By John Goralski
Colin Murphy looked exhausted after his leg of the race, but it was his second event of the McGreavy Invitational. Dan Parzych, Damiaen Florian, and Sean Conway looked just as tired as they finished each leg of the 4x400m relay, but the event marked the end of a long day on the track.
On Friday, Jan. 10, the four boys passed a baton from one to the other as they scrambled to beat their personal best on the darkened Middletown track.
Only two teams finished faster, and all three will meet again in the state meet. With just one more regular season race, the 4x400m team joined a growing list of Southington athletes bound for the postseason.
“I know that they were really tired,” said Blue Knight track coach Annie Groom. “But they just bit the bullet, went ahead and ran it, and made it with four seconds to spare. I thought it was a good lesson for the entire team. Even when you are tired or have your doubts, you can still find that little extra on a relay.”
The indoor track season is already coming to a close even though it seems like they’ve hardly competed, but that’s the name of the game in a sport that has limited venues.
The 4x400m relay was the only one to crack through with a state qualifying time, but Southington athletes battled for three more conference meet entries as they prepare to make their final dash at the postseason.
“We did really well considering that we were coming off what I call a two-week vacation with the holidays and snow days,” said Groom. “I was using this meet to figure out the condition that we’re in, and I think it really helped me out.”
It wasn’t all good news. Southington failed to qualify for the state meet in either of their sprint medley relays. They both came close, but there will be no more chances to run the race.
Jami Pliego, Katie Semmel, Kali Pliego, amd Erin Angelillo scored a top 10 finish in the girls race (4:54.44), but they fell just four seconds short of their goal. Murphy, Parzych, Florian, and Peter Majchrzak (4:02.65) finished 7th overall but fell just over two seconds from a qualifying mark.
“I really think that they should have qualified,” said Groom. “I think we can attribute it to our lack of speedwork over the vacation. I really do think that, if we had another week, we would have been able to get there. We definitely would have qualified. It’s too bad.”
On the other hand, Southington scored a few surprises.
Sean Garrison, a two-miler, was forced to run the 1600m, and his seventh place finish (4:49.34) came within one second of a state time. Jack Myers (5:02.1), Lauren Perkowski (5:56.62), and Garrison each qualified for the conference meet with their times in the 1600m.
Southington scored four relays and one individual in the top six. Majcrzak, Dan Williams, Noah Violette, and Liam Scafariello partnered for a fourth place finish in the 4x200m (1:41.75).
The 4x800m had already qualified for a state berth, and Dylan Sperry, Andrew Bielecki, Myers, and Garrison rallied for a fourth place finish (9:26.69).
Erin Angelillo is already bound for the posteason, and she matched Southington’s top finish with third place in the 1600m (5:37.01).
Scafariello reached the finals in the 55m but just missed the top six (7.07).
“I think it was a good meet for us,” said Groom. “It was a good field. I would even call it a respectable field. We didn’t have some of the key teams that we’ll face like Simsbury or Glastonbury, but there was some good competition.”
The Knights will have one more chance to qualify for postseason times before the conference meet on Jan. 25. This weekend, Southington will send a good group of 3,000m and 300m runners to the annual Yale Invitational.
“We’re going both nights, and we don’t normally do that,” said Groom. This is our last meet and our last chance.”
The pressure is on.
It’s known as the 9th and 10th grade state championships. For years, Glastonbury has enjoyed dominance as host team in their underclassman event, but on Saturday, Jan. 11, the Knights turned the tables.
Southington athletes dominated the individual events. Even though some of the Knights competed at the Wesleyan University meet just a few hours before, Southington rallied for the overall title at the annual Glastonbury Invite.
“What I came back with was that we have a varsity level JV team,” said Groom. “They were incredible. We placed first in almost every event I put them in, including some co-ed relays.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.