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There seems to be plenty of talent on the high school cross country teams in greater Danbury once again this season. Five local teams enter this season with state championships to defend: The New Milford boys (Class L), the Joel Barlow boys (Class MM), the Ridgefield girls (Class LL), the Pomperaug girls (Class L) and the Immaculate girls (Class SS). That was the third consecutive state title for the New Milford boys, and the second straight for the Immaculate girls.

The Ridgefield girls, of course, went on to win the State Open crown as well, capping the in-state portion of their season in style.

On the boys side, there are three local runners back this year who placed in the top 25 at the State Open last year — and two of them are from Danbury. Hatter seniors Dan Nichols finished sixth (16:16) and Tyler Granja 13th (16:22), while New Milford junior Eli Nahom placed 11th (16:21).

“We have two strong, All-State returning runners up front with experience,” Danbury coach Rob Murray said in an email. “The remaining five varsity spots are inexperienced but talented and have been striving to be the best version of themselves all summer. The team is excited to gain experience in the regular season and shine their brightest at the end of the season.”

For the girls, five runners are back who placed in the top 25 at the State Open — and three are from Pomperaug. Panthers junior Ivy Walker placed ninth (19:26), sophomore Madison Villa finished 22nd (19:50) and junior Nina Koobatian took 23rd (19:53), while Immaculate junior Angela Saidman finished fifth (19:12) and Newtown junior Olivia Hage finished 21st (19:43).

Ridgefield sophomore Tess Pisanelli, who finished 20th at the State Open last year, may be sidelined for the whole season with an injury, coach John Goetz said.

“We are eager to pursue the SWC and Class L titles while improving our fourth-place finish at last year’s State Open,” Pomperaug coach Mark Goodwin said.

Whatever happens, Brookfield boys coach Ed Butt offered a recipe for success which all teams would be wise to follow:

“Work hard and smart,” he said in an email. “Have fun. Stay injury-free and be in the mix post-season.”

Sounds like a plan.; @DanburySports