior when we won the Class MM State Championships and finished third in the State Open. Nine years ago, I wrote about the 20th anniversary of that 1989 season. That was so long ago, but being at Wickham brought back so many good memories.

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Some of those good vibes may have helped the BCS boy’s team as they claimed third place in the small school division (less than 400 students per school–6th through 8th grade). They were the 19th team overall out of 49 overall in the A race. The six boys who ran today gave it their all and that is what Coach Debbie asks for. The girl’s team has also progressed nicely and improved all season long. In addition to the kids that ran in the A races, Bolton fielded boys and girls teams in the B races, which were run earlier in the day.

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There were a LOT of people at Wickham Park. More than 2,600 boys and girls finished! That’s amazing. There were 400 starters and 391 finishers in the boys A race alone. Each of the schools was permitted to start seven runners and there were many individuals (without teams) mixed in. Each school was allowed to start 15 runners in the B races, so to ease congestion, the B races were split into two so there were CT East races in the morning, and CT West races in the afternoon with the championship races in between. Factor in all of the coaches, parents, and spectators and it was a full crowd. It was wonderful to see so many people running.

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The course itself was in decent shape given how bad the weather has been and how many races have been run between in the park between October and November. There were several muddy spots, including the start/finish stretches, and the “sledding hill.” Many kids had their shoes “sucked off” despite warnings to tie them tighter.

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The park has withstood months of above normal rain, and it has rained a lot in the last few weeks. There has also been a lot of foot traffic on the course, with the high school class meets 10 days ago, the high school State Open last Thursday, and the middle school championship today.

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In the middle of today’s six races, they squeezed in a first ever Mom & Pop Charity XC Race in support of a group that collects shoes for those in need. That put another 50+ people on the soggy course. That race went off at 11:30 A.M., and both Debbie and I competed. It was only 1.8 miles, and it was the first time I’ve run hard in nearly a year. It was great fun and gave us a chance to scout the course and offer tips to our girls and boys who followed us at 12:15 P.M. and 12:45 P.M.

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Back in August when Debbie told me she took the assistant coach role, I was supportive, but curious about how this would go. I asked who the head coach was, and she said they were still searching for one. Then, a week later, she told me that she was the new head coach and that they were searching for her assistant. I became even more curious about how this was going to go!

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In the end, it was awesome. I couldn’t think of a better coach for these kids, including ours. She didn’t just teach them running skills. They learned about focus, mental strength, yoga, and goal setting.  If asked, I’m sure she will return in 2019. She is interested in building a stronger program with the goal of recruiting more kids and sending more of them on to Bolton High School (BHS) with running as their sport of choice.



BHS has a long tradition of XC running and this year, the boy’s team won the Class S State Championship and qualified for the State Open. Several strong 8th graders will graduate from Debbie’s squad and head to BHS next fall. Hopefully those kids will replenish a strong team that is losing several seniors to graduation.



The future remains bright for Bolton XC. Go Bulldogs!


Boys A Team Small School Results

Girls A Team Small School Results

Boys Overall Race Results

Girls Overall Race Results

Mom & Pop Race Results

Horst Engineering Family of Companies

Cross Spikes™


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🍁 ☀️ #october #autumn

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