Schools Sports

Hall and Conard Girls Tie for 3rd, Hall Boys Finish 4th at State Open Indoor Track & Field Meet

Liam Wright of Hall won the pole vault and set a personal, meet, and school record at the State Open. Photo by Craig Rosenberg for MySportsResults.com

West Hartford athletes earned spots on the podium, and set some records, in the State Open indoor track and field meet on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.

By Howie Lam. Photos by Craig Rosenberg

After a hard-fought battle against an extremely competitive field, the Hall boy’s track and field team finished fourth overall (34 points) at the CIAC State Open Indoor Championships last Saturday behind Danbury, Lyman Hall, and Windsor, while the girl’s team tied for third with Conard (32 points), following behind E.O Smith and defending champions Glastonbury.

The Hall boys came up short of their goal which was to defend the state open title for the second time, however, New England Championship qualifiers as well as a state open meet record fueled the fire to strong competition.

Hall’s first race on the track was the boys 4x800m. Led off by Donovan Connole, who started in last place, Connole moved up to hand off in third place to Connor Mayr. Mayr continued to control the race while remaining relaxed, up until the last turn where he was able to pull away to hand off to Jacob Szalewicz. Szalewicz ambitiously strung out the third leg, while maintaining first place before Isaac Mahler anchored the relay, only being beaten out by Ridgefield’s Steven Hergenrother (Who ran a U.S. No. 7 all-time 1000m last weekend at the B.U Valentine Invite), which landed the Titans for a second-place finish in a time of 8:06.96. The result put down eight points on the board for Hall, a very solid start as they qualified for the New England Indoor Track and Field Championship.

The racing magic continued as the girls 4x800m toed the line. Lauren Moskal stayed composed as a third-lap surge by Glastonbury’s Ava Gattinella strung out the field. Moskal was not fazed, as she pulled away in the last 50 meters, holding off Gattinella and handing off in first place. Abby Sanderson hung tight onto Glastonbury’s Jackie Dudus as she led most of the second leg. Going into the fourth lap, Sanderson made a huge move as she found herself back into first place, as she handed off to Julia Zydanowicz. Zydanowicz continued to gap the field as anchor Rylan Priest brought home the win, in a time of 9:28.83, qualifying them for the New England Indoor Track and Field Championship and putting down the first 10 points for the team score.

Joe Nham punched himself a ticket to New England’s as well, as he finished second overall in the 55m hurdles, with a time of 7.65 seconds. Nham’s second-place finish helped the team score with the addition of eight points.

The boys 600m was a thrilling event, as Hall’s Gabe Sisk and Jacob Szalewicz were entered into the same heat. A quick start from Sisk and a more tactical move from Szalewicz made for a very tight race. As they passed the two-lap mark in about 55 seconds, Sisk maintained his strength and won the heat in 1:25.38 for seventh overall. Szalewicz was just behind in 11th place in 1:26.32.

Jacob Walters, followed behind by his teammate Nick Xavier, finished 11th and 12th in the shot put, launching throws of 49 feet and 48 feet, and 7.5 inches, respectively. To put it into perspective, Walters started off his indoor track career throwing 26 feet and 11 inches, and he now nearly throws double that distance. Not only that but this season he started at 37 feet in December, with a breakout performance in January of 45 feet 11.25 inches at the Yale Invitational. Walters has been very content with how his season has gone, stating,“ This season has felt like none other. I came into the season with an open mind, it has never crossed my mind that I would have placed 11th in the State Open let alone qualify for the meet. Being a part of this team has given me a sense of community unmatched. I’m so thankful to all my coaches and teammates for challenging me to become better.”

Abby Sanderson returned to double in the girls 1000m and was seeded sixth overall going into the meet. Sanderson started the race in the very back. However, as the five-lap race progressed, Sanderson moved up slowly and slowly. A monster sprint as she headed into her last lap helped her pass four athletes, to be awarded a fourth-place finish in a time of 3:04.42. Her placement qualified her for the New England Indoor Track and Field Championships as well.

The boys 1600m sprint medley relay (200m-200m-400m-800m) was arguably the most fun event of the meet. Seeded sixteenth overall in the heat sheets, Hall was entered into the slower of the two heats for the event. Luckily for the Titans, a healthy Jon York, in addition to David Ladieu, Julian Serrano, and Gabe Sisk, landed themselves into second place overall in a time of 3:40.06, which added another eight points to the team score.

Hall’s Isaac Mahler battled hard in the boys 3200m with a very competitive field after he took out the race in about a 4:40 first mile. Mahler finished seventh overall in a time of 9:34.75.

Anna Siciliano continued her groundbreaking season with a first-place finish in the girls shot put, with an astonishing throw of 41 feet and half an inch. Siciliano earned the Titans ten points on the girl’s side as well as a qualification for the New England Championship.

To seal off the competition around the oval, the boys 4x400m (Julian Serrano, Jacob Szalewicz, Tommy Nash, and Gabe Sisk) came in seventh overall, in a time of 3:33.17. The girls 4x400m (Lauren Moskal, Julia Zydanowicz, Abby Sanderson, Rylan Priest) obliterated the school record which had stood since 2005, in a time of 4:03.73. The girls qualified for the New England Track and Field Championship with their second-place finish behind E.O Smith, another eight points to the girl’s team score.

The final event of the exciting afternoon was the boys pole vault. Liam Wright not only cleared his personal record of 15 feet 5 inches for the first time since June of 2023 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals Championships but also broke the school record and the meet record of 15 feet 4 inches. Following the jump, Wright advanced to what would be the Connecticut state record of 15 feet 10.5 inches, however, he was not able to clear it. Wright added the final 10 points to the boys score, finalizing their score of 34 points.

Tess Sherry of Conard finished second in the 1600 at the State Open. Photo by Craig Rosenberg for MySportsResults.com

The Conard girls saw podium finishes by multiple athletes, propelling the Red Wolves to a third-place tie with the Hall girls. In the 1600m race, Tess Sherry was second in 4:57.47 behind Newington’s Katherine Bohlke. Sherry followed up that performance with a fourth-place finish in the 3200 (11:05.26). Her twin sister, Liv Sherry, took third place in the 1000 meter (2:56.66), and the Sprint Medley Relay team of Gracelyn Williams, Mariana Temponi, Daphne Brewer, and Liv Sherry finished in third place in 4:18.95.

In the field, Conard’s Lizzy Tidwell finished fifth in the long jump (17-10.50) and third in the high jump (5-04.00).

The top six athletes in every event qualified themselves for the New England Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston, Massachusetts. There, athletes will square off in what most likely will be their second-to-last competition of the indoor season, followed by the New Balance Indoor Nationals Championships, held at both the Reggie Lewis Center and the Track and New Balance. 

Ronni Newton contributed to this report.

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