By BRIAN JENNINGS
Southington advanced one individual and a relay to the state open when they competed at the Class LL Championships at Hillhouse High School in New Haven on Thursday, Feb. 11.
“The goal is obviously to run as fast as you can at the end of the year,” said Southington coach Dan Dachelet. “Barring a few events, everyone pretty much ran or jumped right where they were at the best point in the season. That’s really all you can hope for; to peak at the right time.”
The girls team placed 21st out of 23 schools. Danbury (78) won the girls Class LL title, followed by Ridgefield (56) and Glastonbury (51).
Erin Angelillo, Kate Kemnitz, Taylor Hubert, and Gabi Napoli broke their own school record of 10:18.21 that they had set earlier in the season in the 4x800m relay with a time of 10:09.35, finishing in seventh out of 16 relays and moving on to the state open. The relay team broke their record for the third time this season to advance to the state open.
“I think they have even more in them than that,” said the coach. “I think they have the ability to run in the low 10s at the state open. We just need another week of training. There’s a ton of schools right around that 10:03 to 10:04 range. I think we have what it takes to mix it up with those guys.”
Marisa Matthews, Hubert, Kemnitz, and Natalie Verderame won’t advance, but they broke the school record in the 4x400m relay, finishing 14th with a time of 4:28.98. The previous record was held by Angelillo, Faith Ritchie, Jami Pliego, and Raquel Romano and was set during the 2014-15 season with a time of 4:29.55.
“The 4×400 had missed the school record last time by like two hundredths of a second,” Dachelet said. “Given the adrenaline they had from the conference meet, we knew that they were definitely capable doing that. Marisa Matthews had a great first leg and an indoor personal record in the relay. That took us to the next level.”
Angelillo took a couple seconds off her seeded time in the 1000m, finishing 12th. Kemnitz finished right behind Angelillo and also cut a couple seconds off her time by finishing in 15th.
Napoli dropped a combined 17.5 seconds off her seeded times by finishing eighth in the 1600m (5:31.91) and 14th in the 3200m (12:08.44). Lauren Perkowski (12:19.93) trailed Napoli by just a few places in the 3200m and shaded a couple seconds off her time.
Amanda Howe cleared 32 feet, 4 inches to claim fourth place in the shot put. Howe was the only Knight to score a medal (top 6) at the Class LL meet, but she just missed the cutoff for the state open.
Danbury (96) also won the men’s Class LL title, followed by Brien McMahon (58) and Glastonbury (49).
Sean Garrison set the pace for the boys and will be joining the girls 4x800m relay team at the open after finishing 10th in the 3200m with a personal best of 9:49.38.
“He ran a great race and stuck his neck out,” said Dachelet. “He ran with that lead pack, but [winner Eric] Vanderels took it out slow in the beginning. In the middle of the race, he took off, and Sean just lost a little bit of contact. I think [Garrison’s] got a 9:45 in him, and it was a great effort on his part.”
Mark Murdy just missed the cutoff with a 15th place finish in the 3200m (10:06.64), taking more than seven seconds off of his seeded time.
“He ran a fantastic race,” the coach said. “He ran a very smart race with a consistent pace. For a junior to put a race like that together, you can expect good things for him come outdoor.”
Tyler Cyr finished 18th in the 55m dash and 24th in the 300m. Adam Dorau finished 27th in the 300m.
Angelillo, Kemnitz, Hubert, and Napoli are seeded 16th out of 18 in the 4x800m relay at the open, with Matthews, Perkowski, Laini Pizzitola, and Isabella Scalise as alternates. Garrison is seeded 17th out of 18 in the 3200m.
Garrison and the girls relay will return to Hillhouse High School on Saturday, Feb. 20 for the state open. The Competition is scheduled to begin at noon.
“It’s fun to be apart of all of these firsts and school records, seeing the girls team trying to write their own page in history,” said Dachelet. “We’ll continue to build the guys team up because they have a background of history and traditions. But it’s fun to be apart of the girls team when they’re starting to fire us off the board in multiple events.”
The last time Southington advanced an individual or a relay to the state open of the indoor track and field season was Matthew Bennett in the shot put in 2014. Bennett finished second at the open and went on to score a top 20 finish at the New England championship.