By Special Correspondent John Altavilla
It took two days, and for a while waded through the muck and mire of a torrential thunderstorm, but the CIAC Class LL Outdoor State Championship finally played through at Willow Brook Park in New Britain on Thursday.
And it will always be remembered as the day Danbury freshman Alanna Smith showed the world there was someone new on the track to deal with.
Smith led the Hatters to its third straight LL team championship and eighth all-time by winning the 100m (12.47), 200m (24.98) and 400m (55.56) in one of the most dominant individual performance in meet history. Smith was the state’s middle school champ in the 400m last year.
Alanna Smith led her 2 teammates across the line in 400m dash (c) MySportsResults.com
The Hatters finished with 154 points, 94 more than Greenwich (60). Norwich Free Academy was third (56).
Danbury barely finished second to Amity (49.73) in the 4x100m to pick up a key eight points. And when Danbury sophomore Tianna Rogers upset Southington’s Trinity Cardillo in the shot put with her throw of 39-01, the state title was all but clinched. The Hatters also closed the 2-day affair with a win in the 4x400m relay (3:59.40) edging Ridgefield (4:00.19).
Glastonbury won the boys championship with 75.50 points, ahead of Norwich Free Academy (73) and Manchester (67). They won the title with a final 8 points by finishing second to Ridgefield in the Thursday’s final event, the 4x400m relay. NFA finished fourth and earned only five points.
Glastonbury’s lone event champion was in the 400m dash where William Remkiewicz won in 48.77.
The event began Wednesday and about halfway through the skies opened. The competitors on the track were able to complete two finals during storm, the 100m/110m hurdles and 100m dash before officials called a halt. After about a 30-minute delay, the remainder of the competition was moved to Thursday afternoon.
The 1600m run featured a pair of strong performances. Senior Travis Martin of Cross won the boys event (4:20.85) by besting Danbury’s Malcolm Going (4:23.34).
“When it’s raining is when I have the most fun,” said Martin. Led by Travis Martin’s final leg, the Cross boys, also featuring Nassaiah Betancourt, Elliott Faulkner and Mohammed Hussain, won the 4x800m relay in 7:53.71.
Travis Martin anchored win by Wilbur Cross in Boys 4x800m relay (c) MySportsResults.com
“I’ve actually been doing a lot of training for heat and there I am in the infield before the race just shivering. So, I was a little nervous about that. But I feel good now.
“The traction wasn’t a problem. As long as you have your spikes here, you’ll be fine, unless it’s absolutely torrential. I actually had a warmup for this last week at our sectional meet when we were caught up in a thunderstorm, sheets of water. I just had a lot of fun running it.”
Martin also finished third in one of the event’s most compelling races – the 3200m. Two of the country’s premier freshmen, Aidan Puffer of Manchester and Gavin Sherry of Conard, squared off with Puffer (9:10.13) taking the title by a full four seconds over Sherry (9:14.17). Martin finished in 9:19.92.
Aidan Puffer of Manchester won 3200m over Gavin Sherry of Conard (c) MySportsResults.com
Greenwich sophomore Mari Noble, the state’s Open indoor 3200m champion, recently ran a 10:40.75 for a 3200m race in a dual meet and won the FCIAC 1600m race. Quickly proving herself to one the state’s premier distance runners, she easily won the girls 1600m (4:59.25) by beating Manchester’s Kate Hedlund (5:04.25).
“A lot of our home meets this season have been in the rain,” said Noble. “Going into this I knew there was a chance it might pour. But I told myself that I’d make the best of it and treat it like any other race and have fun because honestly I love the rain.”
Noble came back on Thursday to also win the 3200m in 10:42.58 as teammate Caroline Webb placed second in 10:54.15.
Mari Noble of Greenwich led wire-to-wire for 3200m victory (c) MySportsResults.com
Ludlowe sophomore Tess Stapleton excelled in the 100m hurdles (15.35), although the conditions prevented her from running the kind of race she is accustomed to.
“Going into the race I was super nervous because this was the place I fell last year (at the class championship) under normal conditions. And I was even in Lane 4 again where it happened,” said Stapleton. “And then it started raining and I was freaking out a little bit. But it was super slow. It was very slippery. It was hard to pace myself.
“In hurdles If you move too slowly you mess up your steps between them. I was doing just enough to win because I realized I was not going to PR. I was just feeling things out, which is something I don’t usually do. I just go all out. Crossing the finish line was a really big moment for me in lane 4 and winning the state championship because that was all I wanted last year.”
Tess Stapleton of Fairfield Ludlowe led all challengers in Girls 100m Hurdles (c) MySportsResults.com
Stapleton finished second to Norwich Free Academy’s Allyson Lewis in the long jump. Lewis jumped 18-10.25. Stapleton came in at 18-00.25. At the ECC championships last week, Lewis, a senior, turned in the state’s best jump (19-1.5), which is ranked ninth all-time in Connecticut history.
Lewis also won the high jump with her leap of 5-06.
Stapleton was third in the triple jump. Danbury’s Meilee Kry won the event (38-01) and NFA’s Paige Martin was second (35-06). Martin won the pole vault (12-0).
As always, the Wednesday started with the 4x800m and Trumbull’s girls (9:24.19) held off Ridgefield for the victory. The team was comprised of Kali Holden, Margaret LoSchiavo, Alessandra Zaffina and Emily Alexandru.
“We came into the race with a good mentality. We knew we were in the running, we were together and we ran a smart race,” said LoSchiavo, who mentioned it was the first time this combination had run together. “We realized we needed to stay with Ridgefield, work off them and it would come down to whomever had the more guts at the end.”
Ridgefield’s Emma Langis set a meet record in the 300m (44.12), besting the mark held by Glastonbury’s Danielle Brinckman (44.34) set in 2017.
While Smith was dominating the girl’s events, New Britain’s Chaz Williams and Hamden’s Christopher Pigatt were excelling as well.
Williams won the 110m hurdles (14.91) and 300m hurdles (39.03), besting NFA’s Osarentia Osagie in both events. Pigatt took his specialty, the 100m (10.87), and won the 200m dash in 22.12 over a fast-closing Brenden Hill of Conard in 22.37.
Christopher Pigatt of Hamden sped to his second win in the 200m dash (c) MySportsResults.com
Fairfield Prep’s Azaan Dawson won the 800m (1:57.22) and Greenwich took the 4x100 (42.45).
Along with Rogers’ upset of Cardillo in the girls shot, there was another standout effort by an underdog. Junior Matthew Sante of Enfield cleared 6-06 to beat both McMahon’s Justin Forde (6-04) and Staples’ Chet Ellis (6-04) in the high jump.
Ellis, generally acknowledged as the state’s best in the event, has been hobbled all season by an injury.
“I’ve suffered with patella tendonitis this season. It’s not too serious, certainly nothing that will be prevalent in my collegiate career. But right now I am easing up on it,” said Ellis, who earned All-American honors last spring and this winter. “I last jumped at the FCIAC championship won at 6-10. It was good to get back to my regular form. But I was in a lot of pain. I took some Tylenol before the meet. Once I’m healthy, 6-10 will be a low bar mark for me.”
Forde, who is headed to the University of Miami, recovered to dominate in his other two events. He won the long jump (23-06.5) and crushed the triple jump at a distance of 50-1.25, breaking the Class LL record set by Hartford Public’s Omari Braswell (49-05) 25-years ago. Santy of Enfield placed second in both events.
“I’m very happy with my season and with two more meets left I am trying to capitalize on it,” said Forde. “The triple jump is my favorite. It’s just something I fell in love with and could do all day. It’s used to be the high jump, but then I lost it [the feeling].
“The important thing for me is my positive mindset. I don’t let people get to me. The way I look at it is, if I want to be the best the only one who can stop me is myself. So, I need to work hard, think positive and just go out there and do it.
Forde is ranked in the U.S. top 15 in the high and long jumps, but he truly excels in the triple jump. He was the New Balance Nationals Indoor champion this winter and his 51-9.75 from the Penn Relays is currently ranked second in the country this season.
“The triple jump is my main thing,” Forde said. “Right now, I’m trying to get my mark up to the top where I’d been for like six months.”
Manchester’s Nathan Quaye won the discus with his PR throw (156-07) that was 16 feet better than the second-place finisher. Quaye also finished second in the shot put to NFA’s Cameron Belton (53-07) who set his personal record.
Manchester’s Gabe Fountain won the javelin (164-11) and Southington’s Casey Selinske won the pole vault (13-00).
In other girls’ events, Trumbull’s Hailey Angelucci, the FCIAC champ, (128-09) won the javelin. Cardillo came back from her defeat in the shot to run away with the discus title (118-04). Her throw was almost 16-feet farther than anyone else’s. “Honestly, it’s been everything I’ve hoped for this season and I am excited to see how I can push it. My goal was 42 for outdoor and I threw 43 so I’m anxious to see how much farther I can throw.
“I like both events equally, but I find that shot comes more easily to me. The discus requires more work, it’s extra challenging for me. It helps that the spin is in both events, so working on that over the summer and during the indoor season I’ve been able to implement that this spring with the discus. The discus requires more upper body strength and right now I am not lacking in that department.”
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 LL Outdoor Track and Field Championship Meet on the Results page sponsored by soundRUNNER Scholastic with stores in Branford, Fairfield, Glastonbury and Old Saybrook. The meet held at Willow Brook Park in New Britain CT was started on May 29 and completed on May 30, 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.