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Class MM state championship: Centaurs place 4th

The cross-country season just goes by too fast for veteran runners and coaches like Joe Banas of Woodstock Academy.

“Cross-country is definitely the fastest season of all of them. It’s over way too early. I can remember when I was in high school that we went almost to mid-November. Back then, we had sectionals, then the Class Meets and then the State Open. It’s over way too soon for me now. I’m going to be going through withdrawal,” Banas said with a laugh.

But it ended on a good note for his Centaurs girls team as it finished fourth in the Class MM state championship meet at Wickham Park in Manchester Saturday.

The Centaurs finished with 179 points, just behind first-place Guilford (89), Pomperaug (107) and East Lyme (120).

“I mentioned to the girls earlier in the week that I wanted a top-5 finish and they delivered it so that was good,” Banas said.

What was even better was that a freshman led them to the finish line.

Olivia Tracy finished just outside of the top-12, who qualify for the State Open, with a 16th-place finish in 21 minutes, 50 seconds.

“Olivia had only run 99 miles over the summer so if we can add to that next summer, she will definitely be one that will probably be going to the (State) Open,” Banas said.

Another returning runner, junior Julia Coyle, was just 11 seconds behind her younger teammate in 21st place.

Coyle had held the lead over Tracy until about 600 meters were left in the race when Tracy kicked by her teammate going up the “green monster” -  the hill that finishes the 5K course at Wickham.

“Olivia found another gear,” Banas said. “Julia and Kira don’t have that gear yet and girls were able to pass them. It’s something you have to have. You have to be able to finish and that’s what I’ve told them.”

Greene, a sophomore, finished 45th.

Seniors Lauren Brule in 49th and Tessa Brown in 51st completed the Centaurs top five.

“The course was perfect, there were no issues at all in getting traction,” Banas said.

It was something he was concerned about considering the Centaurs were running in the next-to-last race of the day.

It was even better when the weather conditions were factored in.

“The temperature was 59 degrees at the start of the race. That was perfect. The first race was 36 degrees,” Banas said.