ECC cross-country championships memorable for local runners
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Oct. 22, 2012
Norwich Free Academy’s Brianna Lenehan won bragging rights as the fastest girl in the Eastern Connecticut Conference on Oct. 18, at the ECC championships in Norwich. Lenehan edged out rival Kerri Ruffo from Plainfield, who ran shoulder-to-shoulder with her through much of the Norwich Golf Club course. “We were working together the whole time right up to the last 400 meters or so,” said Lenehan. “Even in track last year, we worked together to get our time down.”
Ruffo crossed the finish line about 20 seconds after Lenehan. “I led the whole race, but Brianna has a lot of speed,” Ruffo said. A junior, Ruffo was last year’s ECC champ. “It wasn’t my focus to win this [meet] this year. My focus is on the state open.” Lenehan, who’s a senior, is looking at Holy Cross, Connecticut College and Columbia for next year. “I’d definitely run wherever I go,” she said.
Griswold girls' cross-country coach Mike Flynn said he wasn’t at all surprised that his team of fewer than a dozen girls clinched the ECC team title. “The team went into the event saying we could win, and we proved it,” he said. Freshman Megan Perez came across the finish line in fourth place, just ahead of her teammate, Alyssa Brehler, who along with Lenehan and Ruffo had been a favorite for one of the top three spots. Brehler, who had stumbled just short of the finish line and lost her lead at the Wickham Invitational two weeks prior, “has got some physical issues that we’re working out,” he said.
Flynn has already set his sights to the state championships this weekend at Wickham Park in Manchester, followed by the state opens the week after on the same course. “Hopefully we can either stay or get healthy,” he said of his runners. “That’s the meet we really focus on, physically and mentally. We put everything into next week.”
In the boys’ race, NFA’s Kyle Liang won top individual honors; the large division team championship went to East Lyme, with NFA placing second. Saint Bernard won the boys’ small division championship, with Saints freshman Connor Gralton placing third in the varsity race.