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Tuesday, October 22 News

Lawrence leads Wreckers to cross country triple crown

As strong as the Staples running program, team titles have been hard to come by for the Wreckers since the dominating stretch the group had from 1987-1990. At year 49 of his Hall of Fame career, Laddie Lawrence has certainly seen it all. The peaks, the valleys and everything between.

But winning never gets old.

Lawrence oversaw a dominant season that could only be described as perfection. Staples went 15-0 during the regular season, and swept the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open titles. Star senior Zak Ahmad won each race, too.

It was the third time in program history that the Wreckers won all three of the big meets in the fall season. Lawrence now has 11 FCIAC titles, five class championships and five State Opens in the cross country portion of his massive trophy case at Staples High.

“It’s great for the kids, it’s kind of exciting,” Lawrence said. “If you had told me last year going into the summertime that this was going to happen, I would never have thought it. I’m very pleased.”

The Wreckers completed the third leg of the triple crown on Friday at Wickham Park in Manchester with the State Open championship. Ahmad crossed the line in 15:46 to take top spot and completed the memorable season.

What’s even more staggering is how significant the margin of victory was in each triumph. Staples beat Danbury for each title — 27-61 at FCIACs, 46-83 at Class LL and 61-77 at the State Open. The State Open total was the second lowest for a winner since 2007.

As has been the case all season, Ahmad wasn’t the only Wreckers runner near the front of the pack. Sunil Green (12th), Ben Seiple (14th) and Will Landowne (21th) all notched top-21 finishes at the meet.

Staples faced adversity before the season began as senior captain Brandon Harrington — who projected to be in the top group — suffered an injury never competed for the Wreckers this fall. Up stepped junior Christian Myers, who placed fifth overall at FCIACs as the Wreckers had their top five runners finish in the top 11.

“We had four, but we didn’t know who our fifth was going to be,” Lawrence said. “He really developed really well. He put in the summer mileage and put in the work. He showed signs last year during the outdoor season of having a lot more potential than he had done in the past. It finally all came together.”

Not only did it come together for Myers, but it finally did for the Wreckers. Prior to this year, Danbury had won 21 of the previous 25 FCIAC champions and a host of state powers had knocked the Wreckers off the perch. Staples did claim its first State Open title since 1990 last season, too.

“High school sports are cyclical,” Lawrence said. “It always comes around at some point. I’ve seen the peaks and the valleys, and the peaks and the valleys again. Now we’re at a peak, and maybe before I’m done I’ll see another peak and valley, who knows.”

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The Wreckers will hope to cap the season with a strong effort at New Englands on Saturday with the indoor season to follow.

But as far as the hills and trails go, Staples is firmly back.

“I’m just really pleased for the kids,” Lawrence said. “I’ve noticed here in the last several years as we win things I can stand back and I don’t even need to get involved in the pictures. I can just stand back and be happy for them. It’s personal satificiation as a coach but I’m more excited for the kids because it’s their first.”

Ryan Lacey|Reporter

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