By Special Correspondent John Altavilla
Before any athlete can achieve, they must believe. Belief is key that helps turn potential into performance, that transforms expectation into reality.
Windham junior Enrique Lopez Garcia is one of the state’s most talented hurdlers. No one has ever disputed that. But even he knew it would be virtually impossible for him to generate the times he sought without first convincing himself to invest the time and energy to make it happen.
“I really didn’t think I would be where I am today. I think I didn’t feel I’d be willing to push myself as hard as I have this season. I wanted it. And I’ve gotten it,” he said Saturday.
At the 88th Greater Hartford Invitational at East Harford High School on Saturday, Garcia proved he’s one who should be feared in a few weeks the CIAC state tournaments begin.
He won the 110m hurdles (15.28) by a nose over Masuk senior Aidan McShane (15.29) and then powered his way past McShane again in the 300m hurdles (39.16).
“I feel really good about what I’ve accomplished,” Garcia said. “I want to thank my coaches and all the others who have been with me through this. If they hadn’t pushed me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s taken awhile. I’ve been hurdling for three years and I’m finally seeing the result. I’ve trusted the process. And the process has shown me what is possible.”
Enrique Lopez Garcia sped to win in 110m hurdles
Garcia and Greenwich sprinter Ryan Raybuck were the only boys to win two individual events on Saturday. Raybuck won the 100m (11.01) and 200m (22.23)
On a beautiful Saturday, optimal conditions for competition, there were a number of great performances.
Perhaps the best came in the girls long jump where Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell, Glastonbury’s Selina Soule and Hall’s Olivia Bowes put on an extraordinary display.
All three smashed the meet record set 24-years ago by Northwest Catholic’s Andrea Clark (17-08). Mitchell (18-07.5) won followed by Bowes (18-02.25) and Soule (17.10.0).
“I looked at this meet as a practice for states, so most of us participated in the events we’ll be doing there,” said Mitchell. “I obviously wanted to get good marks. I jumped 18-4 on Tuesday, so I wanted to jump at least 18-6 today and I did that with my new PR. As long as I do well in states, I’ll be happy, even if it means not besting my PR again.”
Chelsea Mitchell leaped to the Long Jump Meet record
Mitchell (12.16) also finished second to Bloomfield’s Terry Miller (12.03) in the 100m. Soule placed fourth (12.73). Miller, the state’s best sprinter, also broke her own meet record (24.58) in the 200 set last year when she ran for Bulkeley by running a 24.48 to again best Mitchell (24.88). Miller and Mitchell are only juniors.
Towards the end of the meet Berlin’s gifted high jumper, senior Patricia Mroczkowki shattered the meet record (5-04) with her winning jump (5-10) that also eclipsed the current State Record of 5-9.75 held by Margo Maytham and Ann Temple. NFA senior Allyson Lewis also cracked the meet record with her second-place leap (5-08).
Patricia Mroczkowki cleared 5-10 for Meet record
As usual, the 4x800 relay races were exciting events. Second seed Bristol Central won the boys race (8.04.18), pulling away from the third seed, East Lyme, at the end.
Junior Jose Ramirez ran the anchor leg on a team that also featured seniors Devin and Pacifico Flores and sophomore Austin Freve.
“The idea was for all of us to run sub-2 minute and qualify for nationals. We didn’t qualify, but the boys really did push it,” said Ramirez. “You can tell we wanted it and we competed well. We may not have gotten everything what we wanted, but we started to see something developing. You can tell we wanted it.
“Things have been mixed up a little bit this season, some minor setbacks and injuries. But we should be OK for states. We’re ready to bring it. Suffield is really good, and I respect them for what they do, but we should be up there. They are good, but so are we.”
Bristol Central’s winning 4x800m team
In the girl’s race, Trumbull junior Emily Alexandru held off Hall junior Jenna Zydanowicz over the last 100 meters to bring the Golden Eagles the win 9.33.72 to 9:36.38 for Hall in their first race as a unit. With Alexandru were junior Carolyn Cardella, senior Margaret LoSchiavo and freshman Kali Holden.
“We came here to give it our all. We wanted to get a good time today so we could get a higher seed for the states,” said Alexandru, who also won the 300m hurdles (45.81). “We’re hoping to go far this year. We’ve been doing pretty well, getting stronger and stronger and we just qualified for nationals. I could hear the footsteps (of Zydanowicz) and my teammates yelling that she was right behind me. So, I had to move. But I heard the screaming more than the footsteps.”
Trumbull’s girls 4x800m victorious relay team
Alexandru also finished fourth in the 800m, which was won in an exciting race by RHAM sophomore Edith Walker (2.20.38) who outlasted NFA sophomore Kayla Park (2:20.45).
The girls 100m hurdle final was won by Conard junior Isabel Glynn with a season best time of 16.22. Later in the meet she finished second in 46.61 to Alexandru in the 300m hurdles.
Meanwhile, Zydanowicz of Hall returned in the 3200m run with a blistering kick over the final 200m as she sped away from runner-up Rhiannon Richmond of Avon for a six-second victory 11:01.43 that set a new school record.
Bloomfield’s outstanding senior Jillian Mars won the 400m (57.55) and was a member of her school’s victorious 4x400. Mars, Shante Brown, Miller and Jahlia Banton recorded 4.01.04, 11 seconds better than second-place Berlin. They are favorites in the event at the State Open.
Another Trumbull athlete, senior Hailey Angelucci, dominated the competition in the javelin with her throw (112-03). That was almost nine feet longer than Canton’s Madeline Archangelo.
NFA’s junior Paige Martin won the triple jump (36-04.75), besting Bowes and Archangelo. Martin then scored another first place in the pole vault clearing 11-03 in the final event of the meet.
Bacon Academy junior Natalie Rolan-Issa came into the meet as the top-seed in both the shot put and the discus. But she had to settle for second place in both events.
“I didn’t want to be too worried about it, since it’s my first invitation of the season,” she said. “I wanted to be relaxed, which I’ve been able to do all season and hope for the best.”
Junior Trinity Cardillo of Southington clobbered a meet record in the shot-put set in 2010 by Cheshire’s Rachel Aliotta (42-01) by throwing 43-06 to win. Rolan-Issa’s throw was 41-04.
Hartford Public’s Wenesha Stewart, who was third in the shot put, ran away in the discus with her toss of 124-07. Rolan-Issa’s best effort was 119-0.
In boy’s competition, Bloomfield’s Kymali Hay, Jaylon Nealy, Shakur Hill and Malcolm Beckford won the 4x100 (42.50). Hay, Nealy and Beckford finished 2-3-4 in the 100m to Raybuck (11.01).
Tolland Alec Sauter won the 1600m run (4:27.0), Avon’s Anish Rajamanickan took the 400m (50.92), Tolland’s Stephen Sutton was victorious in the 800m (1:54.52) and Glastonbury’s Jacob Smith won the 3200m (9:37.63).
Glastonbury’s Samuel Wilcox, William Remkiewicz, Devin Wasilefsky and Andrew Rison won the 4x400 relay (3:26.54).
The shot put is now wide open for the state championship because RHAM senior Mike Browning, one of the nation’s best during his career, is out for the season with a torn labrum. He attended Saturday’s event on crutches. “I was injured in December and we were originally told it was a hip flexor,” said Browning. “So, we dealt with it for the indoor season, but it was really bothering me. So, I went for an MRI about three weeks they found a torn labrum. I was operated on about a week later. I threw on it the whole time.”
“My career was beyond my imagination. There were things I wasn’t able to do, as my season was cut short, but I did what I needed to do to get to the University Kentucky and that was the main goal. I wanted to be a Division I athlete in the SEC. Even though I’m not an All-American now, there’s still a chance to great things in college, I take what I’ve been given.”
Bloomfield’s Nicholas Campbell took advantage by turning in a solid performance to win the shot put (56-02.50). He also came in second to teammate Aaron Williams in the discus. Williams won easily with his toss (153.10).
“I threw a 56, which is a PR, so I am very happy, even though I was actually aiming bigger. I was hoping for a 57 or 58, because in Middletown last week I fouled at 57,” said Campbell. “It’s championship time right now. I have tunnel vision looking towards the states. Everyone is confident in their ability.”
St. Joseph’s Daniel Criscio won the javelin (165-07), NFA’s Osaretin Osagie took the long jump (21-03.25) and Fitch’s Ajia Brown was victorious in the triple jump (43-08.5).
Canton’s Peter Fuller won the high jump (6-04) and Aidan O’Connor of Lewis Brown won the pole vault (13-06).
The complete meet results are available for the Saturday events at the 88th Greater Hartford Invitational on the Results page sponsored by soundRUNNER Scholastic with stores in Branford, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Old Saybrook. The meet was held at East Hartford High School in East Hartford CT on Saturday May 11, 2019.
View the latest photo galleries of performers at the 88th Greater Hartford Invitational meet available from MySportsResults.com. The just opened galleries by Ron Knapp and Marty Ogden feature several hundred photos of many of the events contested on Saturday.
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