Gabriel Wigutow of St. Anthony's wins the 2.5-mile boys varsity run...

Gabriel Wigutow of St. Anthony's wins the 2.5-mile boys varsity run at the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA cross county championships at Sunken Meadow State Park on Sunday. Credit: Neil Miller

Gabe Wigutow was watching these races last year, not winning them.

Wigutow, one of the top runners on St. Anthony’s boys cross country team this fall, dealt with a nagging IT band injury last season.

On Sunday, the Friars senior won the 2.5-mile boys NSCHSAA League Championship at Sunken Meadow State Park in 12:57.2.

“I’ve been having to adapt and learn how to run in these high-level races this year,” Wigutow said. “That’s definitely been a challenge, but I’ve been trying to step up for the team.”

Wigutow wasn’t in the Friars’ Top 7 that reached the Nike Cross Nationals meet last year. He made the JV 'A' team at the end of last fall.

But he’s been the top guy for St. Anthony’s this season. Aside from a dual meet at Sunken Meadow earlier this year, Wigutow said he hadn’t run the course since last season.

He said Sunday’s sub-13-minute race was a personal best by around 50 seconds.

“He’s made for it. He has no fear. He doesn’t care who anyone is, he goes after them,” St. Anthony’s coach Tim Dearie said. “He doesn’t care how many hills there are or anything he just trusts that he’ll figure out how to deal with it.”

St. Anthony’s placed the top five finishers in Sunday’s championship race and claimed the NSCHSAA league title with 15 points. Dearie said it’s the first time a team has placed the top five finishers since the Friars did it in 2014.

Collin McLaughlin finished second in 13:10, Jack Morelli finished third in 13:21.6, Liam Curley finished fourth in 13:33.5 and James Ciaccio finished fifth in 13:37.3.

“The top three of us, we were trying to compete against each other to see who’d win,” McLaughlin said. “And we were really hoping that the back end of the team could make a big step today, and they did. That’s very reassuring for us.”

The Friars have won the last three NSCHSAA League Championships, now looking ahead to their biggest meets of the season.

“We needed guys to go from being JV guys to being pretty good varsity guys, and today they stepped into that realm,” Dearie said of Curley and Ciaccio. “That was huge for us."

“We know we have a lot of history to live up to,” Wigutow added. “So, just living up to our history, what we’ve done in recent years and trying to go and win a state championship this year and surpass that.”

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