Girls win FCIAC championship; boys finish second

Pursuing perfection is a difficult task. Even if the Ridgefield girls cross country team sometimes makes it look easy.

With five runners placing in the top 30, the Tigers followed up an unbeaten regular season by capturing the FCIAC championship Tuesday in New Canaan’s Waveny Park.

Led by senior Tess Pisanelli’s third-place finish, Ridgefield scored 70 points to beat Trumbull, which was second with 83. New Canaan had one of its best finishes in years, scoring 118 to take third place.

Ridgefield’s championship was its sixth in the past nine seasons, but its first since 2016.

“We talked a lot during the past week about what the top seven [runners] had to do to win this meet and they executed,” Ridgefield coach John Goetz said. “I was really, really happy with what they did.”

The Ridgefield boys team also impressed, scoring 77 points and finishing second to Staples, which won its fourth consecutive FCIAC title with 45 points.

In the girls’ race, Greenwich junior Mari Noble was a ball of fire on the 4,000-meter course. She burst to the front at the start and never relented, finishing in 14:05 to claim the individual crown by nearly 30 seconds.

Noble’s time was the sixth-fastest all-time on the course, and she took the crown after finishing third last year. By the time she got to the final stretch — a long straightaway from the top of the final hill, across the Waveny Park road and into the finish — she was well ahead of the competition.

Darien sophomore Mairead Clas was also impressive, as she passed Pisanelli down the stretch and took second place in 14:34. Pisanelli (14:36), Danbury junior Daniella Grullon-Pena (14:51) and Trumbull senior Alessandra Zaffina (14:54) rounded out the top five.

Ridgefield’s performance was a fitting finish for Pisanelli, who was a freshman on the Tigers’ last FCIAC championship team..

“It feels great to win again,” she said. “Losing the last two years was hard on us after being at the top, FCIACs and states. So this feels really good and I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my senior year.”

The Tigers had three runners finish in the top 15, the cutoff for All-FCIAC first-team honors. Following Pisanelli were sophomore Katie Rector in sixth place (14:55) and senior Elizabeth Jasminski in 11th place (15:19).

Senior Katie Langis was 24th (15:46) and junior Rory McGrath was 26th (15:47) to complete Ridgefield’s scoring.

“Tess and Katie [Rector] are front-runners and they work really well together,” Goetz said. “Elizabeth Jasminski did a really good job keeping close to them, and then our next three of Rory McGrath, Katie Langis and Georgia Keller (35th) ran as a pack. They came out of the woods all together and that really helped us win because they worked with each other going up that last hill.”

Notes: The Staples boys team placed its five scoring runners in the top 20 and had seven in the top 23. Runner-up Ridgefield had five runners in the top 24 and seven in the top 28.

Staples’ Morgan Fierro — fourth in last year’s race — was first overall in a time of 15:54, five seconds ahead of Warde’s Austin Hutchens.

Pacing the Ridgefield effort (and earning All-FCIAC first-team honors) were Chuckie Namiot (ninth, 16:11), Charlie King (12th, 16:19) and Trevor DeMarco (13th, 16:21). Ethan Snyder (19th) and Liam Carcich (24th) also contributed to the Tigers’ team score.