BETHEL — Newtown High School’s girls’ and boys’ cross country teams competed in the South-West Conference championship meet on a warm-for-the-season October 17 afternoon. The Nighthawks and their SWC rivals ran the 5K race on the scenic trails behind Bethel High School and, after climbing the steep hill affectionately known as “The Beast,” came to the finish line on the school track.
Newtown’s boys’ squad finished fifth, and the girls, who earned the Sportsmanship Award, were sixth. The Brookfield boys and Immaculate of Danbury girls won their respective races. Newtown’s top five boys’ placements added up to 120, and Brookfield finished with a team score of 49. Among the girls, Newtown’s top five totaled 135; Immaculate had a 46. There were 14 boys’ teams and 15 girls’ squads representing the conference.
Newtown was led by sixth-place overall finisher Christopher Gamble, who completed the course in a time of 17:17.09. Gamble earned First Team All Conference honors. Teammate Grandon Smith was 19th in 17:49.31 and took home Second Team accolades as did Tom Floros who finished 24th in 18:05.42. On the girls’ side, Brianne Moulder paced the Nighthawks by coming in tenth in 20:55.94, and Hannah Schwartz was 12th in 21:09.20, both earning First Team accolades.
Rounding out the top five among Newtown boys were: 34. Nick Swenson, 18:41.38; and 37. Kevin Gorman, 18:47.44. Joey Whelan and Kyle Mangold were 45th and 52nd, respectively, with times of 19:04.60 and 19:26.38.
After Moulder and Schwarz, Newtown’s top girls were: 30. Kathryn D’Alessandro, 22:43.28; 38. Sarah Mawdsley, 22:56.80; 45. Kiera Elkow, 23:12.34; 45. Anna Pickney, 23:50.90; 58. Bridget Spies, 24:03.97.
“They have done a fabulous job representing Newtown High School and their sport,” Russell said of the program, including junior varsity runners, earning the sportsmanship honors.
Brookfield’s Parker Timmerman led a field of 97 finishers in 16:37.79, and New Fairfield’s Gabrielle Richichi was first among 97 girls in 18:50.32.
The race fell on a summerlike day with temperatures around 70 degrees and high humidity. Because of the warm conditions, times were a little bit slower than the runners and their coaches anticipated as fall weather settled in during the weeks leading up to the finals.
“I think the kids are just acclimated to a little cooler than this,” said Dave Foss, coach of the Newtown boys.
Sure, many of the runners are different, but this year’s times relative to order of finish — across the board — were not on course with last year’s when the race unfolded in cooler conditions. Foss and Russell noted that all of the runners had to deal with the same elements.
“We emphasized the whole idea of hydration and how important it is do this. We have run in weather like this before and it is important to be prepared for anything,” Russell said.