Several Hall athletes will head to the New England Championships, including junior Miller Anderson who won the 1000m race on Saturday.
By Ronni Newton
The Hall boys indoor track and field team was fresh off a first-place finish in the Class L state meet last week, but the West Hartford team nevertheless arrived at Saturday’s State Open as an underdog based on seeding, surprising everyone by nearly dethroning perennial champion Danbury and handily taking second place.
“We were seeded only to get three points,” head coach Scott Sampietro said Sunday. “It was sort of like last year’s state meet when we were the underdog,” he said, and he knew that the athletes could exceed expectations.
Hall won two events Saturday, a first place finish for Miller Anderson in the 1000m and a win for the the 1600 sprint medley relay team.
“Miller wanted to win,” Sampietro said of the junior whose seeding didn’t even place him in the fastest heat. Anderson bested his seeding time by nearly 6 seconds, crossing the finish line in 2:31.79, beating William Landowne of Staples, who ran in the fastest heat, by 0.001.
The sprint medley relay team of Naji Middleton, Yovan Rivera, Mason Stabile, and Anderson also took first place, finishing in 3:40.59.
Junior Trey Cormier was third in the 1600m, running 4:19.68, 9 seconds faster than his seed time. Sampietro said he didn’t realize until later that Cormier had set a new school record, surpassing Ari Klau’s mile time of 4:19.84 set in 2015.
The top six finishers in each event continue on to the New England Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston on March 3, and Cormier also qualified with a fourth-place finish in the 3200m. His 9:25.61 was more than 11 seconds faster than his seed time.
Sampietro said that Cormier has elected to run just the 3200m at the New England regional meet. He declared his plans at the State Open, which will allow the seventh-place finisher to have a chance to move on. “All season Trey has never done the 2-mile fresh, he’s looking forward to seeing what he can do fresh,” Sampietro said.
The 4×800 relay team (Cole Canarie, Paul Chavey, Dylon Rendon, Muhammad Ali), which took third place at the State Open in 8:13.43, more than 2 seconds faster than it was seeded, will also go to New Englands, as will the 4×200 relay team of Middleton, Rivera, Joseph Morin, and Jason Farrell Jr. which finished in 1:34.67 for sixth place.
Sampietro said there wasn’t a lot of pressure heading into the State Open, but Hall exceeded expectations from the start.
“All along we were in contention to win the whole thing,” Sampietro said. The meet went down to the final event, the 4×400, which Danbury won in 3:28.55, giving the Hatters 10 points for a total of 44. Hall finished with 37 points, ahead of Derby which had 26. Hall’s 4×400 relay team, taking eighth in 3:34.20, surpassed its seeding time by more than 2 seconds, and another 2.1 seconds would have meant second place in the event, 8 more points, and a win for the team.
“We fell a little short, but we are definitely not disappointed,” Sampietro said. “I don’t think we have ever finished this high in the Open, and Danbury [as a school] is pretty much double our size.”
Hall’s girls 4×400 relay team also competed at the State Open but did not place, nor did shot putter Katherine George.
Long jumper Olivia Bowes, who won the Class L meet, took 11th place and missed qualifying for the finals. “But she’s still a state champion,” Sampietro said, and will be back next year as will many of the top athletes.
“I’m looking forward to getting the girls up to the level of the boys next year,” Sampietro said. This year they finished fourth in Class L, but he thinks they stand a really good chance of winning next year.
“We’re really proud of these guys every day,” Sampietro said of all of the indoor track and field competitors.
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