BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Darien made it back-to-back Class L titles in boys cross country with a slim win 87-89 over E.O. Smith, finishing also just ahead of Fairfield Warde with 93 points, at Wickham Park in Manchester on Saturday.
We were very, very fortunate today. We definitely had luck on our side.
— Tyson Kaczmarek
“It was an awesome day,” Wave coach Tyson Kaczmarek said. “Someone was watching out for us. Unbelievable.”
Top runners for the Blue Wave included Marshall Huffman who was fifth in 17:01, Colten Appleby 13th in 17:20, Brian Davey 19th in 17:37, Peter Kreuch 24th in 17:49, Ben Olsen 26th in 17:51, Arthur Cassidy 37th in 18:07 and Jack Sparkman 50th in 18:21.
The win came in dramatic fashion.
Last week at the FCIAC Championship, Darien lost its top runner, Alex Ostberg, for the remainder of the season to a fractured fibula.
Ostberg managed to finish the FCIAC race 11th.
Going into the Class L meet, Darien was probably the favorite with Ostberg. Without him, though, Farmington moved into the driver’s seat.
Except Farmington also suffered from the injury bug as its No. 4 runner Edward Tomasso was hurt and did not run.
This meant the field was wide open for the Wave and several other teams including E.O. Smith, Pomperaug and Fairfield Warde.
And Darien was out well the first half of the race and in good position.
But during the second half of the race, pure chaos ensued as both Warde and E.O. Smith finished the race very strong.
So when scores were announced it became a nail biter.
“We were very, very fortunate today,” Kaczmarek said. “We definitely had luck on our side.
“The guys work so hard and then to lose a guy like Alex, it is a major blow.
“But, our team could have folded, they could have given up. They never did.
“Losing never crossed their mind. They knew we could find a way to win.”
Darien did its homework.
“At our scouting meeting, we knew other teams were vulnerable,” Kaczmarek added. “We just wanted to capitalize on it.”
Others stepped up.
“Marshall, Brian and Arthur had amazing races today,” the coach said. “They were the difference in the meet. Without their strong finishes we don’t win.”
After looking at the results more closely, the battle with E.O. Smith was extremely tight, it became clear to Kaczmarek.
“Huffman was two places ahead of E.O. Smith’s No. 1 runner while two Darien runners and two E.O. Smith runners each beat their respective counterpart from the opposing team by one place.”
It was a big surprise.
“I was shocked when I looked at it,” Kaczmarek said. “I try to score the meet as I watch it, but it gets hard especially when I’m timing the race and trying to communicate to the guys all at once.
“I was so nervous when they were announcing scores.”
Darien’s been knocking on this door for some time. Now the door’s kicked in.
“We know how it feels to come up short,” said Kaczmarek. “We have been second at the state meet four times. We didn’t want it to be five times, especially as many of these guys came up short during the indoor season to Windsor at states. We lost that by four points.”
This is Darien’s third state title in the past four years (Class L ’12, ’11, Class MM ’09) and sixth straight year with a top two finish in the class meet (Class MM ’07, ’08, Class L ’10).
“When we lost to Bristol Central in 2010, it was heartbreaking for the guys,” Kaczmarek said. “We ran a perfect race and Bristol Central just had two guys step up and win it for them.
“There was nothing we could do. It was an awful feeling. We were motivated never to come up short at this meet.”
They were motivated, and they remembered.
“All we ask is for an opportunity to win. We got that opportunity this year and made the most of it.”
Huffman earned All-State honors.
Huffman, Appleby and Ostberg were First Team All-FCIAC last week at FCIACs.
Ben Olsen, Peter Kreuch and Brian Davey were Second Team All-FCIAC as well.
Huffman and Kreuch join Charlie Baird and Michael Johnston as the only four people to win two state titles in boys’ cross country at DHS.
Darien High has three state titles in boys XC in the last four years, the only three in DHS history.