The Gunnery Girls Varsity Cross Country Team took first place in the 2019 NEPSTA DIII Cross Country Championships held November 9 at White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield. A total of 478 runners from independent high schools around New England participated. Girls Varsity placed first among 24 teams with three runners, Gianna Russillo '20, Eujin Shin '21 and Vivian Boucher '23, finishing in the top 20 varsity girls overall.
Teammates Ksenia Korobov '21 and MacKenzie Teper '21 finished six seconds apart, placing 23rd and 24th, respectively, at 21:12 and 21:18. Ellie McManus '21 finished at 23:54 and Yolanda Wang '21 at 24:27. Together the team accumulated a score of 65 points, which put them ahead of St. George's, which came in second with 80 points, and Holderness School, which came in third with 96 points.
“We kind of blew them out of the water,” a jubilant Russillo said as she addressed students and faculty at School Meeting on Monday. She thanked Head Coach Morgen Fisher '03 and Assistant Coaches Richard Martin P'23 and Ed Small for running such a successful event and guiding the team through a successful season, and congratulated the boys varsity team on a season well done.
“We were undefeated this year as well. No one beat us all year, so we're pretty cool,” Russillo said of the girls varsity team. She then presented the trophy to Head of School Peter Becker to great applause as she proclaimed, “We are New England Champions.”
“What they've accomplished is really amazing and deserves to be celebrated,” said Becker, who was in Litchfield to see the team compete before heading to New Milford to cheer on the Highlanders at Canterbury Day.
“You just did an amazing job. Schools don't win New England championships very often. There is only one by definition per season,” he said. By way of celebrating the team's hard work and excellent results from the beginning to the end of the season, he invited the girls varsity team to lead the entire school out of the Meetinghouse on the Green and back to campus at the conclusion of School Meeting.
The race itself was a huge production co-hosted by The Gunnery and Millbrook, with 24 girls teams and 22 boys teams participating, and as many as seven runners per school for each team. Becker expressed gratitude for the many Gunnery volunteers, both students and adults, who contributed to the success of the daylong event.
Margot Appleton '21 of Portsmouth Abbey School was the top finisher in the girls varsity race with a time of 16:36. Enock Musyoka '21 of Lawrence Academy took first place in the boys varsity race with a time of 15:34. Sam Jones '23 of Pingree School took first in the girls JV race with a time of 21:29. Jack Keller '20 of Concord Academy placed first in the boys JV race with a time of 17:52.
The Gunnery boys varsity team, represented by Harry Harwood '20, John Blair '21, Buckley Huffstetler '20, Will Brodhead '20, Josh Novick '21, Robin Wright '22 and Sean Hall '22, came in 14th overall out of 22 schools.
Maks Watton '22 finished in the top 20 in the boys JV race, placing 16th with a time of 19:22. The boys JV team, also represented by Paul Clement '22, Noah Ram '23, Tim Yu '22 and Patrick Boucher '23, came in 10th out of 14 teams overall.