Athletes from West Hartford’s Conard and Hall high schools competed Saturday at the New England Indoor Track and Field Championship.
By Howie Lam. Photos by Karen Sandler
On Saturday, March 4, the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, MA hosted the 35th annual New England Indoor Track and Field Championships. This brought the best athletes from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire which all advanced from their state championships in the past few weeks.
Among them were Hall’s boy’s team and Conard’s girl’s team – both of which were lucky enough to send athletes that scored big against the greatest of New England this year.
To start off the meet, Joe Nham – the school record holder in the boy’s 55m hurdles race, and now the first individual from Hall to qualify for the New England Championships for the event, placed 10th overall in the race in a time of 7.89s.
Nathaniel Aronson, Avery Allen, Ethan Striff-Cave, and Colin Goldschmidt beat their original seed time of 8:15.40 and their eighth place seed going into the meet, running a stunning 8:05.67 for the 4x800m for Hall which placed them sixth overall.
Following in the 4x200m, Fareed Abu Rabia, Charlie Cameron, Aaron Sandler, and Tommy Nash were able to collectively bring home to Hall a 12th place finish in a time of 1:34.38s.
Conard’s Tess Sherry had a huge breakout race, smashing her old personal best of 5:02.56 in the 1600m just two weeks ago at the CIAC State Open Championship, to running a blazing 4:57.47 Saturday in the full mile (1609m, about a 1.5s or so conversion). This performance placed her second overall in New England and she smashed the elite 5-minute barrier in the mile.
“I’m happy with my race yesterday, it was really fun to race against so many fast girls and getting to try a new track, and breaking 5 has been one of my big goals this season so that was exciting,” Sherry said Sunday as she reflected on her performances on Saturday.
Tess’s twin sister, Liv Sherry, also shattered her previous personal record in the 1000m of 2:55.87, running 2:51.27 in the race Saturday which placed her third overall in New England. Both are still sophomores and will continue onto Nationals this upcoming weekend to compete against the best in the nation. Tess will run the mile and the 1600m Sprint Medley Relay (200m-200m-400m-800m). Liv will run the 1000m as well as the 1600m SMR with her sister.
Hall’s Jon York and Gabe Sisk were also on fire Saturday. York, who is the reigning CIAC State Open 600m champion, and his teammate Sisk, were in the same heat and both competed to win, and also to attempt to break the year-old school record set by Toby Ruffo at the same meet last year in a time of 1:22.99. Turns out – that was no problem. York led out the first two laps, battling with the leader until the last 50m where Sisk swung wide off of the turn to out-lean York at the line. Sisk finished second overall in a time of 1:22.10, obliterating the previous school record. York finished third overall in a time of 1:22.14, also under the previous record. This performance placed Sisk 18th in the nation, and York 20th in the nation for the 600m.
Just under 30 minutes after such a thrilling race, Sam Sandler from Hall stepped onto the track to try and win the New England 300m title. After a race that placed him second in the state last week against Greenwich’s Gianluca Bianchi, he faced Bianchi again, with Bianchi on Sandler’s right side. Bianchi took it out hard in the first 200m with a move made by Sandler to close the gap very aggressively, but Bianchi won in 34.29s, and Sandler was just behind in 34.47s, breaking his old school record that he set just a little over a month ago. Sandler’s performance placed him seventh in state history for the 300m, behind Jerome Young, who competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics for the U.S.
“I was very happy with my 300m performance. I wanted to win today but you can’t win everything – advancing the school record was a very big accomplishment. I thought the performances today were out of this world,” said Sandler.
Conard’s Audrey Kirkutis returned Saturday as the defending New England champion in the girl’s high jump – and she managed to get the job done once more. Clearing 5 feet and 7 inches, she beat her opponent by having fewer misses on the attempt to clear 5’9. On her plans coming up very soon, she said, “Next week I will be getting ready for New Balance Nationals [Indoor] this Saturday. Hopefully I’ll see a PR but I’m just super excited for the meet overall. I’m very excited for outdoor [track] and to finally be able to train outside with spikes. Really hoping to see some PRs in this outdoor season too!”
Anna Siciliano represented the Hall girl’s team Saturday at the meet, throwing 33-06.50 feet in the shotput which placed her 17th overall in the championship.
Isaac Mahler represented Hall in the 2 mile, running a time of 9:28.72. Mahler’s performance placed him sixth in the meet, and almost matches his personal best that he set at the CIAC State Open Championship two weeks ago.
Through a tough battle in the boy’s 4x400m, Hall was able to emerge victorious and defend their title from last year. Fareed Abu Rabia started off strong, but was tripped after the merging cones which caused the relay team to not finish in their original heat.
In an effort to defend their title, Hall was allowed to sub in another athlete for the first leg and to race in a heat by themselves to try and beat all of the times already run. All four athletes had previously raced that afternoon so it was going to be a challenge mentally and physically. Jon York started off the relay, handing off to Aaron Sandler, then to Gabe Sisk, and finally to Sam Sandler. They crossed the line in 3:23.35, beating every other team that had already raced, meaning that they were New England champions once again.
“I told Jon, Gabe, and Aaron (who subbed in for Fareed) to stay focused and run against the clock. We did it for Fareed, all of our parents, friends, and coaches,” said anchor leg runner Sam Sandler.
“I think the 600m and the 4x400m were both great performances. I ran towards my potential. I just go out fast and see who wants to hang with me. Got passed around 350m in the 600m which was perfect because I just got to sit on that guy for the rest of the race. I think in the 4x400m I had more, but it was tough to run solo,” said Jon York about his races.
Most of these athletes will have their seasons continue as they will be attending the New Balance Nationals Indoor Meet this upcoming weekend, beginning from March 9 and ending on March 12. This meet will showcase many of the greatest athletes across the country at New Balance’s The TRACK in Boston, Massachusetts.
To follow along for results, free live streams, news, and more information, click here.
To see more results from the New England Interscholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships, click here.
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