Reclaiming the title
For two years, the South-West Conference's boys' cross country title plaque had resided elsewhere from New Milford.
That fact hadn't sat well with the perennially strong New Miford High School harriers.
NMHS had won 10 straight championships before being dethroned in 2012.
With junior Stosh Davis leading the way with his individual title run, Bacich's pack is back on top.
New Milford placed six runners in the top 25 to win the team title in dominating fashion with 44 points. Pomperaug took second with 84 points.
"We were extremely motivated to get it back," said Bacich, whose teams had claimed runner-up honors each of the last two seasons. "We had a series of championships there for a while and we started to feel that it was our right to have it.
"The fact is, you really have to earn it," he added. "It's a tough conference. There are good teams out there and we knew it would be a battle today."
Davis won with a time of 16 minutes, 38.5 seconds on Bethel High's five-kilometer course. He led from start to finish, knowing that it would take a gutsy effort to reclaim the title.
"I wanted to take it from the beginning," Davis said. "I wanted to make a statement."
Rounding out the top five for New Milford, Greg Hansell placed fourth (17:06.06), Richard Grudzwick finished ninth (17:27.97), Brady Clarke took 12th (17:35.57) and Zachary Pitcher came in 18th (17:58.38).
The Wave was undefeated at 13-0 during the regular season.
"We've been working since June to get this back. This has been our goal," Davis said. "We just wanted it so badly. Nothing has ever felt better."
The Green Wave girls earned fourth place among 14 distaff teams with 134 points, well in arrears of the top teams -- New Fairfield (60), Pomperaug (60) and Newtown (75).
NMHS sophomore Mia Nahom established herself as one of the area's premier runners with a strong runner-up performance.
The lanky Green Wave athlete clocked 18:58 to trail only now two-time champ Gabrielle Richichi (18:48), of New Fairfield.
Senior Nicole McCarthy capped her SWC cross country career in style with a 12th-place finish, good to join Nahom in capturing all-SWC individual honors.
The Green Wave boys and girls will be in action Saturday, Oct. 25 at Wickham Park in Manchester in state class races.
The NMHS boys will kick off at noon as one of the favorites in the Class L race, while the Green Wave girls will face a tall order battling the top teams of class LL at 1 p.m.
Neighboring Shepaug Valley High, which was set to compete last Friday in its Berkshire League championship race, will run at 2:05 and 2:40, respectively, in Class S girls' and boys' competition.
For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.
Photography by Norm Cummings