by Special Correspondent John Altavilla
Like he does every year, Hillhouse track and field coach Gary Moore offers his athletes a basic message. Compete your best. Strive to be your best. Understand if that’s what happens, the best is bound to transpire.
Such was the case again Saturday at the CIAC Class M Indoor Track and Field Championship at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
Blessed with two of the best programs in the state, Moore sent his Academics out with a mission and his memo. And so, it should have been no surprise what that led to.
Relying on multiple winners churning out top performances, including a Class M state record in the boys 4x400m relay, Hillhouse defended its pair of state championships.
The boys scored a 31-point win (87-56) over Suffield and the girls, tied at 66 with Weston at the time, nosed out the Trojans (76-74) by taking first in the 4x400m relay finale.
“Yes. This was the ultimate goal,” said Moore. “And for me, I don’t feel good knowing one team won and the other didn’t. I would feel right if they both hadn’t won. The kids have been working hard. They understand what they have to do.
“The girls made it a little tougher than it should have been. We actually came in not really worried about the girls winning. It was more about the boys.”
The girls ran into some difficulties. Sophomore shot put star Leah Moore, the defending Class M champion, came in with an injured wrist and finished fourth behind winner Natalie Rolon-Issa (39”5.25”) of Bacon Academy. Nyimah Ambrose was fifth in the long jump to champion Olivia Johnson of St. Joseph’s (17’3.75”). And its 4x800m relay team did not compete.
But Jada Boyd defended her titles in the 600m run (1:36.98) and 300m dash (41:44) and Ayesha Nelson was a three-time winner in the 55m hurdles (8:48), the 55m dash (7:31) and as part of their 1600m Sprint Medley relay team that included Leandra Allen Miller, De’Janay Davis and Ambrose.
“Ayesha and Jada put it down,” said Moore. “We’ve been talking to them about they want to leave, what’s your legacy going to be. And I believe they were really motivated to do their best. All we ask from them is to do what you are capable of doing. If they do, then we’ll be fine.”
Boyd is a three-time defending Class M 600m champion.
“My game plan was to get out early and finish strong,” said Boyd. “I can’t say I was feeling any pressure. The competition I felt was to beat myself and PR, which I did. It just feels great to be able to win another state championship in my senior year.”
Nelson said she expected to compete well Saturday from the time she got up in the morning.
“It’s very exciting,” said Nelson. “I even PR’d on the hurdles. It’s all about having a positive attitude. If you do, you can accomplish anything you want. I just think about the team. You can’t think about yourself. I’s all about the team. You are not running for yourself. You are running for everyone else.”
On the boys side, the rout was fashioned with magnificent personal performances by Neal Eley, who won three events – the long jump (22’3.75”), high jump (6’0”) and 55m dash (6.53) – and the powerful Deshaune Poole, who took the 300m dash (35.35), 55m hurdles (7.74) and ran the anchor leg of their 4x400 relay team (Class M state-record 3.28:20) that included Talib McBride, Dale Thompson and Ralphael Hawkins.
The championship was highlighted by two additional Class M Meet record performances.
The Suffield boys exploded in the 4x800m relay in 8.05.73 to break the Class M record set by Ledyard 1996 (8.17.86). Second-place Tolland (8.16:22) also finished ahead of the previous mark.
Suffield Boys 4x800m relay team are all smiles after victory - Photo by John Altavilla, (c) MySportsResults.com
Suffield team consisted of seniors Cam Miller and Kyle Englander and juniors Jared Sharp and Nick Sinofsky.
“We once ran an 8:07 outdoors but we haven’t run together as a group since then, but we knew we had it in us,” said Englander. “It’s a been a very good year for us. We finished sixth in the New Englands in cross-country and second in our class in the State Open. And we just won our conference meet, as well. We’ve been talking all week about how we felt capable of getting the state record. We wanted to put down a good time and get a good seed for the Open. That was the goal.”
Sinofsky later won the 1600m run (PR 4.29:49) and Sharp took the 600m run (PR 1:24.73).
“We thought we’d have a chance to run for a state (class) record. We all felt great. We’ve all been healthy. We train hard and we stretch hard. We do a lot of the little things that insure we can run these fast times late in the season. I’d like to say we can go in there (the State Open) next week and win. We have a great team. We broke away today (in the 4x800) on the second leg so. I’m just looking forward to a fast time.”
Berlin’s Patricia Mroczkowski, the defending Indoor State Open champion, defended her Class M title in the High Jump with a Class M meet record leap of 5’6.25”. She broke the previous mark of 5’6” set in 2000 by Woodstock’s Janel Kozolowski.
“My goal was just to perform as well as I could,” said Mroczkowski. “I was trying to jump 5'8", as well. (she won the Outdoor State Open last year at 5’8”). I was upset I couldn’t clear it. But that was but OK. Maybe on another day I will. I am really confident heading to next week. I cleared 5’6” really easily after my coaches encouraged me that I could. I don’t want to sound too cocky, but I feel like I might be able to win (the State Open). I have done 5’8” in practice.”
Patricia Mroczkowski waiting for next attempt in High Jump - Photo by John Altavilla, (c) MySportsResults.com
Ellington senior Sydney Schultz bested a strong field to defend her Class M title in the 1000m run in 3:02.83.
“I’m a little tired. I’ve been pretty nervous,” she said. “I thought I could win and I followed a good plan. Honestly, it went very well and I am happy with it. This is a great way to end my senior season. I am way more confident now.”
Sydney Schultz celebrates with Ellington coaches after defending 1000m title - Photo by John Altavilla, (c) MySportsResults.com
Stonington’s Rhys Hammond, who ran a 1:53.96 to finish sixth in the 800m run at last year’s Outdoor State Open and currently has the second-best time in Connecticut in the 1000m run (2:31.85), won the event with a PR of 2:31.80. And with state leader Mike Browning of RHAM competed in Class L, Stonington’s Greyson DelGrosso won the Shot Put with a toss of 48’4”, besting Hillhouse freshman Gary Moore, Jr. (PR 48’3.50”).
Lewis Mills’ Aidan O’Connor won the boys Pole Vault with a height of 14’0” that tied his personal best.
More top performers in the girl’s championship included junior Kathryn Rodrigues of Wolcott, fulfilled favored expectations to win the 1600m run (5:12.75) and the 3200m run in 11:24.60.
Weston’s runner-up team finish featured victories by Elise Russell, who tied her personal best of 11’0” in the Pole Vault, their 4x200m relay in 1:47.84 (Russell, Lauren Bigelow, Nicole Sztachelski, Hannah Greene) and their 4x800m relay in 9:55.41 (Mie Axelson, Natalie Haythorn, Kathleen Saussy, Michelle Gutowski).
Rankings and personal records noted above are based on performance lists compiled at Athletic.net.
The complete meet results are available for the CIAC Class M Indoor Track and Field Championship on the Results page sponsored by soundRUNNER Scholastic with stores in Branford, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Old Saybrook. The meet was held at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven CT on Saturday February 9, 2019.
NOTE: MySportsResults.com publishes the results received/posted from meet directors and timing companies. If you don't see your results or if you think that the results are incorrect then ask your local coach to contact the meet director to send us the corrected meet results. Do not send an email to MySportsResults asking to correct the posted results.