By Special Correspondent John Altavilla, Senior Correspondent Marty Ogden and Editor Ron Knapp
Of the eighteen events contested in the CIAC Outdoor Track and Field State Open Championship meet for boys and girls on Monday at Willow Brook Park in New Britain there were seven field and eleven on the track. The route to the winning the Boys team title for Bloomfield went through five field events where they scored 68 of their 108 total points to easily outdistance runner-up Hall with 43 points and third place Xavier with 30 points. The Bloomfield point total was the most scored by any team over the last 30-years. The Danbury girls’ path to their fourth Open title relied more on track events where they placed in eight of their eleven events to score 58 points to edge Windsor in second place with 43 points and third place Bloomfield with 38 points.
Looking Further Afield
Athletes come to track and field every season for a myriad of reasons. Maybe they just want to shake things up in their athletic life. Perhaps they sense something within themselves they feel is worth exploring. It’s what keeps the sport fresh, what infuses it with new blood and makes every day exciting.
Still, when Weston junior Kate Joyce started throwing the javelin and Bloomfield junior Michael Campbell the discus this season, the first thought each had was to just work through the process, be competitive and hope for the best.
On Monday at the State Open Championships, not only did Joyce and Campbell contend, they beat seemingly high odds for rookies by winning state championships.
After playing baseball. Joyce decided the time was right for her to look for another option.
“My options at the time were track and softball, but the people and coaches on the track team convinced me that it would be a wonderful environment to be in,” Joyce said. “And look what happened.”
Joyce came to the State Open after winning the Class M title and she uncorked a winning throw of 143-07 to finish the job. Her career best mark moved her up to a US #31 ranking this season.
“I always like to think that I am going to do well,” Joyce said. “The mindset that you are going to succeed helps me mentally.”
Kate Joyce takes aim at a winning throw (c) MySportsResults.com
For Campbell, the idea was to build upon his accomplishments with the shot put. Like Joyce, his initial desire to compete soon took on a new dimension once he began to taste some success. He won the Class S championship last week in the discus throw.
“I felt like this was going to be a great day. I was feeling a little tired today, I’m not going to lie about that. And my fatigue carried into the shot (where he finished seventh),” said Campbell, who won with a PR of 154-05.
“But then I had to re-evaluate what I wanted to accomplish. And I told myself that I needed to do well with the discus. I just said, ‘I’m going to PR.’ That’s the way I am all the time. If I don’t do well in one event, I know I have to be better in the other or it will a horrible day for me.
“Throwing the discus scared me originally. But I built it up with hours of training and grinding that got me to this point. Maybe the New England championship is next. Who knows?”
It was also a wonderful day in the field for many other competitors.
Cross senior Susie Okoli built upon her Class L championship to win the state title in the girls discus with her throw of 128-06. It concluded a remarkable high school career that saw her win indoor and outdoor state titles in both the shot and discus.
“I knew it was going to be a good day when I got up in the morning,” Okoli said. “I had a feeling. I’ve had many good practices lately. You just have to keep your mind right. You can’t think too much. When you do, at least for me, it doesn’t work out. You need to stay focused and the rest will follow. Everything was really good for me.”
For Bacon Academy junior Natalie Rolan-Issa, the Class M champion, winning the shot put title was a dream come true. She outlasted Southington junior Trinity Cardillo with her best second throw (41-04.25) after both had best marks of 41-05.
“All I could think about was that I’m going to win shot,” said Rolan-Issa, who was approached by a Brown coach immediately after the event. “It’s been my passion since I started throwing in the seventh grade. When I am in the shot area, I feel like I can be myself and just throw my best. I’ve been consistently in the 40s all season. My best throw was 44. To get a 41 today was very good. I’ve been very consistent. It’s a big sigh of relief for me. I’ve been waiting for this moment forever. I’m overwhelmed with excitement.”
The field day began with senior Aaron Williams winning the boys shot with his throw of 55-06.75, besting teammate Nick Campbell (55-03).
It was an enthusiastic, supportive group of competitors, one which included RHAM’s Mike Browning, the defending champion whose season was ended with a shoulder injury.
Williams admitted the absence of Browning created an opportunity for someone else to fill the void. And he obviously wanted to be the one to do it.
“This makes me feel very good. I’ve been through a lot of practices and a lot of bad meets where I haven’t been myself. So, to finally see some distances is really good,” Williams said. “I think the energy was just different today. Everyone came out here to compete. There was some great competition and it kind of elevated (performance).
“That we all root for each other makes it all the more fun. We all train together, we see each other all the time indoor and outdoor and we’ve all gotten very close over the last three years. We all try to do the best that we can.”
The 36 points by Williams and Campbell helped fuel the Bloomfield boys team championship as Williams also finished second to Campbell in the discus at 150-09.
Williams and Campbell celebrate Shot and Discus wins (c) MySportsResults.com
Perhaps the best performance among the field events was turned in by Sheehan junior Jordan Davis in the boy’s javelin. The Class M champion threw 203-01 which was 20-feet farther than runner-up Joseph Venable of Coginchaug, the Class S champion.
“I was very prepared today. I drank a lot of water, did my stretching. I felt it would be a good day,” Davis said. “The most important thing to be a great javelin thrower is just to stay healthy. You can’t accomplish much with hurt arms and legs. And I did. At the start of the season, my goal was to throw 200.”
Raising the Bar to New Heights
Aside from the excitement in the throwing events, the loudest roar from the crowd on Monday was after Chet Ellis of Staples cleared 7-feet and a half-inch in the High Jump to claim the best in Connecticut high school and meet history. The previous state best height of 7-0.25 was held by a trio of super-stars including Omari Braswell of HPHS and Shamont Hamer of Hillhouse (1994) and Safir Scott of Greenwich (2017). After dueling with another pre-meet favorite Justin Forde of Brien McMahon (6-08), Ellis cleared his first attempt for the win at 6-10 and then soared into the record book on his second attempt. His new found height ranks him #3 in the US this season.
Chet Ellis is all smiles under the new record height in High Jump (c) MySportsResults.com
Justin Forde scored his own victories as he won both the Long Jump with a leap of 23-05.75 and the Triple Jump with a mark of 50-02. Both victories came at the expense of Sean Dixon-Bodie of Bloomfield who placed second with marks of 22-05 and 48-03.50.
After claiming the Class S title last week with a personal record of 14-06, Hayden Rovelli explained how he was able to claim the Pole Vault title on Monday “At the beginning of the season, I was doing a lot of short approaches to try to work on my form. I wanted to slow things down from indoor. So, I was coming in from a four step a lot of meets and I ended up jumping within a foot of my PR which was pretty cool for me. Now I'm going for my 100 percent effort.” His goal for this weekend at the New England Championship meet is “To just jump 15 at New Englands would be really awesome. It’s been like a milestone I've been trying to get for a while.” Hayden will be attending Southern Connecticut State University in the fall.
Meliee Kry of Danbury had a banner day in helping fuel her team’s championship title with a victory in the Triple Jump with a personal record mark of 38-03.25. She also finished fourth in the Long Jump (18-02.75) behind the winning leap of 18-09 from Tess Stapleton of Fairfield Ludlowe.
Meliee Kry soars to victory in Triple Jump (c) MySportsResults.com
Tracking Down Victories
The meet started with a loud bang as the top four Boys 4x800m relay teams blasted the existing meet record of 7:51.30 by the 2012 Simsbury team led by Wilbur Cross (7:47.20), Hall (7:48.17), Suffield (7:49.44) and Ridgefield (7:51.04). Both Tolland and Staples had to run under 8:00 as the 2 final teams to make it to the New England meet. Wilbur Cross is now ranked #20 in the US and moved up to 5th all-time in Connecticut.
New Meet Record 4x800m team: (l-r) Elliot Faulkner, Travis Martin, Musa Hussein, Nas Betancourt (c) MySportsResults.com
The Girls 4x800m was no less exciting with several lead change until Ridgefield won in 9:16.90 over early leader Simsbury in 9:19.90. The four remaining top 6 teams finished under 9:37.
Although the 4x100m relays were over in a flash, the Greenwich and Windsor boys duel down the stretch ended with Greenwich over the line first, 42.40 to 42.46 for Windsor. The Windsor girls team left no doubt as to who would win by the second hand-off as they won going away in 47.74 over runner-up Amity in 49.91.
Fans were treated to one of the gutsiest tactics as Trey Cormier sped to a fifty plus meter lead in the first 600 meters of the 1600m run to win in a wire to wire effort of 4:14.24. The top six finishers were all 4:20 or better as Robbie Cozean of Xavier finished second in 4:17.41.
Fans didn’t need to wait long as they were treated to another great race in the Girls 1600m as the top 4 finishers were under 5:01 led by Angela Saidman of Immaculate in 4:57.16 followed by Kate Hedlund of Manchester in 4:58.70 for PRs and the CT #1 and #2 times this season.
Spectators were treated to a meet record performance in the finals of the Boys 110m hurdles as Edward Williams Jr. of Sacred Heart blazed to a 14.03 time to erase the former mark of 14.15 set by Tony Ortiz of Crosby in 1995.
Edward Williams Jr on way to record victory in 110m hurdles (c) MySportsResults.com
The fickle and sometimes gusty winds that swept through the stadium ruined a spectacular effort by Tess Stapleton of Fairfield Ludlowe in the Girls 100m hurdle finals as she won in a speedy 14.10, well under the existing meet and State record of 14.16 but aided by a 2.8m/s tailwind. Rules for national, state and meet records indicate that an athlete cannot be aided by a tailwind exceeding 2-meters per second.
Tess Stapleton breezes to win in 100m hurdles (c) MySportsResults.com
Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell took home the gold medal in the Girls 100m Dash over runner-up Cori Richardson by a wind-aided 11.67 to 11.92 margin that ranks Mitchell in the US top 50. A false start was charged to Terry Miller of Bloomfield. Greenwich’s Ryan Raybuck closed in the final meters to win in 10.77 over second place Christopher Pigatt of Hamden in 10.86.
Chelsea Mitchell dashes to 100m title (c) MySportsResults.com
The Boys 400m dash was an upperclassmen test between Ja’kwan Hale of Derby, William Remkiewicz of Glastonbury and defending champion Kymali Hay of Bloomfield as they finished 48.52, 48.86 and 49.24 respectively. Hale, attending Highland JC in Kansas, was the State Open champion last year in the 300m hurdles but switched to flat races because “we don't have a track, we practice on concrete, so it wouldn't be good on the legs.”
The Girls 400m dash was a showcase for the youngest talent on the track as freshman Alanna Smith of Danbury bested senior Jillian Mars of Bloomfield 55.71 to 56.73. Smith is the US #16 ranked freshman this season.
The Boys 300m hurdles saw senior Deshaune Poole of Hillhouse surge over the final last meters to win in 38.75 over runner-up junior Enrique Lopez Garcia of Windham in 39.54.
Ridgefield’s Emma Langis won the Girls 300m hurdles with a strong finish in 44.65 over frosh Mariella Schweitzer of Joel Barlow in 45.02.
With only a few feet separating the top three finishers for much of the Boys 800m run, the finish had to be closely analyzed as Pierre Sylvain of Xavier won in 1:54.62 edging Stephen Sutton of Tolland (1:54.67) and Rhys Hammond of Stonington (1:54.69).
Sylvain of Xavier edges Sutton and Hammond for 800m win (c) MySportsResults.com
Junior Grace Hanratty of Old Saybrook took the lead with a second lap surge to win in her PR and state leading time of 2:12.33 as Taylor Mascetta of Immaculate sped up over the final meters to run her PR of 2:14.01.
Grace Hanratty earns new PR in 800m victory (c) MySportsResults.com
Freshman Malcom Beckford of Bloomfield provided fireworks in the Boys 200m dash as he dipped under 22-seconds to win in 21.72 scantly ahead of Christopher Pigatt of Hamden in 22.02. Both times were aided with a 3.1 tailwind.
The duel between Windsor speedster Cori Richardson and Terry Miller of Bloomfield resulted in close second place by Richardson in 24.75 to a winning time of 24.33 for Miller.
The Boys 3200m run that started as a four person race with early leaders frosh Gavin Sherry of Conard (9:20.07) and senior Trey Cormier of Hall (9:18.00) ended as a 2-man race between Robbie Cozean of Xavier and Aidan Puffer of Manchester with senior Cozean winning in 9:10.97 to 9:13.02 for frosh Puffer.
The Girls 3200m run was an almost all sophomore finish as 4 of the top 6 places were recorded by the underclass athletes as all finished under10:55. Kate Wiser of Pomperaug and Mari Noble of Greenwich dueled alone for much of the race as the second pack of Rhiannon Richmond (Avon), Daniella Grullon-Pena (Danbury), Chloe Scrimgeour (Conard) and Caroline Webb (Greenwich) traded places for the coveted 4 spots for New Englands. The victory by Wiser in 10:28.91 over Noble (10:34.08) and the next 3 times established the fastest times in the state this season as well as PRs for Richmond (10:51.75), Grullon-Pena (10:52.03) and Scrimgeour (10:53.66).
With an hour delay prior to the 4x400m races due to a medical emergency, the boys’ and girls’ quarter-milers were well rested and ready to go in the final event of the meet.
The Bloomfield Boys and Girls team took home the final gold medals of the day in stunning fashion as the boys clocked their best time of the season in 3:21.75 to win over Ridgefield in 3:22.26. The Bloomfield girls provided an equal effort with their season best time to 3:57.97 to secure the win over Windsor in 4:00.47.
Rankings and personal records noted above are based on performance lists compiled at Athletic.net.
View more of the free photos of many events from the CIAC State Open Outdoor Track and Field Championship meets taken by Ron Knapp and Marty Ogden. Click to view the MSR SmugMug gallery at CIAC State Open Outdoor Track & Field Championship.
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The complete meet results are available for the CIAC State Open 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 was held at the Willow Brook Park in New Britain CT on Monday, June 3, 2019.
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