Darien boys XC claims second straight division title

The Darien boys cross country team has had a lot going for it the past two seasons.

Last fall, it was FCIAC Western Division regular-season and championship meet titles and, perhaps more importantly, the opening of a new home course on the Darien High School campus.

This year, it’s a repeat regular-season championship which was won in dramatic fashion on the final day of the regular season.

Led by Nick Yoo, Evan O’Rourke, Ansley Skelton and Luke Riordan, the Blue Wave edged host Ludlowe by three points, 26-29, to secure the FCIAC Eastern Division crown last Tuesday in Fairfield.

The Wave also topped Trumbull 21-35, and Stamford 15-49.

Darien finished the season with a 12-3 record, while the Falcons were 11-4 and took second place. The Wave was unbeaten in its division at 7-0.

Darien coach Tyson Kaczmarek summed up the performance with one word: “Wow.”

“I’m so proud of the guys on the team,” Kaczmarek said. “They continue to step up meet after meet. They pick each other up. This was a team victory.”

Yoo, a junior, had the Wave’s top finish as he took third place with a time of 16:59.3 on the 5,000-meter course at Ludlowe.

The next three Darien runners crossed the finish line in rapid succession, with the senior O’Rourke fifth (17:20.09), the junior Skelton sixth (17:37.9), and the senior Riordan seventh (17:48).

Senior Ryan Jones was 11th in 18:03.59 to finish off the Wave’s scoring.

Having five runners in the top 11 allowed Darien to overcome Ludlowe’s strong showing, which featured senior Nathan Cramer, who won the race in 16:29.4.

Falcons’ senior Ethan Carty was fourth in 17:12.09, followed by junior Noah Kingsley in ninth (17:52.5) and sophomore Liam Forrest in 10th (17:54.59). Ludlowe senior Dazjon Freeman was 12th (18:04.09).

Riordan had the biggest move for Darien, as he was 11th in the last mile, but passed four runners, including two from Ludlowe, to finish seventh.

“That was a huge move,” Kaczmarek said. “With a little less than a mile to go, he looked at me and basically said ‘I got this’ before finishing the race off.”

Completing Darien’s top seven, senior Kyle Bloomer was 15th (18:08) and senior Jack Walsh was 23rd (19:23).

It was the Wave’s first repeat division championship since 2013-2014, and was the second straight season in which they clinched the title on the final day of the regular season. Last year it happened during a meet in Greenwich..

“We were in this exact position last year with a majority of these guys,” Kaczmarek said. “ Experience played a huge role in our guys staying composed in the race.

“These guys have been competitive meets all season. They understand the game plan and they execute it.”

The Blue Wave will compete in the FCIAC championships on Wednesday in New Canaan’s Waveny Park. It will be the return of full-conference races, after last year’s races were divided into three divisions due to the pandemic.

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports