Rubush, Lepore lead Trumbull to a third-place finish

Chris Lepore and Tyler Rubush race down the stretch at the FCIAC championships. — Dave Stewart photo
Chris Lepore and Tyler Rubush race down the stretch at the FCIAC championships. — Dave Stewart photo

The Trumbull High boys cross country team placed third overall in the FCIAC varsity race, just ahead of rivals Danbury and New Canaan, on the Waveny Park course on Wednesday.

"After we narrowly lost regular season meets to these two teams, we knew we would have our work cut out to try to challenge them at the league championships," said coach Jeff Klein.

“In the end it was as close as expected. We finished with 109 points, Danbury had 111 and New Canaan 118.”

This was the first time since the 1980s that Trumbull has finished ahead of Danbury at the FCIAC meet.

Staples took first overall as they narrowly defeated Warde for the team title.

"Seven of our eight runners in the varsity race were running in their first ever championship meet and we were excited to see how they would respond to the challenge,” Klein said. "They did a fantastic job as they rose to the occasion with many personal best (PB) times.

“Our top runner was our only returnee from 2016, Tyler Rubush. Tyler was solid throughout the race, entering the final sprint to the finish next to teammate Chris Lepore in 15th place. He ran a spectacular final 200 meters, passing seven runners to take eighth place overall.

“Given the close team scores, that dash to the finish made all the difference as he passed two Danbury runners along the way in addition to reducing our total score by eight points.

“Chris Lepore continued his terrific initial cross country season, as he ran his best 5K by over 30 seconds to place 16th overall in 16:31.

“Running his first season for us, Armando Ulaj also had his best race as he was 19th overall in 16:47. Armando entered the season with a best 5K cross country time of 18:04, so this was a remarkable improvement for the senior transfer.

“Going into the race, James Dubreil had never broken 18 minutes for a 5K race. Based on recent workouts it was clear he was primed for a big improvement and that he did. James nabbed 30th place overall with a huge personal best time of 17:13. His time was 1 minute and 44 seconds faster than he ran in this meet last year.

"Before the meet we spoke about the need to close the gap with our top three runners and James did a great job to do just that.

“Tejas Kulkarni rounded out the scoring for the team, as he had a PB to place 38th in the meet. Tejas passed Owen Hopwood (39th) in the final straightaway as both finished in 17:28.

"Owen continued his excellent season as he improved an impressive 1 minute and 54 seconds over his time on the Waveny course from 2016.

"Owen and Joe were our sixth and seventh runners and by placing ahead of New Canaan's fifth runner added points to their total team score.

“Freshman Joe Gregory also had a great race as he had a PB of 17:42 to place 43rd. 

“Our final runner in the varsity race was Matthew Collins, who placed 65th with a time of 18:19, also a substantial improvement over his 2016 time.

“For their efforts Tyler earned first-team All-FCIAC while Chris, Armando and James were second team All-FCIAC.

"Tyler's time of 16:23 matched the second fastest time ever for a Trumbull runner on the course, while Chris now has the fourth fastest ever and Armando the sixth fastest ever.

“The overall team time was the fastest a Trumbull team has ever run, as the top five averaged 16:52 ahead of the 16:59 time the team averaged in last year's meet.”

The Eagles also notched some strong results in the JV race.

“Sophomores Nick Klaiber and Kyle Marin led the way as Nick outkicked Kyle at the finish to place 20th overall with a PB time of 18:09,” Klein said. “Kyle was 22nd in 18:12 (PB), followed by Tim Seymour in 25th (PB).

“Also placing in the top 50 in the largest boys race of the day (276 runners) were David Castaldo (29th), Kai Wismar (31st with a PB), Chris Alegi (32nd), Jackie Zhang (34th with a PB), Brian Hance (37th), Jackson Vicente (43rd with a PB), John Dima (45th) and Matthew Seuch (50th).

“Our freshman also competed and were led by Jared Cappello, who finished in 34th with a time of 9:12 on the 2.5K course.

"Alex Tinker and Alex Coley also had good times as they were 52nd and 55th in the race. A total of 159 runners competed in the freshman race.

"It was a great day for the team and we are really proud of so many outstanding efforts.”

Next up for the Eagles is the State LL meet at Wickham Park in Manchester on Oct. 28.