By J.B. Cozens
The Warriors haven’t lost a duel meet since the first week of the 2004 season, are coming off back-to-back undefeated seasons, and have a cumulative record of 50-1 the last three years.
The only thing the Warriors haven’t done, unfortunately, is win the FCIAC title - or even come close.
Last fall saw the team’s run of frustration continue as Wilton again finished a distant second behind four-time FCIAC champ Ridgefield.
Could this be the year that the Warriors finally get over that hump?
On paper, the answer is yes, as the Tigers graduated two of their top four from last year’s squad, while Wilton returns its top six runners and gets a big boost with the addition of junior Cara Costich, one of the best distance runners in the state in track.
But Ridgefield has proven its ability to reload year after year, regardless of who the Tigers lose, and has five of its top seven back, including two-time defending FCIAC champ Heather Stephens.
“We really haven’t challenged them,” said head coach Jeff Gee, whose team finished 46 points behind Ridgefield at last year’s FCIAC finals. “We’ve got to at the very least apply significantly more pressure on them.”
Gee said it was too early to make predictions, but agreed that, in theory, the Warriors should narrow the gap.
“We’re closer to them. The addition of Costich really makes us kind of even through the first two runners,” he said. “Then it’s just a matter of whose third, fourth and fifth runners are stronger. It’s all hypothetical.”
Last year’s success was impressive, regardless of how Wilton fared against Ridgefield. The achievements - a 16-0 season, and second-place showings at the FCIAC and Class MM championships - were produced by a squad whose top seven was made up of a junior, four sophomores and two freshmen.
Leading the team again this year will be senior captain Kendall Lyons, who had a breakout season in 2006 by finishing second at FCIACs and sixth in Class MM, and ended the season by qualifying for the New England championships for the first time.
Costich, who has been a starter on the girls soccer team the past two years, is switching to cross country this fall and should have a tremendous impact on the team’s fortunes. At last spring’s Class MM state championships, she was second in the 1600 meters and fourth in the 3200 - and was second in the 3200 (behind Stephens) at the FCIAC finals.
Junior Phoebe Gaston and sophomore Grace House are coming off strong seasons in which they both earned spots on the first-team All-FCIAC squad. Gaston was the team’s number-two runner all season, taking 15th at the Class MM meet and 12th at FCIACs, while House was the team’s second finisher at FCIACs, taking ninth, and was 19th at the Class MM meet.
Junior Casey Sirotnak and sophomore Kristina Durels were also top five runners for Wilton last year. Sirotnak placed 23rd at FCIACs to earn All-FCIAC honorable mention recognition, and was 23rd at the Class MM meet. Durels finished 27th in Class MM and 32nd in the FCIAC.
Also back is the team’s sixth runner from last year, junior Kate Marcal, along with senior Paige Powell.
After Costich, the other impact newcomer this year is freshman Sarah Guth, while Camille Basurto, who ran well during the indoor track season, could also make an impact.