Newington’s Katherine Bohlke wins State Open cross country title

MANCHESTER – The State Open girls cross country championship looked a lot like the CCC championship race.

Newington, Conard, Manchester and Glastonbury were all in the lead pack as the runners went around the 5,000-meter course at Wickham Park Monday.

Newington senior Katherine Bohlke may have been the runner-up at the CCCs but she won the big one Monday, the State Open title, in 18 minutes, 16 seconds. Brooke Strauss, a junior from Glastonbury, finished second Monday in 18:36 (she was third at CCCs) and Tess Sherry, a junior at Conard who won the CCC title, finished third Monday in 18:40, just ahead of her twin sister Liv (18:45).

“It felt like the same race, to be honest,” said Strauss, last year’s State Open champion.

Greenwich won the girls team title with 95 points, Cheshire was second (166) and last year’s Open champion Glastonbury was third (170).

Bohlke finished and was surrounded by classmates wearing shirts that read on the front: “Katie Bohlke Fan Club.”

“This was a complete surprise,” said Bohlke, who will run at Virginia Tech next year. “I wasn’t expecting this. I’m super grateful.”

Bohlke won the Class L title Oct. 28 on a very warm day that saw numerous runners go to the hospital. Monday was much cooler and overcast.

“It was definitely a good day, the weather was beautiful,” said Bohlke, who finished fourth last year. “This is my last Wickham so I was just trying to leave my mark.

“I was just trying to stay with the front group. I felt good when you go into the woods for the last time so I decided I would see what I could do from there.”

Strauss and Bohlke were able to pull away from the Sherry twins after the big hill then Bohlke kept pulling away.

“It wasn’t completely 100 percent the race you dream about, but it was a pretty solid race,” said Strauss, who finished second at the Class LL championships last Tuesday. “I’m happy, I tried to show a little bit more patience than I did at LLs.

“It’s fun to have a lot of people to race against.”

The Sherrys were pleased with their first cross country season after swimming the last two fall seasons.

“It’s always fun to race against such fast girls,” Tess said. “It was a good race, a little slower than my CCC time.”

Liv ran a personal best.

“I was very happy,” she said. “This is the best I’ve felt.”

Stephen Hergenrother of Ridgefield defended his State Open title, winning in 15:32, while Newtown’s Soheib Dissa was second (15:37) and Hall senior Isaac Mahler third (15:46). The Ridgefield boys won the team title (60), Danbury was second (74) and Xavier third (140).

“It was a little muddy but not as bad as LLs; it was a pretty fast day,” said Mahler, who finished second last year. “They both ran amazing. It was a great day and great competition.”