The boys 1600-meter sprint medley team captured the championship at the New Balance Nationals on June 15.
By David Heuschkel, West Hartford Press Sports Editor
From participation to results, Hall High School track & field has become one of the model programs in the state.
With 146 athletes on the boys outdoor team and 120 in the girls program, almost one in every five students at Hall does track & field. The Class LL state champions – Glastonbury boys (116 athletes) and Danbury girls (87) – didn’t have as many. Ditto for the LL runners-up – Norwich Free Academy boys (102) and Greenwich girls (96).
Competing as a Class L entry, the Hall boys won the state title for the second year in a row and the girls were runner-up, finishing one point behind champion Windsor. The Hall boys and girls program boasted 10 All-State athletes.
Dartmouth-bound Trey Cormier was both the Class L and State Open champion in the mile and ran the first leg on Hall’s 4 x 800 relay team that finished first in the New England championships June 8 at Thornton Academy in Saco, ME. Four days later he concluded his high school career by winning the CIAC 3000-meter steeplechase at Manchester High.
“On his birthday and he was sick,” Hall boys coach Scott Sampietro said. “It was crazy hot, but he pulled it off.”
Miller Anderson, who will attend Villanova, was the Class L champion in the 800 and ran the anchor leg in 4 x 800 relay that finished first that day with Austin Blodgett, Muhammad Ali and Dylan Rendon. Anderson, Cormier, Ali and Rendon also captured the New England title in the 4 x 800.
Their time of 7:43.85 on June 8 was ninth fastest this year in the U.S., top five all-time in Connecticut, a school record, and a facility record.
How can you top that? Win a national championship.
Anderson, Ali, Yovan Rivera, and Blake Morin finished first in the 1600-meter sprint medley relay June 15 at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, NC.
— Hall XC and Track (@hallxctf) June 15, 2019
Jenna Zydanowicz also had a great day at the New Balance Nationals. She finished third in the mile, setting a school record (4:57.04), and was sixth in the Emerging Elite 2-mile (10.53.14).
Zydanowicz, a three-sport athlete who runs cross country in the fall and plays basketball in the winter, was one of four athletes on the Hall girls team to win state titles this spring. She won two – the 800 and mile – at the Class L championships. Giovanna Dionicio was the champion in the 300 hurdles, Sydney Golas in the pole vault, and Olivia Bowes in the long jump and triple jump.
Sampietro attributes much of the success to the athletes working hard, believing in the program, and buying into what the coaching staff is preaching.
“I think it’s definitely the most successful teams that Hall has had overall,” he said.
And the graduating class of 2019 left their mark like no other track & field team at Hall. Prior to Cormier, Anderson, and their classmates arriving as freshmen in the fall of 2015, the Hall boys had one just one state championship: the 1955 indoor track title.
In the past four years, Hall has won a total of five state titles – three indoor (2017, ’18 and ’19) and two outdoor (’18 and ’19) This past winter the Warriors won the Class LL indoor championship and State Open.
“We have a lot of depth, kids who are working hard and want to be in relays and contribute to championships,” said Sampietro, who became head coach of the boys indoor and outdoor track teams in the 2014-15 season.
“When we went up to the New England championships [the weekend of June 8], we brought a bus with 11 or 12 boys. It was all seniors except for one sophomore. We had a meeting at the team hotel at 9 the night before just to remind them why they’re here and all the work they put in. We ended up sitting in the hotel lobby for an hour or an hour and a half with these kids. They were busting on each other, laughing about what happened in practice. I felt like I was with friends. Championships asides, they’re just a fun group of kids to be around. They love working hard, they love the sport, they love each other. It’s really a fun bunch.”
Sampietro believes there’s a correlation between the recent streak of success and the growing number of athletes in the program.
“I think it’s just because the kids are having so much fun,” he said. “We work hard at practices and they’re definitely out there sweating. At the end of the day the kids are out there competing. They like going to the meets and they tell their friends how much fun they’re having. When you’re having a good time, people want to be a part of that. I think that’s where our program is right now.”
Across town at West Hartford’s Conard High School, several athletes also found success at the New England Regional Track & Field meet in Saco. Allison Schneider placed fourth in the high jump (with a jump of 5 feet 5 inches) and qualified for the New Balance Nationals, and she also was 20th in the triple jump.
Chloe Scrimgeour placed ninth in the 3200-meter run with a time of 10:58, and also qualified for the New Balance Nationals.
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