Arends pg 10 10-11-18

Set to Pass
The Woodstock Academy’s Linsey Arends (4182) and Stella DiPippo get set to pass Suffield’s Gabby Zeller Oct. 6 at the Wickham Park Cross-Country Invitational in Manchester. Photo by Marc Allard.

Woodstock Academy girls’ cross-country coach Joe Banas made the tour of Wickham Park Oct. 6, watching his two young runners, freshman Linsey Arends and sophomore Stella DiPippo compete in the Wickham Park Invitational in Manchester.
He didn’t have to go far to see one without seeing the other.
“I was catching them at various points and they were never more than four or five seconds apart from each other,” Banas said. “They always had contact. Stella could always see Linsey.”
The freshman made a nice late surge up the hill toward the finish line to cross first in 14th the girls’ seeded varsity race in 20 minutes, 54 seconds.
Six runners later, in 20th, came DiPippo just 13 seconds behind her teammate.
It was the first duel this season, but certainly not the last the two will have at Wickham Park which also happens to be the site of the state championship races on Oct. 27.
For Arends, it wasn’t the first time she ran the Wickham Park course.
Arends ran the course last year as an eighth grader, but it was only a 3K version of the course.
The course she ran Oct. 6 was almost twice that, at the 5K high school length.
Banas said, even though there is only a 2K difference, it feels more like double what it is in middle school since it also adds another hill.
Arends was doing her best just to stay on the right course.
“Since it was shorter, I was a little discombobulated because we didn’t go the same way as we did in middle school,” Arends said.
Fortunately, unlike the Haddad Windham Invitational to start the season, Arends went the right way and didn’t make any wrong turns.
“I’m pretty happy with my time. I set one course record this year (at Rocky Neck State Park) and it was the same time-ish that I ran (Saturday). Hopefully, I can slowly improve,” Arends said.
She won’t be alone in that quest.
DiPippo and Arends both said they used each other to gauge how they were doing Oct. 6.
“I didn’t know what the game plan was,” Arends said. “I used Stella to help pace me. We ran most of the way (together) and, at the end; I just tried to push it as fast as I could.”
DiPippo used a similar strategy and it worked for her as she bettered her time from last year’s Invitational when she finished 48th by 58 seconds and was 30 seconds better than she was when she placed 25th in the Class L state championship meet.
“I was really happy with my time,” DiPippo said. “I was using Linsey to pace me the whole race as I have been through most of the season. I gave her a thumbs up kind of midway through. It’s nice to have a true friend out there with you while you are racing. It makes running less painful.”
The two youngsters also had to contend with another Wickham delight- mud.
The wet summer and early fall meant the footing wasn’t always the best.
“It was pretty tough,” DiPippo said. “You definitely had to pay attention and go certain ways where it was less muddy. It was definitely good to race with a lot of people, on this course, because you get a feel for how fast you have to start and how tight the race is at the beginning.”
Banas, meanwhile, was busy crunching numbers after the race.
He was comparing how his two runner’s times matched up to others they will face come the next big meet, the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship at the Norwich Golf Course on Oct. 18.
He liked what he saw.
Defending ECC champ, senior Mady Whittaker of Montville, ran in the unseeded varsity race Oct. 6 and finished in 21:02, eight seconds behind Arends and just five seconds better than DiPippo.
“They’re in the ballpark,” Banas said. “It’s a great 1-2 punch, the best 1-2 punch in the ECC. If there is a better one, I don’t know of it. If Stella was on any other team, outside of Montville, she would be the No. 1. She loves her role. They seem to work well together in training and they race well together.”
The team finished 16th as it was missing a key piece, senior Shannon D’Alessandro did not compete.
“We weren’t at full throttle because some of the girls had prior commitments that I knew about in advance. I told them ‘fine’ and gave them a speed workout to replace this,” Banas said.
Iris Bazinet was third for the Centaurs in 93rd with Megan Gohn (114th) and Aria Gianfriddo (142nd) rounding out the top five.
Earlier in the week, Arends finished first, DiPippo second and D’Alessandro fourth for the Centaurs (7-1, 1-1 ECC Div. I) who downed Fitch, 20-35, and beat Wheeler and Tourtellotte by identical 15-50 scores.
Bazinet added a fifth-place finish for the Centaurs.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy

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