TRACK & FIELD: Murphy’s new law! Maloney’s lone State Open champ goes back to back

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NEW BRITAIN — Shaelyn Murphy made Maloney High School history on Monday afternoon by collecting her second straight State Open track and field championship in the high jump.

The senior is the first back-to-back State Open outdoor track champ in school history.

Murphy cleared 5-feet, 4 inches on her first attempt to claim the overall state title just five days after placing second at the Class L competition.

Murphy headed a strong day for the area athletes at the State Open at Willow Brook Park. A pair of Cheshire juniors, Squirrel Lanz and Alexa Ciccone, collected silver medals, while Southington teammates Makenzie Marek and Rashard Williams landed bronze.

Lyman Hall senior pole vaulter Chance DeCrescenzo also mustered a third-place performance against the best of the best from last week’s five class meets.

None stood taller on the area podium than Murphy of Maloney.

“This is means a lot,” Murphy said. “A win is always great, but I wasn’t expecting it because there were a lot of really good girls out there and I’m happy with the way it played out. I’m really proud of myself.”

Murphy opened the day at 5-0, then hit 5-2 before her championship height of 5-4. She got each height on her first attempt.

“It was a good day,” Murphy said. “It always feels better when you make it the first time.”

Maloney coach Don Askew was full
of pride as his senior brought home the gold after entering as the No. 4 seed.

“Maloney High School has never had a high jumper like Shaelyn Murphy,” Askew said. “She is back-to-back State Open champion and that is something that may never happen again in my tenure at Maloney.

“I know how special this is and she worked so hard; she deserved this,” Askew added. “She had a rough indoor season with injuries and started to have a little bit of doubt in herself and abilities. For her to come out in the biggest stage of Connecticut and pull out a win is impressive.”

Murphy’s State Open crown last year was the first for any track athlete at Maloney. Briana Burt, who graduated Maloney in 2014, remains the school’s lone New England track champion, winning the 100 hurdles her senior year.

Murphy will try to join Burt on Saturday when the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track and Field Championship is held at Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine.

“We’ve had some great athletes come here and no State Open champions before Shaelyn,” Askew said. “She has a good mindset. She knows that one jump can make her a champion. She’s giving her best every single time. When she’s on, she’s on. Today she was on and I didn’t even say anything to her. I was just sitting there smiling because I knew she was going to have a big day.”

Also on Monday, Maloney junior Bria Benigni placed fifth in the 800 meters in 2:14.15.

Cheshire’s Squirrel Lanz nabbed second in the 300-meter hurdles with a 44.65. She was just on the heels of champion Kareema McKenzie of Windsor, who ran a 44.09, and just ahead of third-place finisher Jill Roberts of Wilton (44.66).

“I don’t really remember the race,” Lanz said. “The good races I usually don’t remember. I don’t think I’ve run that hard ever, so that was fun.”

Lanz was also fifth in the 100 hurdles Monday with a time of 14.96.

Lanz improved on her fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles at last year’s Open.

“The start is important for me because I don’t finish as strong as other runners,” Lanz said. “I try to start fast and not slow down long enough for them to catch me.”

Ciccone, meanwhile, improved on her seventh-place finish in the 3200 last year with a second-place in 10:48.49, which lowered her own school record. Ciccone was second only to Old Lyme’s Chase Gilbert (10:47.04).

“This race as really exciting because I just wanted to break 10:50; that was a goal of mine this season,” Ciccone said. “This is huge. Connecticut is so competitive. Placing in second in the two mile is really exciting.”

Southington had a strong showing on Monday with senior thrower Makenzie Marek placing third in javelin (114-11) and junior Rashard Williams nabbing bronze in the long jump (21-11¼ ). Senior William Reeves was fifth in the 300 hurdles (39.47).

“Makenzie is a natural athlete and she showed up big today,” Southington coach Nick Migani said. “She PR’d last week and came up big again today.”

To cap the day for Southington, Jessica Lombardo was sixth in the 3200 in 11:13.92.

“Jessica qualified for New England’s from the slower heat,” Migani noted. “She crushed the last lap. I think this was the day where she established herself as a big player in the state with this performance.”

The Lyman Hall day was highlighted by Chance DeCrescenzo’s third-place finish in pole vault with a mark of 13 feet, 6 inches. Lucas DeCrescenzo was seventh in discus (154-08) and Thomas Conklin was eighth in the 800 (1:56.17).

Sheehan thrower Wilson Moya was fourth in the javelin at 165-6.


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