By JOHN GORALSKI
Erin Angelillo took off like a soccer defender pouncing on a loose ball. Faith Ritchie, Jami Pliego, and Raquel Romano looked more like sprinters than former cross country runners as they surged across the Middletown track.
The baton bounced between them like a game of hot potato as the four of them trimmed more than 10 seconds off their seed time at the McReavey Invitational Meet at Wesleyan University.
Wethersfield’s foursome eked a small win at the meet, but Southington’s second place finish was the fastest in program history.
“That was a 14-year old school record that they broke. They improved their time by something like seven or eight seconds from the last time that they ran it, and they beat the previous record by two seconds,” said Southington indoor track coach Dan Dachelet. “That record dated back to the 2000-2001 season. It was the second oldest indoor school record.”
Each one of them averaged about 67 seconds for their leg of the race, and the girls finished the relay in 4 minutes, 29.55 seconds. Across the board, Southington athletes posted best times and distances at the meet, but the 4x400m finish was the icing on the cake.
“I think their training is starting to kick in, and we had a pretty good group of veteran runners,” Dachelet said. “They were motivated, and they did a great job. We’ve still got quite a few different opportunities for them to run it again, so I can see their number continuing to drop.”
The girls weren’t the only ones to raise the bar. Tom Perzanowski cleared 10 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault to secure a state-qualifying height, but he wasn’t the only one leaving his mark in a field event.
“It was a great day,” said Southington field coach Connor Green. “We had Everett Sperry, a sophomore, taking Noah MacDonald’s place in the throws, and he had a two foot personal best in the shot put. Then, Dave Massabni threw 40’10”, and that’s a nine-inch personal best in the shot put that furthered his state qualifying mark. Our girls didn’t throw personal bests, but they were all in the mid-to-high 20s. I was very happy about that because they are starting to show some consistency.”
The long jumps might have been the most impressive. Austin Baumann broke 17 feet (17’10”) for the second time this season to climb into the top 10 in the event standings. Bailey Kahl reached 17 feet in his final jump, and Tyler Cyr broke his personal best by more than two feet with his jump of 16’8”.
“We set a lot of personal bests, and started the New Year right,” said Green. “It was a great meet for us, and the biggest highlight was Tom Perzanowski going 10’6” in the pole vault and qualifying for states. This past week has been pretty rough for him. Weather conditions have not created good jumping weather, so he wasn’t even able to get his practice vaults in, but he was still very confident. He stayed with his old routine, knowing that it would get him to the height that he needed.”
Sean Garrison was the only Southington athlete to capture a win at the event. The junior distance runner beat his nearest competitor by almost three seconds to earn a win in the 1600m (4:47.1). His time was good enough to clinch a postseason berth.
The sprint medley team just missed qualifying for the state meet. Lauren Perkowski (5:52.07) came with two seconds of a qualifying time in the 1600m. Dan Parzych, Peter Majchrzak, tim Anop, and Mike Fazzino came within four seconds of a qualifying time in the 1600m sprint medley race (4:04.13), while Allie Brown, Nicolette St. Amand, Jessica Howe, and Katherine Mellitt came within nine seconds (4:59.23) in the girls sprint medley.
“It was a good meet. We had some solid season-best times from the group, and there were quite a few races where we were just on the cusp of qualifying,” said Dachelet. “We might have missed it by a second her or a second there in three or four races. It was a little frustrating that we had so many races come close, but now we’ll buckle down and give the kids an opportunity to focus and qualify. Hopefully, we’ll start to see some of those kids that were on the bubble get qualified in the upcoming weeks.”
Now, the team will make the final push toward the postseason with the Yale Invitational Meet this weekend in New Haven and the SCC Coaches Invitational the following week. Those will be the final chances to qualify for the conference meet in late January and the state competition in February.
“Hopefully, it will click over the next couple of weeks and get everybody in,” said Dachelet. “We want to get a solid field qualified for states.”
To comment on this story or to contact Observer editor John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.