West Hartford’s Hall High School boys indoor track team won the CCC Championship on Saturday.
By Howie Lam and Matt Zeman. Photos by Craig Rosenberg
After a long day’s work, Hall gets to call themselves CCC Champions once again after racking up 110 points across 15 events and setting three different school records Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
As returning CCC, state class, and State Open champions, the team had come back with many of its star athletes to score the second-most amount of points ever at a conference meet, only behind last year’s performance at the CCC meet.
Starting off the day in the 4x200m, junior Charlie Cameron, senior Sam Sandler, junior Julian Serrano, and sophomore Fareed Abu Rabia placed seventh overall with a time of 1:38.30. Shortly after, senior Vince Sullivan, junior Connor Mayr, senior Avery Allen, and senior Lucas Pyrro brought big points back to the team from placing second overall in the 4x800m with a time of 8:28.16.
To the 55m Hurdles, junior Joe Nham earlier told his fellow teammate: “[That school] record is mine.” And so it became after he won the preliminary heats with a time of 8.07s, smashing the old school record of 8.14s. Nham came back to the finals and faced off against returning senior New England champion Michael Johnson to break the school record once again, now at 8.06s.
“I’ve been through a lot this year, dealing with several illnesses and having problems with my body,” Nham said. But I was able to endure the toughest times, and CCCs was the day I could show off my hard work. I was expecting to run a faster time that day, but not beat the school record. I guess I decided that states wasn’t the day I beat it, but CCCs would be the day. So I am so grateful for having such an amazing team with amazing coaches, and I can’t wait to see what I can run at states. My next goal will be to run sub-8 and qualify for nationals,” he said about his season so far.
Following, junior Shawn Middleton stepped on the track for the 55m, against many of the top sprinters in state to run 6.95s, and placed 20th overall.
In the 1000m, junior Gabe Sisk trailed senior Francis Porrini III of Bristol Central for four laps until he surged in the final 200m to out-kick him – the first win from the team at the meet and a source of major points. Senior Colin Goldschmidt also placed sixth overall with a time of 2:37.45.
Not far after, junior Jon York, who was suffering with a hamstring injury for most of the indoor season, was able to win the 600m in a time of 1:24.04. Following him was Mayr, in a time of 1:29.69, a new indoor personal best. Sophomore Roman Tagliarini lowered his own best to 1:30.75, and sophomore Jacob Szalewicz qualified for the Class LL State Championships in a time of 1:31.27. Senior Jack Pastor also earned a new personal best with a time of 1:32.29, and junior Owen Murphy chopped some time off of his old best just set just last week to run a 1:33.65. Sophomore Seamus Deveney followed with a time of 1:35.69.
At this point in the meet, Hall had already set itself apart from everybody else in the meet with their score.
About an hour later, senior Uri Noiman and freshman Nathan Yingling opened up in the first heat of the mile, with times of 4:49.74 and 4:52.30 respectively. In the second heat, junior Isaac Mahler, senior Ethan Striff-Cave, and sophomore Ben Lewis stepped onto the track. Mahler, being sixth in the New England Cross Country Championships, and Striff-Cave and Lewis being a part of the overall team win in the race, had big races to run. Mahler held onto second with a time of 4:29.25 and right behind him was Striff-Cave in 4:29.97. Lewis held on for fifth in a time of 4:42.33.
In the 1600m Sprint Medley Relay, which is comprised of two 200m legs, then a 400m leg, and finally an anchor 800m leg, Nham, junior Tommy Nash, senior Aaron Sandler, and Abu Rabia took the win in a time of 3:43.52. Abu Rabia anchored the 800m in a time of 2:00.22.
In the first heat of the 300m, sophomore Max Fite opened strong in a time of 40.32s. And to close off in the final heat, Sam Sandler shattered the school record of 35.60 – which dated all the way back to 2004 – by almost a full second with a time of 34.68. Not only did Sandler break the school record, he bettered the CCC meet record of 34.71 by three-hundredths of a second.
Mahler once again struck in the 3200m and controlled most of the race for third overall, in a time of 9:51.60. Not far behind was Striff-Cave, in a time of 10:05.02. Pyrro, who had earlier run the 4x800m, placed behind Striff-Cave in a time of 10:15.29, barely outleaning sophomore Donovan Connole who was on his neck at the line with a time of 10:15.31. Right behind Connole was senior Apurv Manjrekar who ran 10:16.85, a huge personal best for him indoors. Sophomore Thijs Doot also ran a personal best of 10:25.74. After fighting sickness for the past few days, junior Jonathan Pincus was determined and fought all the way to a time of 10:25.88.
Aaron Sandler, Sisk, Goldschmidt, and Sam Sandler closed off the CCC Championship meet in the classic 4x400m relay and won the race in a time of 3:31.72. For most of the race, Windsor created a gap between their team and Hall’s, but Sandler was able to close it up on anchor leg in a split of 49.91s.
The boys had just as big of a day in the field, highlighted by junior pole vaulter Liam Wright’s school record-setting and nationals-qualifying mark of 14-00.00. He was able to defend his CCC championship and put 10 more points on the board for the Titans. Junior David Ladieu also put up some points with a personal best and state qualifying mark of 10-06.00.
Hall also debuted their powerhouse shot put team on the championship stage, making up nine out of the 24 competitors. Led by junior Josh Horenstein with a throw of 43-00.00, many of the throwers set new personal bests. Horenstein was followed by junior Jacob Walters in 42-08.00, junior Izu Nwachukwu in 42-03.75, junior Nick Xavier (who returned to the competition stage after a month due to a back injury) in 42-00.00, senior Miguel Herrera in 41-08.00, freshman Mason Griffin in 39-08.00, junior James Varellas in 39-02.00, junior Charlie Winokur in 38-06.75, and sophomore Zahir Butler in 34-04.00. These nine will return to Hillhouse in two weeks for the Class LL State Championship.
The long jump also saw some great performances, with junior Jack Sauer jumping a personal best in 18-09.00, Aaron Sandler jumping 18-08.00, and senior Mark Zadi jumping 18-01.00.
“CCCs was a great start to our championship season,” head coach Jeff Billing said. “I’m so proud of these boys for all their hard work and how much they are about each other. The CCC is the strongest conference in the state and event after event they rose to the occasion with huge performances. States in two weeks is going to be as fun as we try to defend another championship.”
On Feb. 11, Hall will head back to the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven against its State Class LL competitors to defend their title once again. This is in battle for their sixth consecutive Indoor Class LL championship title. Follow along on Hall Track and Field’s Instagram page at @HallXCTF or follow the live results on https://live.athletic.net/.
Hall girls (highlights according to Hall Athletics Twitter feed)
The Hall girls indoor track and field athletes also had some great success, with the 4×800 Relay team of Rylan Priest, Julia Zydanowicz, Abby Sanderson, and Maddie Pederson finishing second.
Priest broke a school record that she had previously set, competing the 600m in 1:38 for fifth place. In the 4×200, Lauren Moskal, Hana Roggendorft, Katie Moskal, and Sarah Punt took fifth in 1:54.60, and in the Sprint Medley Relay, the Moskals, Sanderson, and Punt were sixth in 4:32.58.
In the field events, Anna Siciliano was fourth in the shot put with 33-06.
Conard girls (according to MileSplit Results)
The Conard girls results at Saturday’s CCC Championships were highlighted by a first place finish in the 3200m by Liv Sherry in 11:15.32, and second place finishes by Tess Sherry in the 1000m (3:01.04) and Audrey Kirkutis in the high jump (5-4). Kirkutis also took fourth in the long jump at 16-6.75.
Conard’s Sprint Medley Relay was third in 4:22.68, and Sasha Belabe was third in the shot put at 33-9.
Conard’s Angela Dunuan was fifth in the 55m hurdles in a season-best time of 9.18, and sixth in pole vault at 8-6.
Conard boys (according to MileSplit Results)
A third place finish in the high jump for William Ladd (5-8) led the results for the Conard boys on Saturday. The 4×800 Relay team was fifth in 8:56.13 and Grant Bigger (4:44.68) finished sixth in the 1600m in a season-best time, followed by teammate Sean Morley in seventh in his season-best time of 4:45.58.
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