Shepaug girls cross country prepare to run for titles

The Shepaug High School girls cross country team has hit the championship portion of its schedule and is ready to compete for titles.

The Spartans went 7-1 during the regular season and competed in the Stratton Brook, Winding Trails and Wickham Invitationals. The Berkshire League Championship meet is scheduled for Friday at Black Rock State Park in Thomaston and Shepaug is rounding into shape just when it needs to.

“We ran into some injury and sickness issues last week but seem to be getting healthy at the right time,” Shepaug coach John Spear said. “The league appears to be wide open with six or seven girls that can win the title and four teams that could be crowned champions.”

The Spartans are one of the teams in the running for the BL title and they have a few candidates to take the individual title home.

According to Spear, Elisa Afiouni has begun to run like a true No. 1 runner and Eilish Foy and Aileen Rosa give the Spartans talented depth at the top of the lineup.

“Elisa, Eilish and Aileen give us one of the best 1-2-3 punches in the Berkshire League and State,” Spear said.

Erin McGrath and Jolie Grazia have been training well and appear to be ready to peak for the upcoming championship season and Spear is hopeful that all the work the team has put in will pay dividends in the coming weeks.

“We are hoping that all the summer work and mileage begins to pay off at this point,” he said.

The CIAC Class S State Championship meet is scheduled for Oct. 27 at Wickham Park and Spear expects the Spartans to have a crack at winning the title.

“Class S is also relatively open with Derby, Hale Ray, East Hampton, and St. Bernard all coming in with a chance,” he said. “We are definitely in the mix for both titles.”

Through the course of a successful regular season, the Spartans have turned out to be a group that works hard and pulls for each other. Both qualities go a long way toward success in cross country.

“This group is very dedicated to hard work and each other,” Spear said. “They are supportive from number one to number nine and really want to win more for the other girls on the team than themselves.”

Last season the Spartans came up just short in both the BL and Class S meets. Every mile put in, every training session and every meet has been geared toward improving as runners and improving on both of those close calls.

“They’ve been through this last year and are committed to improving from our runner up finish in both championship meets,” Spear said. “They have held each other accountable since the end of June with that goal in mind.”