Caesar Rodney turned in two dominant performances to win both the boys and girls competitions in the Henlopen Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday at Killens Pond State Park.
The Riders won the girls event with 47 points, besting second place Milford by 30 points, and they won the boys event with 37 points, winning by 18 points over second place Sussex Tech.
“We have not done that in a long time, winning both the boys and girls meet,” Caesar Rodney coach Mike Tucci said. “We are really happy with it.”
In the girls race, the Riders were led by the winning performance of Rebekah Mills, who finished the course in 19:18.84, beating Milford’s Alexis Groce to the line by 29 seconds.
Mills plans to use her performance in the conference meet to build momentum heading into the state championship meet next Saturday at Brandywine Creek State Park and gauge how she compares with other runners.
“It feels great to win the conference title. It’s going to [make] me a lot more confident heading into the state meet,” Mills said. “It’s the last race before the states, so you get to see what everyone is doing down here before you run up there.”
In addition to Mills’ victory, the Riders got strong times from Amanda Seiwell, Marcianna Green, Gina Campagini and Nicole Skocik, who finished together in 10th through 13th place.
The boys had an equally strong performance as Caesar Rodney had four of its top five runners finish in the top 10, led by the second-place effort of P.J. Gallucci.
“They’re going to be thrilled. In the past, we’ve a difficult time winning this meet because we’ve always looked at head to states,” Tucci said. “We got them in the right frame of mind … for a change. We’re thrilled about winning it.”
Other strong performances from Caesar Rodney came from Sam Phillips in fourth, Bryce Stevenosky in eighth and Sam Hastings in 10th.
They all finished behind Milford’s Henry Phalen, who took individual honors and finished in a time of 16:42.01 to beat Gallucci by three seconds.
“It’s awesome to win it. It’s a great feeling. I’ve been working hard for four years, and it’s finally great to win it,” said Phalen, who took his first conference title. “I was nervous and excited going in because it was my last conference meet.”