East Lyme boys win fourth straight title behind individual champ Anthony

·3 min read

Oct. 22—NORWICH — Affable East Lyme High School senior Luke Anthony, the star of the show Thursday at the Eastern Connecticut Conference cross country championship, appeared a little more stern than normal in spite of having crossed the finish line more than a minute ahead of everyone for his first such title.

When he finally got word of the team results, an overall East Lyme victory, his smile widened.

"This was really team-oriented," Anthony said. "We each had our own plans going into it. My job was to get to the front and secure that first spot and then each of the other guys had their own jobs. We were all on the same page, who was going to do what. I mean, I'm happy (to win) but I was more focused on the team with this one."

Anthony blazed his way around Norwich Golf Course to finish in 16 minutes, 20 seconds, leading East Lyme to a narrow victory over Griswold and Norwich Free Academy with 78 points. Griswold, led by Michael Strain in second place (17:27) finished second with 84 points and Norwich Free Academy was third with 86. NFA was led by Ethan Manfredi's fourth-place finish (17:34).

Brendan Fant in ninth (17:51), Kai Ritz in 15th (18:49), Noah Krishnaswami in 21st (19:21) and Ted Bergman in 32nd (19:47) also scored for East Lyme, which finished unbeaten to win the ECC Division I title. The Vikings were missing usual No. 3 runner Sean McCauley due to injury, thus coach Mike Flynn said he knew the meet would be a tight one with East Lyme's top seven including three sophomores, two juniors and two seniors.

"It's incredible," Fant said of what was East Lyme's fourth straight title. "I'm really glad that we were all able to come here today and perform to the best of our abilities. We knew it was going to be a fight all along and we knew it was going to be close. I'm glad it ended in our favor."

Fant said it wasn't unusual for Anthony to be more concerned about the team than his own remarkable accomplishment.

"He's one of the most encouraging kids on the team," Fant said. "He makes sure to talk to everybody whether they're on the varsity team or the JV team. Obviously, he's been competing and running longer than I have and he's able to share that with everyone. Really, just he encourages everyone. I couldn't be happier for him."

Anthony said his only goal Thursday was to "get the win and try to put some points on the board for the team" instead of taking a stab at the course record of 15:52, set by Griswold's Tradelle Ward in 2004. Anthony's dad, John, formerly ran for NFA, providing a tie to the setting at Norwich Golf Course.

"I mean, just the amount of people that have been on it ... my dad ran this course," Anthony said. "So, I mean, I just love being able to run in the same footsteps as Chad (Johnson, former three-time ECC champion and teammate of John Anthony at NFA)."

Waterford finished unbeaten to claim Division II, Griswold took Division III and Plainfield won Division IV. Plainfield's Jack Pothier finished third overall in 17:32.

Jacob Strain was fifth and Lucas Strain eighth for Griswold, joining brother Michael — the three juniors are triplets — in the top 10. Michael outkicked a large pack of runners to finish in the second position.

"We wanted the title but we knew it was close and we didn't come here expecting to win it," Michael Strain said of the close second to East Lyme. "It's always the goal but second place is still pretty good for us. We're a Class S team, the smallest division, against Class MM schools. You can hope for the best (at ECCs) but we have states and stuff. States is what we're gunning for."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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