Lightning at Manchester High School just delayed the inevitable on Wednesday, May 31 because it couldn’t stop Southington’s outdoor track and field momentum at the Class LL championship meet. As strong cells pushed through the state, three Knights pushed their way into the state open.
The storm caused about a 45-minute delay on Wednesday evening, forcing the state meet to be postponed to the next day at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, where action resumed around 1 p.m. Most of the meet was near completion, with the exception of the 4x400m relays, the fast heat of the girls 3200m, and the girls high jump.
The Lady Knights placed 12th out of 23 teams. Danbury won their sixth CIAC Class LL girls title, and Ridgefield finished as runner-up.
“Going into the meet, they had us potentially finishing between sixth and 10th,” said Southington coach Connor Green. “We finished 12th overall, but all of the girls performed really well. If they didn’t set personal bests, they still performed their second or third-bests of the season.”
Amanda Howe muscled Southington by capturing the state title in the discus throw with a heave of 138 feet, 5 inches and taking third in the shot put with a throw of 36 feet, 2 inches, finishing behind Shelton’s Samantha Stevens (40’1”) and Enfield’s Camille Balicki (36’4”). Howe qualified for the state open in both events and broke her own school record (134’10.5”) in the discus throw for a fourth time this season.
“I saw Amanda’s farthest throw, and it looked like it was over the 140 mark,” said Green. “Shot put was not her best performance, but she regained focus and did enough to get to the open.”
Howe’s mark of 138 feet, 5 inches in the discus throw was four inches away from the state meet record, set by Stamford’s Tynisha McMillan in 2006.
“Being so close to the class record motivates her more to break the state record,” said Green. “She was excited to have the number one throw in the state.”
The current state record in the discus throw is 149 feet, set by Old Saybrook’s Karen Wyzykowski in 2002.
Megan Biscoglio also qualified for the open after launching into third in the pole vault with a height of 11 feet, finishing behind Greenwich’s Lia Zavattaro (11’6”) and Newtown’s Lauren Russo (11’6”). Biscoglio jumped just eight feet at last year’s state meet.
“To finish third overall this year is a huge accomplishment, and should not be overlooked,” said Green. “Even though it was not a personal best for Megan, she was able to figure out what went wrong when the meet was over. Her goal was to win Class LL, but she is ready to compete at the highest level at the state open.”
Sydney Garrison tied her seed of 5 feet in the high jump, tying for sixth.
Other top 10 female performances came from Trinity Cardillo in the shot put (9th), Julia Groll in the javelin throw (9th), and Kate Kemnitz in the 800m run (10th). Kemnitz, Marisa Matthews, Sarah Minkiewicz, and Natalie Verderame took seventh in the 4x400m relay, and the 4x100m relay was just a few hundredths of a second away from breaking their own school record.
“Being in Class LL, we have some of the best teams in New England to compete with,” said Green. “For our girls to go out there and perform like they did, I’m very proud.”
The Blue Knights placed 20th out of 22 teams. Staples won their third CIAC Class LL boys title, and Danbury finished as runner-up.
“It was mixed success,” said Southington coach Dan Dachelet. “The goal is to peak your athletes for the championship, and that happens with probably half the kids. Some of the kids were disappointed in how they did, and that they were a little off.”
Zachary Burleigh wasn’t disappointed after he qualified for the open by catapulting into fourth in the pole vault with a height of 12 feet, 6 inches.
“He was thrilled and happy to make it to the state open,” said Dachelet. “He’s becoming more consistent, and he’s not letting missed attempts get in his head. That’s the growth that Zach had over the season.”
Elijah Rodriguez finished first in the preliminaries of the 110m hurdles with a time of 15.45 seconds, but clipped a hurdle down the stretch in the finals, going on to take seventh with a time of 15.86 seconds.
“He got out of rhythm on the fifth or sixth hurdle,” said Dachelet. “He’s a rhythm runner, and that’s very much a timing event. Once you get thrown off, it’s tough to recover. That ultimately led to him not even running the 300m hurdles, which he was in a good position to qualify in two events to go to the open.”
Other top 10 male performances came from David Pastor in the shot put (9th) and javelin throw (9th), Anthony Mondo in the long jump (10th), and Jeffrey Hannigan in the triple jump (10th).
Cameron Coulombe, Teagan Duffy, Casey Selinske, and Joseph Verderame were the only ones to place for Southington in the team events, taking 12th in the 4x400m relay.
Howe (1st/9th seeds), Biscoglio (4th seed), and Burleigh (17th seed) will represent Southington when they return to Willow Brook Park on Monday, June 5 to compete in the open. The meet is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/06/05/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-9-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.