The Hall High School boys indoor track and field team won the Connecticut State Open on Feb. 17, and several athletes from Hall, along with two from West Hartford’s Conard High School, will compete Saturday in the New England Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships.
By Ronni Newton
The 4×400 relay team clinched wins for West Hartford’s Hall High School boys in the Class LL and State Open championships on two consecutive weekends, and along with several other Hall runners, a jumper from the girls team, and a pair of athletes from Conard High School, will compete in the New England Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Boston.
“It was certainly exciting,” Hall head coach Scott Sampietro said after the boys team clinched the State Open championship in the final seconds of the meet on Feb. 17.
“Once again it came down to the 4×4,” he said. “That seems to be a thing for us.”
Based on the seedings from the class meets, Hall was predicted to finish third overall in the State Open, with Bloomfield favored to win, followed by Hillhouse.
Hall trailed Bloomfield by 1.5 points heading into the 4×400 – the final event of the meet. Hall was seeded fourth in the event.
“We didn’t know this at the time, because the high jump was just finishing and results weren’t official, but we were 1.5 points behind Bloomfield going into the 4×4. In reality, we thought we were 3 points behind them, so the message to the boys was run as hard as you possibly can, try to win the race, and hopefully you and somebody else will beat Bloomfield,” said assistant coach Jeff Billing.
“The only problem with this plan was that Bloomfield had, by far, the fastest 4×4 team of anyone in the state. Their season best of 3:22 was a full 9 seconds better then our season best from [the Class LL meet the previous] week (3:31) and 6 seconds better then the next best Connecticut team (Hillhouse 3:28). Uh-oh,” Billing said. Then two teams running in the “slower” heats broke 3:30.
“I had every confidence in them,” Sampietro said.
And the boys did not disappoint. “They did what they needed to do until the end,” he said.
Senior Blake Morin led off, running his third event of the day, and passed the baton in third place.
Sophomore Izzo Lizardi was having a great day, earlier in the meet getting a personal record (PR) in the sprint medley relay. Running the second leg – his third event of the day – Lizardi had his second PR of the day and closed the gap.
Senior Muhammad Ali ran the 4×800 earlier but skipped the 600m to be fresher, Billing said, and passed the Bloomfield runner in the third leg, handing off the baton just behind the Hillhouse runner.
The anchor, senior Miller Anderson, “had that look in his eye,” Billing said. Anderson had already won the 1000m and was part of the first place sprint medley relay team, but was competing against a group of anchors who could run sub-50-second 400s.
It was a race to the finish – with a battle between Anderson and Deshaune Poole of Hillhouse – and runners from Weston and Danbury passing the Bloomfield anchor.
Hillhouse won in 3:27.47, with Miller a few tenths of a second behind for a second-place finish for Hall in 3:27.74 – a new school record.
The second-place finish gave the Hall boys 43 points overall, and vaulted the team into first place, followed by Hillhouse and Bloomfield.
The Hall boys 4×400 team will compete once again on Saturday – and Sampietro said he thinks they could possibly be a second or two faster.
Also competing will be the 4×200 team of Joseph Morin, Yovan Rivera, Lizardi, and Jordaine Wisdom, which finished third in the State Open with a season-best time of 1:33.73.
Anderson, the State Open champion in the 1000m – which Billing said he won with a “last lap kick” – will compete in that event Saturday.
Trey Cormier, who qualified for New Englands in both the 1600m and 3200m races, will run just the two-mile race, looking to earn All-New England honors for the third year in a row.
With a jump of 17-01.75, Hall senior Olivia Bowes took sixth place in the long jump at the State Open and will compete in Boston on Saturday.
Conard senior Kate Shaffer, the Class LL champion and fourth-place finisher in the State Open, will run in the New England championship, and Conard high jumper Allison Schneider, a junior, will also compete after qualifying for the New England championship with a sixth-place finish in the State Open.
The Hall boy’s sprint medley relay team won the State Open in 3:34.06, breaking the meet record by 3 seconds, but that race is not competed at the New England championships. Their time qualifies them for the New Balance Nationals, however, which will take place in New York City on March 8-10. The Hall boy’s distance medley relay has also qualified for Nationals, as has Anderson in the mile.