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2nd Connecticut Distance Festival Features Top Field for Thursday Night

Created at 4/17/2019 5:25 PM  by Ron Knapp 
Last modified at 4/17/2019 7:38 PM  by Ron Knapp 

MSR  Special Preview by Senior Correspondent Marty Ogden

The Connecticut Distance Festival, the first big meet of the season is scheduled for Thursday at Xavier High School. Meet Director Chris Stonier has assembled a field of many of the top runners in the northeast to compete in a meet limited to the 1-mile and 5000m runs. The meet starts at 5:00 pm with a boys and girls 1-mile followed by heats of the boys and girls 5000m run. 

Boys 1-mile

The boys’ mile will feature the best of New England versus the best of New York highlighted by the top two seeds, twin brothers Matt and Alex Rizzo of Bronxville, NY. The brothers teamed to win the 1600m sprint medley relay and finished third in the distance medley relay at the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet in March. Matt also has a 4:09.12 1-mile to his credit from his winning performance at the Milrose Games and was the New York State meet 1000m champion in 2:24.06. Alex was right behind his brother at Milrose finishing 6th in 4:12.89 and won the New York State meet 1600m in 4:13.21. Both will continue their careers next year with Matt heading to Stanford in the fall and Alex reporting to the US Naval Academy.

Lasalle’s Joseph dosReis was the New England champion in the 1-mile this winter running a personal record of 4:14.27. He was also the Rhode Island cross country champion this past fall and has committed to Davidson College in North Carolina.

Massachusetts is also sending one of their best. Rishabh Prakash of Burlington had one of the best-combined 1-mile and 2-mile times in the nation this winter with a 4:14 mile and 9:09 two-mile.  The Cornell-committed athlete was also 10th in the 5000m at NBNI running a 15:12.

Connecticut will be represented by New England 1000m champion Miller Anderson of Hall who also ran a 1:51.54 in the 800m this winter at the Boston University Last Chance Meet.  While Anderson is mostly known for his 800m and 1000m talents, he also has a 4:17 mile to his credit.  He will be attending Villanova next year.

Miller Anderson

Miller Anderson at the 2019 New England Championship (Ron Knapp,

Boys 5000m

The 5000m will feature three of the top six from the highly competitive State Open 3200m race. Xavier’s Robbie Cozean won in a state leading time of 9:18. He also ran a 14:53 5000m on the track last year as a sophomore at the Battle Roads TC Twilight Meet in June. The time ranks as the 6th fastest time in Connecticut history.


Robbie Cozean and Trey Cormier at the 2019 New England Championship (Ron Knapp,

Trey Cormier finished “only” 6th at the indoor State Open, but that was after doubling back from a hard paced 1600m effort. The New England cross country champion finished his indoor season with the 11th fastest 3000m time in the country with an 8:33 at the Boston University Last Chance win and another New England title in the 2-mile race. On top of that, he teamed up with Anderson, Joseph Morin and Muhammad Ali to earn 5th place All-American honors in the distance medley relay at NBNI. The Dartmouth-bound athlete has proven he is still in top shape after setting the Connecticut record in the 3000m steeplechase last Friday at the Michael Hartfield JV Jamboree with a time of 9:23.79.

Refusing to take a back seat to his elders, freshman Aidan Puffer of Manchester High School was in the lead pack for the entire race in the State Open 3200m, finishing 4th in 9:22.63. His time was the 2nd best freshman time in the nation this winter. The 9th grader has had a great deal of success in middle school running the 12 and 13 year-old world records over 5000m on the roads.

Moving up in distance to the 5k is the State Open 1600m champion Travis Martin of Wilbur Cross and East Lyme’s Samuel Whittaker who was third. Both had outstanding indoor season with Martin sweeping the SCC, Class L and Open championships and Whittaker running a 4:18 to place fifth at the NBNI Emerging Elite 1-mile.

Girls 1-Mile

The girl’s 1-mile brings plenty of in state talent together to push each other to fast times.  Wolcott’s Kathryn Rodrigues was 4th in the State Open cross-country championship and took the runner-up spot in the State Open Indoor 1600m with a time of 5:07. She returned a week later to earn All New England honors in the 1-mile finishing sixth in 5:03.88.

Kathryn Rodrigues

Kathryn Rodrigues of Wolcott at the 2019 New England Championship (Ron Knapp,

Immaculate’s Taylor Mascetta has been an iron woman for the Mustangs highly competitive distance program. She was a member of Immaculate’s State Open and New England championship 4x800m relay teams and doubled back to still run an outstanding 1600m race with little rest between. The future Fordham Ram took 6th in the State Open 1600m and has a personal record of 5:08 in the 1-mile.

Taylor Mascetta

Taylor Mascetta of Immaculate at the 2019 New England Championship (Ron Knapp,

Speaking of iron women, Glastonbury’s Grace Sparrow contributed three performances to her team’s runner up finishes at the Class LL and State Open championships. She ran both 4x400m and 4x800m relays and also added points in the 1000m at both meets. At the New England championships, the senior took 4th in 2:56.71 in the 1000m.

Kate Hudlund of Manchester was 5th in a highly competitive 1600m last spring running 5:02 and followed it up with a 3rd place finish at the New England Championships. The junior also finished a place behind Sparrow in the 1000m at New England Indoor Championship running 2:57.80.

Kate Hedlund

Kate Hedlund of Manchester at the 2019 State Open Championship (Ron Knapp,

Girls 5000m

The girls 5000m race features senior Emily Sienna of Hale Ray facing Rhiannon Richmond of Avon. Sienna ran a PR of 11:09 winning the Class S 3200m race in February and qualified for NBNO last spring in the 5000m with a 18:03 at the Amity Midnight meet. Richmond took 5th in the 3200m this winter in the State Open in 11:14 and 11th at New England Championship running 11:13 for the slightly longer two-mile distance. Additional entries include New Hampshire All-State runner Arielle Zlotnick of Souhegan High School and the race has the possibility of three girls that should finish in the low 18:00s on Thursday.


For a complete listing of all the entrants visit

Rankings and personal records noted above are based on performance lists compiled at