By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Southington High School indoor track teams might have fallen short of their team goals for a top 5 finish, but don’t feel too badly for them.
On Saturday, Feb. 10, the Knights walked away from the Class LL Championship at Hillhouse High School in New Haven with 19 athletes qualified for the state open in six different events.
More importantly, Southington swept the pole vault titles at the event. Megan Biscoglio cleared 11 feet, 8 inches to claim the girls’ title, while Zachary Burleigh cleared 13 feet, 6 inches to claim the boys’ title.
Biscoglio won her title by eight inches, vaulting past Lia Zavattaro (11’0”) of Greenwich to win her first division title. Green said Biscoglio has certainly put in the time and energy over the years and had to hold off some pretty good competition. She will enter the state open as the top seed, and Green said that she has a pretty decent shot at taking out the state open meet record of 12 feet.
“Her goal is still to qualify for the championship portion of nationals, which requires a 12’4” clearance,” said Green. “First, she wants to get the win, second, she wants to get the record, and third, she wants to get the national qualifier.”
Burleigh came within an inch of his season best, beating NFA’s Christopher Weir (13’0”) by half a foot, and he also enters next week’s competition as the state’s top seed. Green said that it’s a talented group of vaulters, but said that Burleigh has the potential to pull out a career vault.
“This is 100 percent what he’s been working for since he starting vaulting as a sophomore, and it’s really going to show at this top-tier level,” said Green. “Ultimately, his goal is to qualify for nationals, but if he doesn’t get that mark and gets the Connecticut state open title, I know for a fact that he would take that in a heartbeat.”
In the team competition, Southington’s girls set the pace. Greenwich (85.50) beat out Danbury (71) to win its first CIAC girls title, but the Knights finished sixth with 28 points and a pair of runners up to go with Biscoglio’s title.
“I was hoping for some stronger performances from our relays, but we had a couple of nagging injuries,” said Green. “It didn’t stop them from running well, but they obviously have the potential to run faster. We had a bunch of other really strong individuals that even though they may not have scored, they were right there on the cusp. That’s what I mark as a successful day.”
Amanda Howe came close to her season best and missed the Class LL title in the shot put by a foul, finishing as runner-up to Susie Okoli (40’4.25”) of Wilbur Cross with a throw of 40’4.25”. Sydney Garrison also finished as runner-up, taking second to Allyson Lewis (5’6”) of NFA in the high jump by matching her season best of 5’2”.
Samantha Przybylski, Tayler Riddick, Natalie Verderame, and Kate Kemnitz broke the school record of 4:31.83 in the sprint medley with a time of 4:31.09. The previous record was set during the 2016-17 season.
Trinity Cardillo earned the fourth medal of the competition with a fifth place finish in the shot put (34’7.75”).
“The biggest thing was that all the girls really performed to where they need to they needed to,” said Southington coach Connor Green. The coach said that the top performances helped balance a couple of key injuries on the boys team and a false start that could have cost a medal and a higher team place.
Danbury (52) beat Staples (37) to claim its 10th CIAC boys title. Southington scored 13 points to tie Newtown for 16th place. Regardless of the outcome, Green said that he was very happy with the way the boys team finished, too. After all, it was their best finish at the state meet since 2010.
Burleigh led the way, but Southington claimed three sixth place medals. Jeffrey Hannigan medaled in the 600m (1:27.34), and Kolby Rogers medaled in the long jump (20’0.75”). Ryan Slesinski, Conner Leone, Matthew Penna, and Shane Leone combined for a medal in the 4x800m (8:34.17).
The following athletes will represent Southington at the state open: Biscoglio in the pole vault; Howe in the shot put; Burleigh in the pole vault; Garrison in the high jump; Cardillo in the shot put; Przybylski, Riddick, Verderame, Kemnitz, Abigail Connolly (alternate), Shannon Litchfield (alternate), Anny Moquete Volquez (alternate), and Kayla Pelletier (alternate) in the sprint medley; and Slesinski, Conner Leone, Penna, Shane Leone, Hannigan (alternate), and Lucca Riccio (alternate) in the 4x800m.
“I’m always going to be happy when we send athletes to the state open and beyond that,” said Green. “There were years where we didn’t send anyone to the open. To be able to bring our program back to the top here in the state has ultimately been our goal since day one, and we’re continuing to progress exactly how I hoped we would.”
The state open is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Hillhouse. Danbury is the defending boys state open champion. Bloomfield is the defending girls state open champion.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/02/13/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-feb-16-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.