By Special Correspondent John Altavilla
Changing shoes as he seamlessly dashed from the shot circle to the javelin runway, adrenaline coursing through his veins, Derby senior Brian Jalowiec exuded the cool confidence that has characterized their track and field program for the last two seasons.
“I do that all the time,” said Jalowiec. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. We’re out here for a reason. If the motivation is there, it’s happening.”
Jalowiec’s senior class, perhaps the greatest in program history, ended its career 52-1 in outdoor meets, a run that included three Naugatuck Valley League and two CIAC Class S Outdoor Championships.
More importantly, the Red Raiders were able to end a 41-year drought by winning last year’s CIAC Class S title. And then on Thursday, with Jalowiec plowing the path by winning the shot put, discus throw and javelin throw, the Red Raiders scored 115 points to successfully defend it at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, nosing out Bloomfield with 104 points. It was Derby’s fourth CIAC Class S Boys Championship that include ones in 1974 and 1975 as well as last season.
Jalowiec, the defending State Open champion in the javelin, also won all three events in last year’s Class S event and was determined to prove it was no accident.
“I knew I was going to be pushed, especially by Bloomfield. So, I just went out there and tried my best,” said Jalowiec. “I guess my discus could have been better, [149-00] but this was the slipperiest circle that I had ever thrown in without a doubt. But if was fun, a lot of fun.”
Meanwhile, Jalowiec, wearing the tight wrap around his right elbow, won the shot with a throw of 50-04.50 while simultaneously taking the javelin at 182-07.
“Winning three was the goal,” said Jalowiec. “After winning three last year, I didn’t want to slip down. I just wanted to keep moving up.”
Derby’s coach, Nick Diluggo, offered high praise of Jalowiec.
“He’s a combination of being a good technician and also having the talent,” said Diluggo. “He was born a certain way, explosive, you can’t teach it. But the thing about him is he has always been such a good competitor. He goes out there and gets it and gets his teammates fired up. He’s an anchor on a team with a lot of top-level talent this season. He knows his place. When it comes to Brian and Tristan [Pruzinsky] they are going to hold things down. And he [Jalowiec] never disappoints.
“In looking back, and I could be wrong, I don’t know if anyone has ever, in consecutive years, tripled in the throws. And I’ve looked back very far. That’s a pretty big feat.”
What makes Derby’s accomplishment even more impressive is that the program does not have a legitimate track to train on.
“We have a cinder track, no long jump pit,” said Diluggo. “We train in the gym. We go to Seymour and do some throwing or jumping. But it hasn’t stopped them. I use it as motivation for the kids. It’s chip on their shoulder and they really love it.”
In addition to Jalowiec’s great day, Ken Little won the 1600m Run in 4:25.25 and the 800m Run in a Class S meet record 1:54.49, breaking the mark of 1:55.57 set by Morgan’s Brian Gendron in 2015.
Ja’Kwan Hale won the 300m hurdles in 39.09 and the high jump in 6-04 before capping off the meet winning the 4x400m relay with Little, Bevon McLean and Steven Stanley completing the event in 3:24.44.
At the same time, the Bloomfield girls, a certified state dynasty and its defending State Open champion, again took care of their business by defending their CIAC Class S Girls Championship title with a big win (110 points) ahead of Immaculate of Danbury (72) and Old Saybrook (58.5).
Ironically, last year’s Class S championship finished in the same exact order.
“We had a lot of injuries this season, a lot of getting healthy to do,” said Bloomfield coach Anne Burrows. “We down from past years on the track, we have a pretty young team, but strong again in the field. I felt confident if it [the field team] showed up we would do all right.”
This was the 11th straight Class S outdoor title for Bloomfield, its 12th overall. In its history, Bloomfield has won 27 outdoor championships, including eight Class M, two in MM and five State Open titles. Only the Hartford Public boys (30 titles) have won more outdoor championships in state history.
Burrows came into the event worried about both Immaculate of Danbury and Old Saybrook. And there was cause for concern.
Immaculate’s Angela Seidman won the 1600m Run in 5:09.99 and was second in the 3200m Run [11:09.39] to the winning time of 10:55.75 by Kylie Raymond of Somers. Emma Connolly took the 800m Run in 2:16.31. And Taylor Mascetta was second in the 1600m Run and her team won the 4x800m relay in 9:48.45 that included Dominque Valentine, Molly Coyle and Emma Connolly.
Old Saybrook’s Tyra Finkeldey won the pole vault at 11-06. The Rams were second in the 4x800m relay and Rachel Vigorita was second in the high jump.
Westbrook’s Danyelle Engels won the discus throw with a mark of 119-00 and the javelin throw with a toss of 107-06.
But Bloomfield’s field team provided big points. Monique Anderson won the high jump by clearing 5-02, Jahleah Harris took the long jump with a leap of 17-09.25 and Justyce Wilson won the shot put with a throw of 37-05.5. Alliyah Boothe, Kailyn Mobley and Wilson finished second thru fourth in the discus.
And Bloomfield’s star sprinter Jillian Mars spectacularly returned to action after missing most of the season with injury.
“Jill has been hurt most of the season,” said Burrows. “She has an inflamed tendon on her shinbone, like the most uncommon injury ever. We thought it was a stress fracture and then we ruled that out. But it turned to be almost as bad as a stress fracture, it kept her out just as long. But she’s strong. She’s a fighter. And she definitely had a nice, long rest.”
Mars, who ran in a couple of dual meets before returning for the CCC North Championship, won the 400mDash in 56.29, fast enough to break the Class S record of 56.47 set in 2012 by Bloomfield’s Rayanna Relerford. She was second in the 200m Dash in 25.97 and was part of the 4x400 team – Jahleah Harris, Jahlia Benton, Mars and Jayden Gibson – that won in 4:00.95.
“I keep my kids humble,” said Burrows about the great expectations on her program. “It could always been someone else’s day. I don’t ever walk into an event thinking it’s my day. We can lose and anytime, anything can happen. And you have to prepare for that, too.”
The Canton’s boys and girls teams include some strong individual performances as well. Max Sparks, after finishing third in the 1600m Run in 4:27.02, rebounded to win the 3200m Run in 9:42.39. And Canton sophomore Chelsea Mitchell, who barely lost both the 100m and 200m dashes in last season’s Class S meet, made up for it by sweeping the 100m in 12.61, the 200m in 25.53 and anchoring their 4x100 relay that won in 50.27 that included Brooke Shepard, Maya Sutton-Hall and Madeline Archangelo. Mitchell contributed 30 of her team’s 46 points.
The complete meet results are available for the CIAC Class S Outdoor Track & Field Championship on the Results page sponsored by soundRUNNER Team Nights with stores in Branford, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Old Saybrook. The meet was held at Veterans’ Park at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, CT on Thursday, May 31, 2018.