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Fairfield Prep Cross Country Ready For Season

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield Prep’s cross country team has established itself as one of the best programs in the state.  This year’s squad has a hard assignment, though, in replacing last year’s State Open champions.

“I’m sure they feel pressure, but we’d never say you have to replace the guys from last year,’’ coach Bob Ford said. “They’re not the guys from last year. They’re a different group, they have a different chemistry. But they have high expectations. I’m sure they feel like there’s pressure on them.”

Fairfield Prep won its first invitational of the season on Saturday, capturing the large school division of the Wilton Invitational. Prep finished with 31 points, well ahead of Greenwich (73) and Trumbull (78).

Prep comes into the season ranked fourth in the preseason poll on, but that is based largely on reputation and last year’s performance.

“It’s very hard to replace the guys that we had last year,’’ Ford said. “But we have some younger guys that have moved up and that’s really nice.”

Prep has a bona fide ace in junior Christian Alvarado, a junior who won Saturday’s race in 15:56. He won by 13 seconds over Darien sophomore Alex Ostberg and was never seriously challenged. Alvarado finished eighth in the state last year.

Four of the next five runners for Prep were underclassmen. Senior Scott Ball finished 13th overall, while Prep’s other scorers were sophomore Andy Thane (seventh), junior Alec Hilton (11th) and junior Matt Scholl (30th). James Mulliken will be another key runner for Prep this fall.

“Matt had a yeoman’s effort,’’ Ford said. “He has worked and worked and it’s paying off. I said to Matt if he was any bigger, I’d try to pile guys on his shoulders to carry them, because that’s what he did (at Wilton).”

It’s still too early to tell how the season will shake out. Prep will be a strong team, and Alvarado will be among the top runners in the state. Last year was terrific for Prep, but Ford and his team have turned the page.

“Nobody’s whining ‘We can’t replace the guys from last year,’’’ Ford said. “They’re just trying to figure out how to do it.”

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