ECC meet a memorable one for local runners
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Plainfield - 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 almost 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 16 seconds after Lenehan, with a time of 19:55 to Lenehan’s 19:39. “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,” she said.
Plainfield’s girls placed second in the overall team rankings, behind Griswold, but claimed top honors in the ECC’s small division.
Ruffo and Lenehan will meet up again this weekend at the state meet and the following weekend at the State Open. They’ll be jockeying for position with Griswold’s Alyssa Brehler, last year’s state champion, who’s also a contender for the top spot but placed fifth at the ECCs, behind freshman teammate Megan Perez. The top 20 runners from the State Open advance to the New England championships in November.
“Me and Alyssa have been competitive since eighth grade,” said Ruffo. “She wins some, I win some.” A runner since age 8, Ruffo said she has been racing competitively since fifth grade.
The competition between Brehler and Ruffo may intensify next year, as Lenehan will graduate from NFA this spring. She’s looking at Holy Cross, Columbia and Connecticut College, but said, “I’d definitely run wherever I go.”
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.