Moriello finishes fifth at XC State Open

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MANCHESTER — Just six days after the class meets, at which no girl could break the 19-minute mark, six went sub-19 Friday afternoon in a blazing State Open at Wickham Park.

Naugatuck’s Rosa Moriello was among the speedy sextet, finishing fifth in 18 minutes, 54 seconds. She was bested by Nonnewaug’s Jackie Nicholas (18:22), Fairfield Warde’s Meg Ryan (18:23), Glastonbury’s Reid Watson (18:28) and Bunnell’s Lauren Sara (18:29).

Though somewhat disappointed by her place, Moriello’s attitude was decidedly optimistic after the race.

“My coaches [Bill Hanley and Keith Raczkowski] always say that when you don’t run your best, it means your best is still to come,” she said.

Naugatuck's Rosa Moriello (88) finished fifth at Friday's State Open at Wickham Park.
Naugatuck's Rosa Moriello (88) finished fifth at Friday's State Open at Wickham Park.

Although Moriello left the course Oct. 31 with an ice pack on her ankle, following a third-place finish at the Class L meet, she said coming into the Open, she was more concerned about another, more humorous ailment.

“My ankle was the least of my worries,” she said. “My knee, playing ultimate Frisbee in gym—Coach doesn’t know this—I ran into the bleachers and my knee was swollen this past week. I wish I saw it myself; it would have been hilarious, I know. So my knee’s been shaky all week, but it’s fine now too.”

Moriello added that she’s aiming for a top-three finish at next Saturday’s New England championship, also at Wickham Park. She was eighth at the event last fall.

For Woodland, Crystal Steinfeld finished 140th in 21:54, and Brittany Albright was 183rd in 23:05.

Moriello’s younger brother, Nick, took 83rd in the boys’ race, completing what he called a “tough course” in 17:33. The Hawks’ Kyle Cranney followed in 103rd with a time of 17:42.

“Everybody here is fast. It’s a really fast pace,” Cranney said. “You’ve just got to do your best and try your hardest.”

The junior was still on a high after a top-10 finish at the Class M meet, when he assumed the Hawks’ No. 1 spot, in place of an ill Tyler Murphy.

“It felt really good,” Cranney said. “I came in 10th, got a medal. I’ve never gotten any medals before, so it felt good.”

Naugatuck Valley League champion Chris Bendtsen of Wolcott placed second in 15:43, just behind John Raneri of New Fairfield, who won in 15:40.