By BRIAN JENNINGS
After advancing 19 athletes in six events from the Class LL Championship, the Knights boasted a state champion, a school record, and six top ten performances in their return to Hillhouse High School for the state open on Saturday, Feb. 17.
“I thought it was a really great day,” said Southington coach Connor Green. “To have almost every athlete competing finish in the top ten really is fantastic. I was really happy about that. Our program is at the point now where our kids are going in with the expectation that we’re going to compete for the title.”
Following her runner-up finish to Susie Okoli of Wilbur Cross a week prior at the Class LL meet, due to a foul, Amanda Howe edged out Okoli this time around by throwing slightly better than her seeded mark (40’4.25”) with a first-place distance of 40’7.5”.
“I know she wasn’t very pleased with her performance at the Class LL Championship,” said Green. “If you ask her about how she threw at the state open, she’ll say that she was happy to get the win, but she definitely wishes that she had thrown farther. It’s always good when they appreciate where they are, but they still want to do better.”
Megan Biscoglio (11’6”) and Zachary Burleigh (13’6”) came into the state open as the top seeds in the boys and girls pole vault, and both finished in third. Biscoglio finished behind Tyra Finkeldey (11’6”) of Old Saybrook and Lia Zavattaro (11’6”) of Greenwich by referral of jumps. Finkeldey and Zavattaro hit 11’6” on their first attempts, but Finkeldey hit 11 feet on her first try, while Zavattaro hit it on her second try. Biscoglio reached 11’6” on her third attempt.
“With the way she’s jumped all season, the expectation was to win,” said Green. “She had some very tough competition. What really made it difficult was that the first and second-place girls cleared 11’6” on their first attempts. Meg just kind of never felt like she really warmed up, but for her to clear 11’6” consistently was great.”
Burleigh finished behind Nick Petruzelli (14’) of Notre Dame of West Haven and Nathaniel Llanos (14’) of Danbury.
“He was not disappointed at the fact that he no-heighted the last two years at the Class LL Championship to then finish third at the state open as a senior,” said Green. “Did he want the win? Absolutely. He had a couple of good looks at 14, and he just wasn’t able to get it. But he did an awesome job, and I’m very proud of him.”
Ninth-place finishes came from Tayler Riddick, Samantha Przybylski, Natalie Verderame, and Kate Kemnitz in the sprint medley (4:25.74); Sydney Garrison (5’) in the high jump, and Trinity Cardillo (35’8.5”) in the shot put. With their time in the sprint medley, Riddick, Przybylski, Verderame, and Kemnitz broke their own school record of 4:31.09 by about six seconds that was set earlier this season. As the anchor of the relay, Kemnitz ran an indoor personal best of 2:24.08.
“They had great handoffs and all ran great legs,” said Green. “For them to come in as the 16th seed and finish ninth, I was very proud of them.”
Garrison had a couple of good looks at 5’2”, and Green said that if she had hit that height, she probably would have finished in the top six.
“That would have been phenomenal for her, but her being only a sophomore, it’s okay,” said Green. “We’ll take her making the state open and getting a top ten finish there as a really great thing.”
Cardillo also has a lot of potential in a bright future ahead of her as well.
“Trinity threw three really great throws all over 35,” said Green. “That’s a very consistent thing that we’re sure to see out of her. That was awesome.”
Greenwich (56) fended off Danbury (32) to win its first CIAC girls state open title. However, Danbury (44) also outlasted Hall (37) to win its third-straight (13th overall) CIAC boys state open title.
Howe will be the only Knight to represent Southington at the New England Championship, which is scheduled to be held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston, MA on Saturday, Mar. 3. The meet is slated to start at 10:30 a.m. with girls shot put going off at 11 a.m.
Howe finished 15th at last year’s New England Championship. But according to Green, Howe not finishing in the top four at this year’s championship would be surprising. She has the absolute potential to win.
“If she throws the way we know how she can throw, there’s no reason why she can’t win,” said Green. “She would probably view anything outside of the top five as a disappointment for her. As the coach, absolutely not. The fact that she made it there is fantastic.”