Boys cross country: Barlow is fifth in conference

Mike Bortolot, right, was first for the Joel Barlow High boys cross country team and third overall at the South-West Conference boys cross country championships on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Barlow was fifth of 13 teams with 143 points.—Rocco Paul Valluzzo photo

Mike Bortolot, right, was first for the Joel Barlow High boys cross country team and third overall at the South-West Conference boys cross country championships on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Barlow was fifth of 13 teams with 143 points.—Rocco Paul Valluzzo photo

What the Joel Barlow High boys cross country team had worked on during the past few weeks paid off to some extent at the South-West Conference championships.

The Falcons, who went 8-5 in regular-season meets, managed to decrease gaps in between a few of their runners leading up to the race. Such was good enough to get them fifth out of 12 teams with 143 points at Bethel High on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

New Milford on its 12th league title in 14 seasons with 56. Pomperaug was runner-up with 86 and Brookfield was third with 91.

“I told them whatever happens here happens,” said interim coach Dan Spinner, who stepped in when longtime coach Jerry Bielizna had surgery last month. “If we do well as a team as we should, we should be able to move up a little bit further than just showing up as a seventh or eighth place team.”

Two fast individual times also helped the Falcons. Leading the way, Mike Bortolot finished third overall in 16:41.82 behind winner Tom Consalvo of Brookfield and New Fairfield’s Mike Rautter.

Bortolot was leading the pack until the top of a hill known as “The Beast” when several runners passed him on the way down. He managed to pass New Milford’s Lucas Simmonds after that.

“I just tried to sprint out the last 600 yards and came in third,” said Bortolot, one of two Barlow runners to make the All-SWC team. “I wanted to come in top five.”

Also making the All-SWC team was Ben Ruffing. A time of 17”02.27 got him seventh.

“I think I did a good job staying with the pack as they picked up speed and I had a strong finish,” he said. “Overall, I was really happy. “I just wanted to stick with the guys I thought I could compete with and I did that today.”

Next for Barlow came Max Triano. Taking 31st, he ran an 18:12.41.

Breaking the 19-minute, mark, Harrison Houser was 44th in 18:58.51. Completing the scoring for the team, Jon Lam was 58th in 19:46.01.

“Max has been coming up and our gap between four and five has definitely closed over the last three weeks,” said Spinner. “They’re getting faster.”

Also in the race, Jack Koubeck was 73rd in 20:44.03. Two places later was Zach Boland in 20:48.40.

Barlow next competes in the state Class MM race on Oct. 31 at Wickham Park in Manchester.

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