An all-New England effort by Zachary Kraus helped propel the New Milford High School boys' cross country team to sixth place at Saturday's New England championship meet in Manchester.

Coach Chris Bacich's Green Wave totalled 245 points for its first five finishers to trail Bishop Hendricken (105) of Rhode Island, Bishop Quertin (106) of New Hampshire, Pinkerton Academy (119) of New Hampshire, Hanover, N.H. (172) and LaSalle (244) of Rhode Island in a 30-team field.

NMHS' closest state foes were Hamden (252) in seventh and Xavier of Middletown (258) in eighth place over Wickham Park's rain-slickened, five-kilometer course.

"Beating Xavier and holding off Hamden gave us bragging rights as the day's best Connecticut team, but Bishop Henricken and Bishop Guertin both had packs close to the front and were well beyond our reach," appraised coach Bacich.

Kraus capped a bravura run of strong meets this fall with a 14th-place time of 16:40, 43 seconds behind New England champion John Raneri of neighboring New Fairfield.

"Zack's All-New England effort was a major highlight and something for which he's done everything to deserve," noted his coach.

Chasing him to the wire were Green Wave teammates Patrick Clare (76th, 17:38), Joel Anderson (104th, 17:55), Nick Grudev (105th, 17:55), Cole Rossiter (113th, 18:00), Derek Vill (172nd, 18:37) and Kerry Chayka (199th, 18:53) in an elite, 266-runner field.

"The muddy conditions slowed down the times considerably, but the quality teams found a way to adjust," observed coach Bacich.

For six of the Green Wave's top seven runners, Saturday's event lowered the curtain on their NMHS harrier careers, including experiences as four-times champs in the South-West Conference and Oct. 31's run to the state class 'L' title at Wickham.

"Our seniors, Zack, Pat, Joel, Cole, Derek, and Kerry, won't soon forget their days running Wickham's Green Monster," concluded coach Bacich.

Even as laundry bills lingered from Saturday's muddy ordeal, the Green Wave mentor was looking ahead to next fall.

"We've already begun talking to our returnees about next year's possibilities," smiled coach Bacich.

-- Norm Cummings