Indoor Track: Knights send 7 to NE championship

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Blue Knight coaches said that more athletes advanced to the state open this year than ever before. The Southington indoor track and field team made its presence felt last Saturday at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven with two individuals and a relay team moving on to the New England championship.

The girls team also placed 10th with 18 points, and one individual won a state title. Here are the highlights from the championship event:

Each of the qualifiers for the New England championships came from the girls side for Southington. Sydney Garrison not only broke a school record, but won the state open championship in the high jump with a height of 5 feet, 6.5 inches.

“In Sydney’s case she’d had two straight meets that she had gone into with higher expectations than she ended up with,” girls coach Dan Dachelet said. “I know this meet with all of the pressure was a great victory for her. It’s such a mental event and for her to bounce back was huge.”

After winning the Class LL championship in shot put, Trinity Cardillo is moving on to New Englands with a second place finish to Alliya Boothe of Bloomfield, with a distance of 43 feet, 4.75 inches.

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“Trinity is getting very consistent at 52 to 53 feet,” Dachelet said. “She had a high 54-foot range at the open so she’s ready to pop a good one. Fortunately she has some great competition in Connecticut with Leah Moore and Alliya Booth. I know some folks hope to just blow out the competition, but these ladies thrive on the competition and are a good reason why Connecticut has three of the top-20 throwers in the country. Trinity is currently ranked 17th.”

The girls 4x800m will remain very busy despite the CIAC indoor season officially ending. The team of Diane Pillsbury, Lauren Verrilli, Anny Moquete, and Jackie Izzo advanced to the New Balance Nationals after placing the sixth-best time in Connecticut in the Emerging Elite National Qualifiers. They broke the school record by 11 seconds in that race.

Sydney Garrison set a school record to win the Class LL title in the high jump.

The ladies placed seventh in the state open, but the sixth place team, Norwich Free Academy, elected to not participate in New Englands, which opened the spot for Southington.

Cardillo and Garrison also had strong results in the Elite qualifiers, as Cardillo finished second in shot put and Garrison placed third in the high jump.

Nobody qualified for the state open on the boys side. Matt Penna finished 11th in the state in the 3200m with a time of 10:00.54. At the second annual weight throw championships, Matt Geary broke a school record with a distance of 48 feet, 10 inches. Geary and Ryan Andrews each finished top-20 in the state in shot put.

Trinity Cardillo advanced in the shot put.

“From both sides, our athletes who competed at the state open did a fantastic job representing Southington,” boys coach Connor Green said. “Having four boys qualify is great for a program that we thought was in a rebuilding year after graduating so many seniors, but what makes it even better is that three of the four will be returning next indoor season.”

Green highlighted each thrower posting personal bests and the boys 4x200m relay team posting two of the three best times in program history as some of the major accomplishments this season.

“We had a great group of underclassmen rise to the occasion of running as varsity athletes,” Green said. “Going into the outdoor season, I predict our guys are going to compete very well against the toughest conference in the state, but we also have some of the top teams just in our division, the CCC west. This has helped raise our standards when it comes to what we expect for our programs.”

The New England championships take place tomorrow at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston. The girls high jump is scheduled for 11 a.m. while the girls 4x800m relay is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at Sports@SouthingtonObserver.com.