Goggin, Wilbanks pace Greenwich High in FCIAC X-C finals

After a highly-successful regular season for both the Greenwich High School boys and girls cross-country teams, it was only fitting that they would have an equally successful Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship.

During Thursday’s FCIAC finals, held at Waveny Park in New Canaan, the Greenwich High girls team finished sixth overall, while the boys team netted a ninth place finish.

The GHS girls took sixth overall with 168 points and just beat out Westhill, who finished seventh overall with 171 points. Ridgefield dominated the competition and won the FCIAC championship with 55 points. The next closest team was Darien High, who took second overall with 94 points. Danbury grabbed the bronze with 112 points and Wilton finished fourth with 117 points. Fairfield Warde High School rounded out the top five, finishing with 120 points.

“Our coaches were great for us all year,” GHS sophomore Jennifer Goggin said. “They’ve all done a great job. Our leadership with Lindsay (Noskin) and Kathryn (Bernstein) was great. They showed great leadership throughout the season and they kept us going strong.”

Leading the way for the Greenwich High girls squad was Goggin, as she was the first Lady Cardinal to cross the finish line and was 16th overall, netting a time of 15:33.

“It was a big race today,” Goggin said. “I was a little nervous going into it, but I really thought I pushed it towards the end. I think we really worked well as a team. I saw the runners on the team in the race and we all helped each other push forward. It was a tough race, but we knew what we wanted to do and I thought we achieved our goals.”

While a lot of the hills and running through the woods could be considered a challenge, Goggin stated that the mental game was the most difficult.

“Once you get your head in the right place and know what you want to accomplish, things work out,” Goggin said. “You can’t take no for an answer and you just have to go through the course.”

Right behind her was freshman standout Sabrina Thurber, as she took 18th overall with a time of 15:36.

“I am proud of this team because we’ve done so well,” Thurber said. “Our top seven are such good runners. I think we did really well and kept each other going throughout the race. It’s really important in cross-country because it’s such a team sport. I liked the course. It wasn’t too hilly, so that was nice. I also like running through the woods because it keeps things interesting.”

For Thurber, having Goggin next to her throughout the race was extremely important.

“Since we are friends, it made the competition more exciting,” Thurber said. “She definitely pushed me to go a little faster during the race. I felt tired throughout the race, but with Jenny beside me, she pushed me on.”

Kathryn Bernstein, a senior co-captain, crossed the finish line third on the team and 42nd overall, netting a time of 16:21. A pair of GHS sophomores were right on Bernstein’s heels, as Elaine Harris finished 44th overall with a time of 16:22 and Emily Hunt crossed the finish line four places later, netting a time of 16:26.

Junior Kana Jitsuno battled teammate Emma Fountain, a sophomore, down the final stretch. Jitsuno edged out Fountain, finishing 60th overall with a time of 16:50, while Fountain was 61st and grabbed a time of 16:53.

Senior and team co-captain Lindsey Noskin wasn’t far away from the duo of Fountain and Jitsuno, finishing the course with a time of 17:34 that was good enough for 79th place.

“I am more of a sprinter, but I have been doing this sport for four years now,” Noskin said. “Waveny is actually my favorite course, so I know that in the woods I should sprint my way up, since that’s what I am good at. I am proud of my finish and that’s what matters to me.”

For Noskin, going through the woods and the sprint to the finish line was a piece of cake. However the middle was quite the challenge.

“The beginning, you go up fast and you’re feeling really good, but the middle you start to question why you’re doing this,” Noskin said. “I just looked at the crowd and all the support that they were giving and then remembered why I was doing this. The finish was easy for me because it’s a sprint to the finish line.”

“This year has been great for us,” added Noskin. “Our team has the mentality that we need to win as a team, rather than as an individual. I think that actually makes us do better because when you focus on doing well and it puts more focus on you. In this sport, it helps you. I am so proud of these girls. They kept on wanting to go faster during practice and it shows during this race.”

On the boys side, Big Red took ninth overall with 211 points. Big Red was seven points away from Trumbull High, which took eighth overall with 202. Wilton High finished seventh with 202 points. Overall, Danbury took the FCIAC championship with an impressive 53 points. Staples High School netted the silver with 68 points and Darien High placed third with 72 points.

“I think we did really nice,” senior Dan Wilbanks said. “We were unsure of our fifth guy at times throughout the season, but when I turned around at the finish line, I saw Spencer (Helmrich) come a lot closer to me than before. That was great to see. The spread was really nice and you could tell by the way we all finished.”

When it came to Greenwich finishers, no one was better than senior Dan Wilbanks, who crossed the finish line 32nd overall and netted a time of 17:15.

“It was a little warm at some points during the race, but I thought I ran pretty well,” Wilbanks said. “I know a lot of the guys that I was running next to ran pretty well too. I found the woods to be the most challenging because it’s at the spot where your legs start to get weak and you know you have to push, but aren’t sure how much to push and save for the sprint. I was really able to push it with 600-meters to go. I was strong there.”

Junior Mark Jarombek was second on Big Red and 36th overall, finishing with a time of 17:25. Like Thurber, Jarombek also agreed that having another GHS athlete nearby helped his performance.

“I thought we did pretty good today,” Jarombek said. “We were pretty spaced out evenly between opponent. It was a tough course, but I thought we ran it really well. The competition on the course stepped up a lot from last year, but I think we improved as well. I felt good. Dan (Wilbanks) and I stayed next to each other throughout most of the race and helped push each other on.”

Mark Jarombek’s brother, senior Andrew Jarombek, finished close to the top two Greenwich athletes, crossing the finish line 41st overall and taking home a time of 17:31. Also finishing in the top 50 was junior John Sulich, who took home a time of 17:40 and that was good enough for 48th overall.

Greenwich’s fifth runner, Helmrich, had a stellar afternoon, crossing the finish line 54th overall and had a time of 17:53. Not to be outdone was junior Jimmy Agresta, who finished sixth on Big Red and 75th overall, crossing the line with a time of 18:29. Rounding out the scoring for the Cardinals was senior Ross Lodato, who finished 83rd overall and had a time of 18:46.

Both the boys and girls cross-country teams will travel to Wickham Park in New Britain Saturday for competition in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL championships. The girls team will take to the course at 10:20 a.m.

“This team is trying to go as far as they can,” Goggin said. “We work really hard as a team and want to go forward. I am so proud of this team. It’s been a lot of fun. We had a lot of new girls that came in and brought a lot of team spirit with them. They were awesome. I am also proud of the upperclassmen, who worked so hard and were determined to do so well.”

The boys team will compete at the CIAC class LL cross-country championships at 10:55 a.m.

“We didn’t lose a lot of guys from last year, so we had some high expectations coming into this year,” Wilbanks said. “We really ran strong together today and proved how good of a team we are. I think we will also do well at states.”

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