NORTH STONINGTON — Wheeler High’s Troy Stefanski and Kelly Melinosky earned first-team All-ECC Small Division honors for their cross country teams this fall.
Stefanski’s selection was only the second such shonorfor a Lions’ cross country runner in the last six years.
Asa Palmer earned the honor in 2011 and he was the first since 2007.
Stefanski, a senior, earned the award based on points accrued in meets against other ECC-Small teams and was one of seven runners in the division to garner the honor.
“He’s just a natural athlete,” Wheeler coach Marc Tardiff said. “He just kept getting better as the year went on.”
Stefanski, who ran consistently in the high 18 minute range as a junior, lowered his times to the mid-18 minute range and finished the year with a season-best time of 18 minutes, 9 seconds and placed 17th at the Class S meet.
“He’s consistent, he gets out early and gets ahead of the pack. He is able to take the lead. He was first or second in most of his races against ECC-Small schools and did well in the big races too,” Tardiff said.
Stefanski was seventh among ECC-Small runners (18:32) at the ECC meet.
The first-team recognition was the first such honor for Stefanski.
Max Reck, a junior, earned an ECC honorable mention for his first postseason honor.
Tardiff said Reck was similar to Stefanski in that he was a natural athlete who got stronger as the year progressed. Tardiff said he was impressed with the leadership Reck showed around the younger runners.
Reck placed 13th among Small Division runners at the ECC meet with a time of 19:39.
Billy Grigg was the Lions’ sportsmanship award winner as voted on by his coaches.
Wheeler’s top runner
Melinosky was one of seven ECC-Small runners to be named to the first-team. Selection to the team is a point system based on the performance at each meet involving another ECC-Small school.
As a sophomore she primarily posted times of 23 to 24 minutes in the 3.1-mile races and earned an ECC-Small honorable mention for her performance.
Melinosky was able to knock those times down to the mid 22s as a junior and ran a time of 21:59 seconds at the Class S meet at Wickham Park.
Wheeler coach Diane Kodama said that Melinoksy has more than enough stamina to run cross country, and that her improvement was simply a matter of speed.
“She probably could run forever if she wanted to,” Kodama said. “She wants to start running half marathons. We did a lot of speed work to help her get her times down.”
Kodama said confidence and health were issues for Melinosky in 2012.
“She didn’t have a lot of confidence last year and she twisted her ankle too. She overcame the injury and ran with a lot more confidence this year,” she said.
Melinosky finished sixth among ECC-Small runners at the ECC meet (22:20) and placed 29th at the Class S meet.
Junior Sarah Volack was voted as the sportsmanship winner for the Lions.