Al Dadario, the head coach of the Avon High School girls cross country team characterized this fall's team as "motivated and determined."
The Falcons lived up to those words, winning their third conference championship in a row on Wednesday and having yet another undefeated season. The NCCC championship was held in Windsor Locks.
Dadario, who was recognized as the CIAC Oustanding Girls Cross Country Coach of 2012 last season, said in September that "the team is very good" and expected the girls to be competitive in the high school running scene. This year, the program has drawn more runners than ever with 38 girls participating.
Katie McIntyre, one of the varsity runners, graduated last year, but all six others from the varsity squad returned to compete this season, according to Dadario.
And veteran runners Rachael Rosow, Maddi Mchugh, Sara Stokesbury, Hannah Fusaro, Ryley Higgins, Molly Hamel and Kristen Goldie have delivered.
Rosow, Stokesbury, Madi Zapatka, Julia deSimas and Fusaro were this year's co-captains.
"They have been a huge reason for our success during their time at AHS," Dadario said. "Maddi McHugh and Molly Hamel both juniors have also been a big part our our success."
McHugh, a junior, won the NCCC championship varsity race in 18:58, followed by junior Hamel in fourth (19:37) and senior Stokesbury in fifth (19:45). Rosow, a senior, took 16th (20:53), Goldie, a junior, came in 21st (21:03) and Higgins, a sophomore, was close behind her in 22nd (21:28).
McHugh won all of her conference races this season, Dadario said.
Newcomers to the team include Alex Benedict, Christina Martin and Risa Lewis.
Martin, a freshman, was Avon's fourth-fastest in the varsity race, finishing just ahead of Rosow in 20:42.
Fusaro, a senior, won the JV race in 21:22.24, and Benedict, a sophomore placed third in 22:11.65.
McHugh (19:45) also won the Wickham Park Invitational Columbus Day Weekend, which is regarded as one of the biggest, most competitive cross country meets in New England. Hamel placed sixth (20:19), Stokesbury finished in 11th (20:43), Martin came in 39th (21:50), Higgins was close behind in 41st (21:51), Fusaro crossed the finish line in 50th (22:05) and Goldie was 59th (22:23). There were 151 runners competing in the race from all over New England.
The girls will have another go at the Wickham course in the state championship meet on Oct. 26 at 1:30 p.m. for a shot at a back-to-back Class MM title.
After that, the team is hoping to advance to the Nov. 1 state open and qualify for the New England championship again.
"I am looking forward to another successful season next year," Dadario said.
Editor's Note: This story was last updated, Thursday, Oct. 24 to add further information Dadario submitted about the season.
Have you taken photos of the team this season? Please upload them in a blog post or to our sports photo gallery! If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact me at Jessie.Sawyer@patch.com or Jaimie Cura, our blogging expert and community editor, at Jaimie.Cura@patch.com.