Title-hopeful Green Wave boys and girls cross country packs fell short in their quest for South-West Conference laurels Oct. 18 at Bethel High School.
New Milford High boys coach Chris Bacich saw the program's 10-year run as SWC kings of the hill end despite a spirited effort in Bethel.
Newtown totaled 57 points for its top five runners to edge the Green Wave's balanced 65-point performance.
Weston and Brookfield shared third place with a distant 106, clearly indicating what a two-horse race this meet had been.
"Yes, it was disappointing to fall short," said coach Bacich, "but Newtown came up strong in what we had initially thought was a down year for them as far as lineup strength."
"We ran a fairly good race overall," he said philosophically, "and things could have gone in our favor if a few little things had gone differently, but we weren't the best team that afternoon."
John Hansell and Ryan Clarke finished fourth and sixth, respectively, to lead the Green Wave, and were followed by Zach Guptill (15th), Jay Humphreys (17th), Hugh Sichel (23rd), Greg Hansell (28th) and Adam Dengler (32nd).
Coach Giles Vaughan's Green Wave girls were touted amongst the pre-race favorites but settled for third place with 87 points, trailing Pomperaug's 62 and Immaculate's 66 in the 13-team field.
"SWCs came down to some good old-fashioned pack running," shrugged coach Vaughan. "The best pack was that of Pomperaug. ... That is what we have been able to do to other teams this year, and why we have been successful."
"Our pack started at 11th place," he reflected, "and that was too far back from the other teams' front runners."
Jessica Noteware showed the way for the Green Wave in 11th place and was chased home by NMHS teammates Sophia Amaral (13th), Marissa Stumpf (17th), Emily Day (21st), Carly Kleinstern (26th), Alexis Kersten (30th) and Annelise Gawlak (32nd).
Both Green Wave teams will be searching for a form of redemption, as well as state accolades, when they toe the line Saturday morning at Wickham Park in East Hartford in their respective Class LL races.
For coverage of those races and more photos, see next week's Spectrum and check www.newmilfordspectrum.com.