Hall and Conard Track and Field Athletes competed at the national level over the weekend, returning to West Hartford with a variety of medals, records, and personal bests.
By Howie Lam
From Thursday, March 9 through Sunday, March 12, the 2023 New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships brought in the top middle school and high school athletes from across the nation to compete for records and fast times on the new facility, “The TRACK at New Balance.”
This indoor season, Hall sent 22 qualifying athletes, while Conard sent five. Many were able to set personal bests, meet their end-of-season goals, and even break a few school records along the way.
For the Hall boys, it started early Friday morning with Ethan Striff-Cave putting down a fast mile of 4:28.91 in the Rising Stars section which placed him 25th overall. (The difference between “Championships” and “Rising Stars” is that championships have slightly faster times required to qualify.) Striff-Cave’s performance on Friday just missed his personal best which he set just a few weeks ago at the Boston University Last Chance Meet.
In the championship boy’s 400m just shy of an hour after the mile, Sam Sandler ran 49.32s, a new indoor personal best for the Titan.
Later that day, Joe Nham, Tommy Nash, Aaron Sandler, and Connor Mayr represented Hall’s B team in the boy’s 1600m sprint medley relay (200m-200m-400m-800m), in a time of 3:45.75. Hall’s A team, which consisted of Samuel Sandler, Charlie Cameron, Jonathan York, and Gabriel Sisk, came home as All-Americans in a time of 3:31.75, a new school record by over a second. York ran a blazing 400m leg in 48.09s, a new best for him, while Sandler opened the race with a 200m in 21.38s.
Conard’s Annabel Tracy, Gracelyn Williams, Tess Sherry, and Liv Sherry brought home a second place finish for the Rising Stars section in the girl’s sprint medley relay in a time of 4:10.12 – beating their best time by 11 seconds and the school record by 8 seconds.
Liv Sherry, who split a 2:13.92 in the 800m leg – a time that would’ve broken the indoor school record (which she broke the next day, but unfortunately relay splits do not count as school records) and the outdoor record by over one-and-a-half seconds. Tess Sherry’s split for the 400m leg in 60.14 seconds would’ve out edged the current indoor school record by 0.06s.
For the Hall girls, Katie Moskal, Sarah Punt, Lauren Moskal, and Rylan Priest ran a time of 4:17.71 for the 1600m sprint medley relay. Their performance placed them 10th overall in the Rising Stars Section, and second overall in school history.
On Saturday, Hall hurdle-phenom Joe Nham started off the day with a performance of 8.60s in the Rising Stars boy’s 60m hurdles, missing the semi-finals by 0.04s. Nham’s race made him a two-time school record holder in both the 55m and 60m hurdles.
In the field competition, Hall’s current school record holder Liam Wright placed seventh overall in the Rising Stars pole vault, clearing a height of 4.35m or 14-03.25 feet.
Conard’s Audrey Kirkutis cleared 1.68m or 5-06.00 to end her final indoor competition. Kirkutis placed eighth overall in the championship section of the girl’s high jump.
On Saturday evening, Colin Goldschmidt, Nathaniel Aronson, Isaac Mahler, and Ben Lewis ran 18:19.25 for the championship 4×1 mile relay, placing them 20th overall, with splits of 4:28.40, 4:34.95, 4:31.99, and 4:43.91 respectively.
To end off Saturday night, Liv Sherry set the school record in the 800m, which she finished in 2:14.10. Her record-breaking race placed her 25th overall. Gabe Sisk placed ninth overall for Hall in the Rising Stars 800m in a time of 1:56.91. Sisk, after a season conflicted with sickness, thought that his season went well. “…I accomplished my goals in the 600m and I was very proud of that. There were a lot of ups and downs but luckily I was able to persevere and turn my mindset around to enjoy the season. I think outdoor [track] will be amazing, and I plan to accomplish big things.”
Tess Sherry ended her final race of her sophomore indoor track season in the championship girl’s mile. Sherry placed 43rd overall with a fast time of 4:59.49, the second-fastest girl’s mile from a Connecticut athlete in the championship.
Finishing off the final two events for the Titans were the 4x800m relay and the 4x400m relay. In the Championship 4x800m relay, Colin Goldschmidt, Nathaniel Aronson, Connor Mayr, and Isaac Mahler ran a time of 8:15.63, a bit off of their season best. Leading up to the race, Mayr dealt with severe sickness and a long-lasting headache but was able to pull through and run a solid third leg for the team.
In the 4x400m relay, Sam Sandler, Aaron Sandler, Gabriel Sisk, and Jon York finished 11th overall in the championship section. Their time of 3:21.42 was just 0.1s shy of beating the state record, a target that they wanted to achieve all season long. “I think the 4x400m did well,” said York. “We were all disappointed that we didn’t get the state record but we are ready to chase after the outdoor state record.”
For all of these athletes, this was their last indoor performance, wrapping up the 2022-2023 season. Up next is the outdoor track and field season, with practices starting March 18. The athletes are looking forward to more competition in what is going to be a very promising and thrilling outdoor season.
To look at the upcoming spring season athletic schedule for both Hall and Conard, click here.
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