By Senior Correspondent Marty Ogden
Connecticut girls are preparing for the 74th New England Interscholastic Track and Field Championships at Thornton Academy, Maine on Saturday. The Nutmeg state will once again send a strong contingent to the regional championships and expectations will be high for athletes and fans alike. Mysportsresults.com will once again provide complete coverage of all the action at the New England meet beginning with our preview.
Girls 100 Meter Dash
When defending champion Terry Miller of Bloomfield false started in the finals of the 100m at the State Open, that cleared the way for Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell to run relaxed and finish in her lifetime best time of 11.67. While the tailwind was above the allowable limit and it won’t count as a record, it is still considered the fastest time ever run at the State Open. Cori Richardson had the same tailwind and ran her fastest time of 11.92 to earn the 2nd seed in the event at New Englands. They will be challenged by Mass state champion Caroline Schissel of Amesbury. Bridget Lalonde of RHAM was 6th last year in the 100m at New Englands and the senior is seeded 8th this year. Bronze medalist Alanna Smith of Danbury has not entered the 100m so she can be moved into the 4x400m and Andraya Yearwood of Cromwell is also not entered. That leaves Windsor’s Leah Gray and Newtown’s Carly Swierbut as the next Connecticut qualifiers and both are seeded in the top 11.
Girls 200 Meter Dash
Rhode Island state champion Marybeth Fitzsimmons of Moses Brown had a great race at her state meet where she ran a New England leading 24.05. She will face Terry Miller of Bloomfield who will be looking to defend her title. Windsor’s Cori Richardson has been a force all season and finished right ahead of freshman Smith of Danbury at the Open. Both are seeded in the top five and are expected to earn medals. Mitchell of Canton should have a busy day after the 100m and long jump. If she has enough left, she could take home a medal in the 200m. Nichele Smith of East Hartford has run the 9th fastest time in New England of 24.79 at the Manchester JI meet and could be a factor along with Lalonde of RHAM who is seeded 18th.
Girls 400 Meter Dash
Senior Grace Devanny of Concord, the New Hampshire state champion, will face Connecticut freshman Alanna Smith of Danbury who has been tearing up the track this entire spring. Both have run in the 55’s this season so this could be a fast race. Defending champion Jillian Mars has been running through injuries this season but she was still good enough to take 2nd at the Open and come into New Englands seeded 5th. Windsor junior Jalah Cooper has made her way into the fast heat and will be looking to earn a medal with a top six finish. Cara Jordan of Cromwell finished 5th at the Open in a PR time of 58.30 and Plainfield’s Kate Carleson is seeded 14th overall.
Girls 800 Meter Run
MASS state champ Makayla Paige of Tewksbury in not entered in the meet in order to prepare for Nationals. That makes MIAA runner-up Nicole Anderson of Billerica the favorite to win. But she will be challenged by New England 1000m champion this indoor season Grace Hanratty of Old Saybrook who also won the 800m at the Connecticut State Open. Immaculate’s Taylor Mascetta and Molly Coyle were integral parts of the Mustangs New England championship 4x800m this winter and are two of the top individual seeds at New Englands. If they have enough left after their relay, they might factor in the medal count. Zoe Harris has been an All-American for Greenwich in the 4x800m but she will be look for some individual glory on Saturday in the open 800m. Elsa Martin of Simsbury and Love Martin of Hamden are seeded in the top 13 so they could have an outside shot at scoring if things go their way.
Girls 1600 Meter Run
Sophomore Kaylie Armitage of Lasalle Academy, RI is the top seed in the 1600m and will face a stiff challenge from Mya Dubie of Kearsarge Regional, NH and All-Americans Grace Connolly of Natick High and Lucy Jenks of Newton South. All three have run in the low 4:50s. Connecticut’s Angela Saidman of Immaculate and Kate Hedlund of Manchester battled it out at the State Open to break 5 minutes and will be pushed to hopefully run faster times on Saturday. Hall junior Jenna Zydanowicz broke 5 minute and was All-New England her freshman year and is hoping to repeat those accomplishments on Saturday. She will be joined by last year’s New England 3200m champion Elizabeth Stockman of Rocky Hill who is looking to break five minutes after just missing that goal at the Open on Friday finishing in 5:00.97. All New England cross country runner Kathryn Rodriquez of Wolcott and freshman Ava Graham of Bethel round out Connecticut’s qualifiers.
Girls 3200 Meter Run
Last year Elizabeth Stockman took the 3200m out hard and ran the legs off State Open champion Kate Wiser of Pomperaug who ended up finishing 5th. Wiser is returning as the top seed after running a 10:28.91 at the Open, which is the 5th fastest time in Connecticut history. Lasalle’s Armitage is less than a second behind Wiser and is schedule to double. All-American Grace Connolly is also expected to double and should be in a solid lead pack with Falmouth’s Sofie Matson and Mari Noble of Greenwich who are all within five seconds of each other. Anything can and usually does happen so even though it looks like it will take a sub 10:40 to medal, Rhiannon Richmond of Avon, Daniella Grullon-Pena of Danbury and Chloe Scrimgeour of Conard will be looking to make their way into the top six if someone falls off the pace. Trumbull will be represented by Alessandra Zaffina who is seeded 13th.
Girls 100 Meter Hurdles
Tess Stapleton has absolutely dominated the hurdles this year by winning the New England title this winter in the 55m hurdles as well as the fastest time in the region this spring. Her time of 14.10 was wind-aided, but she has already run in the mid 14s several times this year. Another sophomore, Katharine Duren of Central Catholic, MA has also consistently run in the mid 14s as well so it should be quite a battle for New England supremacy. Raven Jarrett of New Britain has really come into her own this season and has consistently brought her times down each week all the way down to a sub 15-second clocking, good enough for a top five seed. Senior Patricia Jurkowski of Seymour has been one of Connecticut’s top hurdlers the past few years and has finally qualified for her first New England meet and is seeded 10th. The FCIAC has proven to be one tough conference for the hurdles as Kayla Clark of St. Joseph, Jaylyn Carter of Danbury and Nia Christie of St. Josephs are all seeded in the top 17 in New England which gives the league four of the top six CT qualifiers.
Girls 300 Meter Hurdles
Massachusetts is the only state in New England that runs the 400m hurdles so their athletes will relish the shorter distance. MacKenzie Condon comes in as the top seed based on a set conversion of subtracting 19 seconds from her 400m time. But Ridgefield’s Emma Langis might have more experience over the shorter distance after defending her State Open title in a time of 44.65. Surprise Joel Barlow freshman Mariella Schweitzer is less than a half second behind Langis and Emily Alexandru of Trumbull, the only person to defeat the Ridgefield junior this season, is seeded 5th. Jarrett of New Britain will double back from the 100m hurdles and Izabella Newbury of Plainfield will be hoping to improve upon her 45.11 time at the Class M championships. Jurkowski of Seymour will also compete in both hurdle races.
Girls 4x800 Meter Relay
Connecticut teams have four of the five fastest seeds in the 4x800m relay on Saturday. Ridgefield, which seems to always have a team entered in the event, arrives as the top seed with their 9:16.90 State Open victory. Simsbury is only three seconds behind the Tigers with New England Indoor champions Immaculate seeded 3rd. Trumbull missed All New England this winter with an 8th place finish at the regional meet but is seed 5th and will be looking to earn medals on Saturday. Southington and Hall are also in the top 11 and should be in the fast heat which could give them a chance to move up in the placing.
Girls 4x100 Meter Relay
Windsor is known for their sprinters and they come to New England once again with a chance to win the 4x100m after finishing 2nd last year. The Warriors will have to contend with Lowell, MA who is seeded about three-quarters of a second behind. Five Massachusetts teams are seeded in the top eight but the next five Connecticut teams- Amity, East Hartford, Greenwich, Danbury and RHAM will all be in the 2nd fastest heat.
Girls 4x400 Meter Relay
This relay should be a real battle. Shepherd Hill, MA and Bloomfield are seeded only a few tenths of a second apart and Natick and Brookline, MA have also broken 4 minutes. Windsor is the top Connecticut seed coming in with the sixth fastest time, but don’t overlook Danbury who comes into the meet with the 9th seed. The Hatters will put their State Open 400m champion, Alanna Smith, into the line-up which might give them a shot at the win. Unless there is a scratch among the top eight teams, the Hatters will be placed in the 2nd fastest heat which should put pressure on the other teams to run fast. East Hartford, Ridgefield and Weston are all seeded in the top 15 and will be looking to break four minutes.
Girls High Jump
Patricia Mroczkowski of Berlin has been making Nationals since her freshman year and recently set the Connecticut state record with her jump of 5’10” at the 88th Greater Hartford Invitational. But she had an off day at the State Open and finished 2nd to her longtime rival Allyson Lewis of Norwich Free Academy who cleared 5’8”. You would think these performances would make them the favorites, but they will have to face defending New England champion Nyagoa Bayak of Westbrook, ME who has also cleared 5’10” this season and Framingham’s Sophie Albright who cleared 5’8” finishing 2nd in the MIAA All State Championships. Sophomore Nia Christie of St. Josephs and Sydney Garrison of Southington and Allison Schneider could score if they get lucky since their qualifying height of 5’4” is ranked sixth. Open finisher Courtney Rowland of Nonnewaug has also qualified since Brien McMahon’s Savannah Bromley decided not to make the trip up to Maine.
Girls Pole Vault
The pole vault will be up in the air as several girls have cleared 11-feet this season. Paige Martin of NFA is the only one who has broken the 12-foot barrier, which she did winning the Class LL championships. Sarah Firth of Belmont High, MA set a PR of 11’6” winning the MASS All State Meet and Elise Russell of Weston, CT also cleared that height to win the Southwest Conference Championships. Coginchaug junior Carolyn Cumello set a personal record to take 3rd at the State Open and Paige Martin’s twin sister Madison has also qualified for his meet. Madison has cleared 11-feet at the Class LL championships. Completing the Connecticut pole vault team will be Cate Coppes of Old Saybrook and Kelsey DeJesus of Watertown.
Girls Long Jump
Marybeth Fitzsimmons of Moses Brown, RI had a huge PR of 19-1.25 to win the Rhode Island State Meet but she will have plenty of competition. Tess Stapleton of Fairfield Ludlow won the New England Indoor championship with a leap of 19’1.25” and won the State Open on Monday. Allyson Lewis of NFA soared to a PR of 19’1.5” at the ECC championships and could be a factor if is able to get close to that mark again. State Open 100m champion Chelsea Mitchell of Canton is hoping to use her speed to go for gold medal in two events. Danbury’s Meilee Kry was able to beat Stapleton at the FCIAC meet with her PR of 18’9.5”. Connecticut’s final two qualifiers Selina Soule of Glastonbury and Olivia Bowes of Hall have also cleared 18-ft which should get the Nutmeg state plenty of chances at the medal stand.
Girls Triple Jump
The seeds can be misleading in the girl’s triple jump. Four girls from other states have already reached 39 feet so anyone who can reach their PR might just take home the gold medal. Danbury’s Meilee Kry won the Open in her personal record of 38’3.25. Kayla Clark of St. Josephs and Aaliyah Walker of Innovation will be looking to break into the top 10 and Allison Schneider of Conard and Aliya Cameron are both seeded in the top 20.
Girls Discus Throw
There has been a great rivalry with Connecticut throwers this year and they have gone back and forth in the rankings all season. Susie Okoli of Wilbur Cross won the State Open in the discus with her personal record of 128-6 and comes in as the top seed. But Bloomfield’s Otisha has improved 40 feet since last year and finished 2nd at the State Open and is the number two seed on Saturday. Natalie Rolon-Issa of Bacon Academy had a big PR of 128’3” at the Class M championships and could be in contention for the win. Southington’s Trinity Cardillo has also earned her spot in the field with her best throw of 125’0” at the Open. Senior Wenesha Stewart of Hartford Public has thrown 125’ at the CCC North championship and just might take home a medal. Taylor Jax of Killingly is the sixth Connecticut entrant and is seeded 18th.
First year javelin thrower Kate Joyce of Weston has been a quick learner and comes into this meet as the top seed based on her winning throw at the State Open of 143’7”. Shelton’s Jacquelyn Simington took 2nd at the Open and comes into New Englands as the number two seed. Joyce’s teammate Shea Greene might be able to move up in the rankings since she has consistently thrown over 130-ft most of the season. FCIAC champion Hailey Angelucci of Trumbull threw her PR of 128’9” at the Class LL meet and will be looking to reach over 130-ft. Alexah Zaczynski of Southington and Meghan Harmon of Windham are both seeded in the top 25.
Girls Shot Put
Cameron Garabian of Seekonk, MA has already won New England championship this winter and is favored to win on Saturday. Connecticut’s Cardillo and Rolon-Issa have the next two seeds and should be in the hunt for the medals with Stewart of Hartford Public. Hillhouse’s Leah Moore is taking this weekend off to prepare for Nationals next weekend, but cross-town rival Okoli is seeded in the top 10. Tianna Rogers of Danbury has improved a great deal in in her first season of track and field. She improved seven feet to surprise everyone by winning the FCIAC championship and returned the next weekend to win the Class LL meet. Now she has made the New England meet and will be looking to add another honor to her resume. Seventh place State Open finisher Katherine George of Hall is also seeded in the top 20.
Rankings and personal records noted above are based on performance lists compiled at Athletic.net.