Mission accomplished for New Milford cross country standout Eli Nahom.
After capturing his third straight Class L title a week earlier, the senior went out and ran his way to one of the few titles that has eluded him during his stellar career, a State Open title.
Nahom won his first State Open title last Thursday at Wickham Park, finishing with a time of 15 minutes 54 seconds. He was the only runner in the field to break 16 minutes and he finally broke through at the Open.
Nahom’s time was a second faster than what he ran to win his third Class L title this season. He finished fifth at the Open last year and made his move toward the Open title with a move up Wickham’s green monster, going against his pre-race plan.
“I wasn’t planning on making my move on the hill because they know that’s my thing, I’ve done it a couple of times already,” Nahom said. “I was planning on going later in the race but I saw they started to fall back when I picked up the pace.”
After his spurt to pull ahead Nahom emerged from the woods with a comfortable lead. He finished 10 seconds ahead of Conard freshman Gavin Sherry (16:04).
“I was obviously really nervous,” Nahom said. “This race meant a lot to me and I wanted to do really well. Knowing it was Gavin; I know how hard he can finish at the end so I didn’t calm down until the finish.”
Nahom’s time also established a new school record on the course, besting the one he set just a week earlier.
“Eli was close with the pack until the Green Monster, just before the 2-mile mark. Very few runners can recover as quickly as he does after a tough hill and that’s where he can put it away,” New Milford coach Chris Bacich said. “It was an extremely talented field, especially in that top 10 or so. I've seen some tremendous performances by NMHS runners over the years, but Eli has set a new standard.”
Now established as the best cross country runner in the state, Nahom can turn his sights toward showing how he stacks up against the best in the region. Nahom will run in the New England Championship meet in Manchester, New Hampshire at Deeryfield Park on Saturday.
“He should be in the top pack again at Derryfield and, if he can get a good read of the hilly course, we like his chances,” Bacich said.