The Trumbull girls' cross country team captured fifth at the New England Interscholastic Championships this past Saturday at Wickham Park in Manchester.

It was the third straight year Trumbull competed at the New England Championships. Champlain Valley (Vermont) won the title, finishing first (142) out of 30 teams. Hall of West Hartford (173) was the runner-up, followed by Concord (N.H., 219), East Greenwich (R.I., 237) and Trumbull (245).

Coach Jim McCaffrey’s Eagles finished ahead of Simsbury (273), who had placed one spot better than Trumbull at the State Open. The fifth-place finish was also their best in school history. Last year, Trumbull finished seventh at the New England race held in Manchester, N.H.

“To finish fifth at New England is a big deal,” McCaffrey said. “There are 435 teams in the New England Region. We are in the top one percent. We also improved our state rank to second, out-performing pre-season polls that didn’t have us ranked as high. In addition, we finished as the top-ranked team in the FCIAC.”

Running on the legendary Wickham Park course for the third straight week, Trumbull placed four runners in the top 100, which featured 263 runners from five states on a sunny, but seasonable day.

“There are pros and cons to running at Wickham three weeks in a row,” said McCaffrey, whose squad was third a week earlier in the State Open race. “Our girls were mentally prepared to put their past performances behind them. As I said to them, ‘Make your past performances a preamble to your best times today.’ That was our theme for this race.”

Alessandra Zaffina added another honor to her already-impressive senior season, earning All-New England honors with a 19th-place finish (19:02) on a 6:09 pace for the 5,000-meter course.

Already a three-time All-FCIAC and All-State honoree, Zaffina’s scholastic cross-country resume added All New England recognition, one year after finishing 26th and missing the honor by one place.

“Ally continues to impress me,” McCaffrey said. “She is a great leader for this team because she is unshakeable. Last year, we drove home five hours from New Hampshire, and she had to accept that she missed being All-New England by one place. This chip on her shoulder would have put fear in many competitors, but not her. She ran this race for her team, and we had the best finish in school history.”

Classmate Emily Alexandru ran a solid race, finishing 66th with a time of 19:56 - a season-best for her.

Sophomores Kali Holden and Evelyn Marchand each earned top 100 finishes. Holden was 93rd (20:21) followed closely by Marchand, who was 98th (20:25). Senior Rebecca Margolnick was 135th with a time of 20:48.

Senior Megan Becker and junior Keira Grant contributed to the Eagles’ all-around impressive day. Becker finished 145th (20:51), while Grant was 164th with a time of 21:13.

For Trumbull, the 2019 season was filled with many accolades at the league, state and regional levels, but it was one that McCaffrey saw a special group of runners that kept getting better.

“As a coach, you need to pick the race you want your athletes to peak at,” McCaffrey said. “We held them back a lot this year early on. From the beginning of championship season, I talked about how New England’s this year wasn’t going to be a victory lap for us. We wanted to thrive there. The girls bought in and we went in wanting to win.”