Shepaug girls come close to state title

The Shepaug High School girls cross country team knew it would be in the running for a state title and gave it their best shot before falling short.

The Spartans were close to their goal of a state title, but were edged by Derby, 89-98, at the Class S Championships last Friday at Wickham Park.

“Going into the state meet we knew it would be a two team battle between Derby and us,” Shepaug coach John Spear said. “But we could not recreate the magic of our Berkshire League Championship win. It is difficult to peak two weeks in a row and as a coach that is something I need to go back and assess.”

The Spartans were led by Eilish Foy, who finished third overall in 20:23, the fastest time in school history at Wickham Park. Foy edged out the top two Derby runners to give Shepaug a chance.

Elisa Afouni finished 12th overall and 11th in the team placings in 21:22 and Aileen Rosa, Erin McGrath and Jolie Grazia finished 17th, 27th and 40th, respectively.

Shepaug had four runners finish 27th or better while Derby had three, but Derby also had runners in 30th and 32nd as well as two in the top five to pull out the title.

“Every time we had a finisher Derby was right behind or right in front of us,” Spear said. “It was heartbreaking to lose by such a small amount and to know that these girls gave everything they had and we came up a little short. All the credit needs to go to the Derby coaching staff and runners as they had a championship performance last Friday.”

Despite coming up just short in the Class S race, Shepaug gets another crack at a title and the Wickham Park course in the State Open.

“Back to back trips to State Opens is a nice consolation prize,” Spear said. “It is exciting to run against the top teams in the state and to see how competitive we are with teams from schools that are double to 9-10 times the size of us. The girls will be looking to beat at least one team as the Class S runner-up customarily comes in last place at Opens.”