Cross country: SIS harriers complete perfect season

The Shelton Intermediate School boys cross country team, consisting of 30 seventh and eighth graders, posted a perfect season this year with a record of 10-0.

For the first time ever in school history, the boys middle school team also posted a top-5 finish in the middle school cross country state championships at Wickham Park on Nov. 1 in the heavy rain and wind.

The team competed against perennial powerhouses: Rochambeau, Timothy Edwards, Dag, Memorial, Tolland, Suffield and Illing, among others — winners of the last 10 state championships combined.

These schools are known for their cross country prowess.

The team was led by tri-captains Robert Dillon, Matt Richard and Mike Zannis.

In five dual or tri teams in the SCC this year, Richard and Dillon combined for five first-place wins.

“This is the best team I’ve coached in the history of the program,” SIS head coach Scott Gura. “The entire team of boys worked hard all season long. They all as a team pushed each other to the limits, many improving as the season went on.

“They knew that they had the capability of being a top five team in the state of Connecticut this year.”

Gura has coached the team since its inception at the middle school 12 years ago.

Dillon, the team’s most talented runner, set a 1.6-mile course record against Derby Middle School at the Ryan Field Complex earlier in October.

In the state championships, with over 50 teams participating, Dillon finished in ninth place overall, leading Shelton against 384 other runners. Shelton had all five placements inside the top 80 at Wickham.

Earlier in the season, at the Cheshire Invitational, at Cheshire Park, Shelton posted five medalists in the top 15 finishers in the Invitational. Along with the three captains, Evan VanHoose and Zack Muller also took home medals.

The five-runner group were the top finishers in the A race on Nov. 1 in the state championships.

“After the Cheshire Invitational, and the success that those five boys had, I knew we had something special in this team. I knew that we had a chance of accomplishing something great at the states,” Gura said.

Shelton also had seventh grader Matt Cristiano medal in the B race at the states.

“I’m very proud of these boys and I’ll never forget this season. A majority of them will go to High School and hopefully have outstanding careers as runners,” Gura said.