By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
MANCHESTER — Eleven days after cruising past the competition to win the Naugatuck Valley League cross country championship, Woodland senior Chloe Poulos ran into school history.
Poulos won the Class SS girls cross country race Nov. 1 with a time of 19 minutes, 54 seconds over the 5-kilometer course at Wickham Park. She beat runner-up Kaylee Gravel of East Hampton by 28 seconds.
Poulos is the first runner in Woodland’s 20-year history to win a cross country state championship.
“There are so many factors that go into it,” Woodland cross country coach Jeff Lownds said. “Winning a state championship is no small feat and a rarity in itself. What stood out for me as her coach, is the preparation she used to pull this off.”
Poulos, who will run next year at Siena College, finished 27th as a freshman and 11th as a sophomore. There was no state meet in 2020.
Poulos’ plan was to stick with the lead group for at least 2 miles and then make her move.
Actually, she surged in front just a bit over a mile into the race.
“I heard the other girls breathing, and I could tell they were working harder. I wanted to make my move while I felt stronger,” she told the Republican-American.
Poulos built a sizeable gap between her and Gravel, even though she didn’t know it. She did take one quick peek back with 1 kilometer to go, but thought her competitors were closer than they were.
“I guess that was a good thing to keep me pushing hard,” Poulos said.
The girls team placed fourth overall in the Class SS division and the boys placed fifth in the Class M race.
“We had a great season,” Lownds said. “The boys, 13-0 NVL champs, the girls, 12-1 NVL runner-up.”
“But what makes this so special is Chloe Poulos being the first Woodland cross country state champion,” he added. “That is so rare indeed.”
Kim Poulos placed 30th in 23:55 for Woodland, followed by Faye Carnemolla (36th, 24:14), Katherine Foley (44th, 24:59), Kayla Drmic (47th, 25:07) and Lily Miko (51st, 25:26).
In the boys race, Colin Slavin placed sixth in 17:21 to lead the Hawks. Nick LaChapelle (16th, 18:00) Sam Ambroccio (31st, 18:46), Chase Young (32nd, 18:49), Eric Meade (79th, 20:18), Gabriel Diamante (89th, 20:25) and Kayo Niebrzydowski (99th, 20:51) ran for Woodland.
Chloe Poulos and Slavin both earned All-State honors and are set to compete at the State Open on Nov. 5.
The Republican-American contributed to this article.