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Team Effort Leads Nighthawk Girls To Cross Country Championship And Boys Earn Second



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BETHEL — Four of the top five girls' squads in the October 18 girls' South-West Conference cross country championships at Bethel High School claimed the top four individual finishes. The other, Newtown High, had two runners among the top ten however, and each of the team's best five were among the top 20. The results added up to a championship for the Nighthawks whose top five runners totaled 67 points, eight better than Immaculate of Danbury, the only team to defeat the Nighthawks during the regular season.

The seemingly individual athletic activity proved to be truly a collective effort as the Nighthawks showed their depth led by seventh- and eight-place finishers Rylee Harrell and Emily Tressler, clocking in with times of 20:27.56 and 20:29.11.

Pomperaug of Southbury's Kate Wiser won the race for the third year in a row, finishing in 17:52.14.

Newtown's Maddie Fetchick was 15th in 21:15.75. The Nighthawks took spots 18 through 20. Courtney Henchcliffe finished in 21:30.24, Emily Litke came across the line in 21:37.67, and Hallie Filan completed the race in 21:39.09. Each of the top six Nighthawk runners earned All SWC accolades for finishing among the top 24 (the first dozen runners make First Team), and Newtown's seventh, Gloria Rowley, broke the top 30 with a 29th-place finish in 22:21.70.

"Our mantra this year is we're a family. The girls work really hard and stay together," Newtown Coach Christina Caron said. "We had seven girls who ran with in under a minute of each other."

Caron added that, in addition to the top two runners, Newtown's middle of the pack competitors came up huge in this meet.

Harrell and Tressler said they push each other, as do their cluster of teammates who helped the Hawks manage the best team score.

"We knew Immaculate was going to be very tough to beat," said Caron, adding that the Hawks expected to be chased by Pomperaug and New Milford.

Pomperaug was third with 80 points, Bethel surprised a bit and placed fourth with 93, and New Milford came in fifth with 102.

"It was a surprise. We worked hard for it," Harrell said.

"It was amazing," Tressler added.

On the boys' side, New Milford won the race with a score of 57. The Nighthawks were second with 81 points, nine better than Pomperaug. Weston was fourth with 105, and Immaculate fifth with 122.

Pomperaug's Trey Generali led the field in a time of 16:39.15. New Milford's Robert Harkin was second in 16:46.54. Newtown's fastest finisher was Max Bloomquist who was eighth in 17:15.86. Teammate Will Tainter-Gilbert was 12th in 17:26.73, Nick Jacobs was 14th in 17:31.57, Drew Poseno came in 22nd in 18:01.19, Jack Kuligowski was 25th in 18:13.31. D.J. Bobowick came in 37th in 18:36.33, and Max Hanson was 44th in 18:47.25.

"I'm happy for the boys. The boys ran well. I'm happy for the girls — they ran very well," said Newtown Coach Carl Strait, adding that he was impressed with New Milford's effort as the Green Wave won their first title since 2016 after claiming three in a row.

Newtown High's girls' cross country team celebrates winning the SWC banner. (Bee Photos, Hutchison)
Rylee Harrell was Newtown's fastest finisher.
Emily Tressler, right, was second for Newtown. Next to her is Pomperaug's Madison Villa.
Will Tainter-Gilbert (No. 334) and Nick Jacobs (No. 308) are cheered on by fans along the course.
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