By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights track and field team traveled to the 33rd Yale Interscholastic Track and Field Classic to compete against high schools from a handful of states in the northeast from Friday, Jan. 16 to Saturday, Jan. 17. It’s a sprinter’s dream, on a gorgeous banked track, where runners lick their chops and hope for record-setting times.
Head coach of track Dan Dachelet took about 24 his varsity athletes with him to Yale University, which were the same kids that would be going to the conference meets.
“We were trying to get as many kids qualified as possible for the state meets,” he said.
Rylee Van Epps (10.33) did not qualify for states in the 55m hurdles, but broke an old school record even though she was new to the event. Raquel Romano (46.62) qualified for states in the 300m, finishing 73rd out of 140 athletes.
Erin Angelillo (11:04.92) qualified for states in the 3000m, breaking her own school record in the process by about five seconds. Lauren Perkowski (11:30.62) and Katherine Mellitt (12:10.93) also qualified for states in the 3000m.
Amanda Hamel (11:53.41) qualified for the conference meets in the 3000m. She just missed qualifying for states by a few seconds, but she’ll get another shot on Saturday, Jan. 24 at the SCC Coaches Invitational at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.
Dan Parzych (39.11) and Antoine Harris (39.14) both qualified for states in the 300m. Sean Garrison (9:28.73) qualified for states in the 3000m. Mike Fazino, Vincent Zhang, Harris, and Parzych (3:48.27) qualified for states in the 4x400m relay.
Dachelet said that the weather has made it tough for all of the athletes thus far.
“Everybody who is starting, we’re trying to get them peaking,” said Dachelet. “It’s been difficult with the cold weather. We don’t train outside once it’s below a certain temperature. We’ve been struggling to get in some hard workouts. Last week, I think we got one day in outside.”
Dachelet said that it was the first meet where his kids got to run the 300m.
“We haven’t had a chance to run yet,” said Dachelet. “This is the very first time where they could actually qualify in the 300 meters. We’ll take some of the kids, if they qualified, and put them into a different event next week. If they didn’t qualify, we’ll put them back in their special event and try to qualify them for state conference as well.”
As a coach, it was Dachelet’s first opportunity to see a high school meet with the number of athletes that went down to the Yale Invitational.
“This is a big meet,” he said. “This might be the best collection of athletes that Connecticut sees all year round. It was interesting to watch them pull off such a high-caliber meet to be so well-organized. The kids enjoyed the meet. They all had great opportunities. The competition was right up where everybody needed it to be. There were people pushing everybody in the races.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@ Southingtonobserver.com.