FCIAC cross country championships today on HAN Network

A dominating Staples Wreckers boys team and a wide-open girls race are the themes as the FCIAC cross country championships hit the trails of Waveny Park in New Canaan on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The meet will feature six races — two each at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels — with many of the top runners in the state in competition.

The meet kicks off with the girls freshman races at 2:15 p.m., followed by the boys freshman race at 2:30

The girls varsity race, covering 4,000 meters, is scheduled for 2:50 p.m., with the boys 5,000-meter race to follow at 3:20 p.m.

The meet will wrap up with junior varsity race at 3:50 p.m. for the girls and 4:20 p.m. for the boys.

In the boys varsity race, the defending champion Staples Wreckers have been unscathed this season, running to a 15-0 record as they prepare to defend their FCIAC championship.

• Click here for a course map •

The event will be carried live by the HAN Network starting at 2 p.m., and is available on the FCIAC’s home page and at HAN Network’s website by clicking here. The meet will also be simulcast live on Frontier Communications’ Vantage Sports Network (Chs. 600/1600).

The event will also be available on demand after its completion by clicking here.

Warde and Danbury figure to be the closest competition for Staples, but the Wreckers knocked off both teams during the regular season, beating Danbury 23-38, then wrapping up the dual meet campaign with a 26-33 win over Warde last week.

Staples could also place all five of its scorers in the top 15, which would certainly lock down a title. Seniors William Landowne, Christian Myers and Benjamin Seiple finished fourth through sixth in last year’s meet, and senior Sunil Greene was just outside the top 10 in 11th place.

Warde (13-2) features a few individual contenders and has a solid shot at second place. Alex Mocarski, who won last week’s 2.9-mile race against Staples, is in contention for the top spot, as are James Maniscalco and Danny Jagoe. All three Mustangs are seniors.

Danbury (14-1) is led by Dan Nichols, a senior who won his race against Staples earlier this fall. Senior Matthew Burke will also be in contention, along with a few other Hatters, including sophomores Jacob Hefele and Jack Watson.

Also in the hunt for a top-five spot are the New Canaan Rams and Trumbull Eagles.

New Canaan (12-3) has had a superlative season, led by seniors Max Koschnitzke and Alex Urbahn, and edged Trumbull 27-28 two weeks ago. The Rams are also running at home in Waveny Park, although the course is different than the one used during the regular season.

Trumbull (11-4) should be right in that mix with New Canaan, Danbury and Warde, and the Eagles feature a few contenders for the top 15, including senior Tyler Rubush and Armando Ulaj, and junior Christopher Lepore.

In the girls championship, there really isn’t a clear-cut favorite for the team title. The Ridgefield Tigers (13-2) have won two straight and five of the last six FCIAC crowns, but both the Greenwich Cardinals (14-1) and Danbury Hatters (14-1) have the firepower to win this season.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that Greenwich lost to Ridgefield (on a tiebreaker), Ridgefield lost to Danbury, and Danbury lost to Greenwich in dual meets this season. Ridgefield’s second loss was to Ludlowe (11-4), which has had a strong season.

One thing for certain is that Wilton’s Morgan McCormick is a clear-cut favorite to win the individual championship for a second consecutive season. The senior won the CIAC Class L and State Open titles last season and has a perfect record this fall.

Not far behind her are Greenwich sophomore Zoe Harris and Danbury junior Lauren Moore. Harris has won all but one of her races this fall, finishing behind McCormick, and edged Moore by seven seconds when the Cards and Hatters went head-to-head in September.

Along with Harris, Greenwich also has seniors Emily Philippides and Hetty McMillan in contention and the talent on their roster could be enough to propel them to the FCIAC crown.

Ridgefield is the defending champion and boasts several top contenders, led by junior Gabriella Viggiano and sophomore Elizabeth Jasminski. Senior Julia Hergenrother, another of Ridgefield's top runners, will miss the FCIAC meet due to a sprained ankle, according to head coach John Goetz.

For Danbury, Moore has been outstanding, with junior Cassandra Sturdevant and sophomore Alexandra Chakar also in contention. The Hatters were 10-5 and finished ninth in the FCIAC last fall, but have made a huge leap up the rankings this year.

After that likely top three are Trumbull (12-3), Wilton (11-4) and Ludlowe (11-4). Trumbull is led by junior Margaret LoShiavo and sophomore Allessandra Zaffina; Wilton features McCormick; and Ludlowe stars seniors Keegan Simonsen and Paige Davis.