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Young Wilton Runners Shine At State Cross Country Meet

Wilton Running Club teammates (left to right) Angela Saidman,  Cora Creighton, Emily Welch and Tess Pisanelli finished in the top 10 in their division in Sunday's race.
Wilton Running Club teammates (left to right) Angela Saidman, Cora Creighton, Emily Welch and Tess Pisanelli finished in the top 10 in their division in Sunday's race. Photo Credit:

WILTON, Conn. – Wilton Running Club crowned an individual champion and two teams qualified for regional competition in its most successful day ever Sunday at the Connecticut Junior Olympics Cross Country championships in Litchfield.

Angela Saidman won the 11-12-year-old division in course record time for Wilton. The 13- and 14-year-old girls team 11-12-year old boys teams finished third and qualified for this weekend’s regional race at Wappingers Falls, N.Y. Wilton will take its largest contingent ever to regionals. The top teams and individuals at regionals will advance to the national championships in San Antonio, Texas in December.

“We’re deep this year,’’ coach Mary Zengo said. “It’s not like we have one or two people. We have strength throughout our teams.”

Saidman won the 11-12-year-old 3-kilometer race in 10:43.81d. Teammates Emily Welch (fifth), Tess Pisanelli (seventh) and Cora Creighton (10th) finished in the top 10.

In the girls 13-14-year-old division, Wilton took third with 67 points. Kathleen Murphy finished sixth, followed by Julia Hergenrother (13th), Susannna Martin (15th), Eliza Kleban (29th) and Devin Moore (33rd). Jasmine Humphrey and Marjorie McWilliams also ran for Wilton.

The boys 11-12 team took third in a tight race. Wilton finished with 71 points, just behind Tomlinson Running Club of Fairfield (61 points) and New Haven Track Club (68). (The low score wins in cross country).

Flynn Crowther (seventh) led Wilton followed by Sean McHale (12th), Tyler Zengo (15th), Ben Grass (23rd) and John Bunce (30th). Josh Farhi (38th) and Andrew Bucciero (39th) also ran for Wilton.

“On any given day, any one of those runners can be up front,’’ Zengo said. “That’s a very deep team.”

In the 9-10-year-old boys race, Joey Bevilacqua finished 10th, while Ben Ruffing was seventh in the 13-14-year-old race and Scottie Candee was 30th. Julian Ponjay was 34th in the 9-10 division.

“All of these runners peaked at the right point,’’ Zengo said. “Most of them are running close to six minutes per mile. They’re just absolutely flying.”

Saidman finished seventh last year in the national championships in her age group. This year, she is among the older girls in the division and has continued to evolve into one of the nation's elite. Saidman’s time in the state race was 33 seconds faster than her winning time last year, and  21 seconds faster than the time of the winner in last year’s national championship.

“She’s such a beautiful runner,’’ Zengo said. “I told her to go after the course record, and she really pushed it.”

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