Stephen Garrett broke open a tight race with Tatnall teammate Jack Hagood to win the Division II cross country championship and set a Killens Pond record of 15:31.69.
Tatnall won its fifth straight Division II championship in historic fashion, placing all seven runners in the top 11. The Hornets have been first or second at the state meet in all of coach Patrick Castagno’s 12 seasons.
Garrett, second in this meet as a freshman and fourth last year, pulled away from Wilmington Friends’ Thomas Connelly after the first mile and shed Hagood, who led after 2 miles, in the final 800 meters.
Connelly finished second in 15:41, virtually tying Division I winner Pat Hally for the third fastest time in the course’s history, behind former record-holder Sam Parsons.
“They’re a great duo,” said Connelly, who much of a 40-yard deficit in the final mile. “I went into the race like Louisa Belk did for her race. My goal was to get out hard so the two of them can sit behind me and kick me at the end. But they wanted to go out fast too.”
“It’s taking a response to the race and the moves people make,” explained Garrett, who has thrived at Killens. “It’s a combination of hills and flats. It’s really an all-around course. You get benefits for all runners.”
The hardest part of the course, said Tatnall’s Patrick Lynch, who finished fourth, is “the back loop because there’s no audience. You fighting to not fall asleep. You just hear the trees and the footsteps. You fight to keep working and let it go.”
“My body just shut down on me,” said Hagood. Clocked at 9:45 after two miles, he refused to blame his fade on the flu that plagued him the last week of October.
Hagood is the defending state champion at 800 and 1,600 meters, Garrett in the 3,200. Joey Garret, his tenth-grade brother, finished fifth, backed by Henry Paul (ninth), Michael Flanagan (10th) and Howard Daniels (11th).
“We don’t want start out like we know we’re going to win. We just come in trying to win,” said Flanagan.
Other leaders included Alex McIlvaine (sixth) of third-place St. Andrew’s, Brandwine’s Eamon McCoy (seventh), Colton Takata (eighth) of runnerup Archmere, Brendan Harris (12th) of seventh-place Tower Hill, Trent Sewell (13th) of fourth-place Caravel and Reed Bidgood (15th) of fifth-place Delaware Military.