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The Foran High boys cross country team finished the regular season with a deceptive 7-5 record, and then the Lions placed ninth in the Southern Connecticut Conference meet held at Madison’s Hammonasset State Park and followed that up with a seventh-place showing in the Class MM meet.

Junior Jack Ardey ran a 17:17 at the SCCs and covered the always-difficult and demanding Class MM course at Manchester’s Wickham Park in 17:45 to earn a trip to the State Open.

Misfortune at the Open, where a runner went down and a large pile-up of participants ensued, cost Ardey at least 10-15 seconds where he needed to navigate around the obstruction. He finished 116th in a field of close to 200 runners.

Ardey is part of a five-runner contingent, all juniors, who have led head coach Dick Jeynes’ Lions. The other four are Mark Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, Kevin Preneta and Ethan Jorgensen.

“We do have three seniors on our team, Nick Dana, Matt Flores and Aaron Hostetler, and they run hard,” Jeynes said. “But our nucleus is built around juniors and sophomore. I’ve always liked coaching the sport because it requires hard work and dedication. You can’t hide if you’re a cross-country runner.”

Jeynes has 50 years of coaching experience, primarily in baseball where he served as head coach at Milford before a 12-year stint with the Yale University varsity and a season at the University of Bridgeport. He just concluded his 11th season at Foran.

“I’m an old-school coach,” he said. “However, the times have changed. I really think that my experience has paid off. I talk to these kids and they listen.”

Over the past three seasons, the Lions have had respective sixth-, fifth- and seventh-place finishes in the state meet.

Jeynes feels that coming from the SCC makes a huge difference.

“I believe that it’s the strongest cross-country conference in the state,” he said. “We’re competing against so many Class LL schools – Amity Regional, Guilford, Hand, Xavier, Hamden, Fairfield Prep – whose programs have 50 or more runners. We’re doing this with 15.”

Jeynes lost Griffin early to a sickness and felt, if he had him in the lineup at the time, Foran could’ve posted a 9-3 record.

This season came on the heels of one where Jeynes had three premier runners – all seniors – in Tyler Porcello (who’s attending North Carolina-Charlotte), Kevin Mastriano (Central Connecticut State University) and Kevin Aiken.

“This was a new team and they did extremely well,” he said.

Highlights included a team win in the Platt Tech Invitational and a strong showing at the Winding Trails Invitational, where Ardey broke the 17-minute mark when he was clocked in 16:48.