ALL-RJ TRACK: State champs, school-record holders set the pace on this squad



MERIDEN — The run of area State Open track and field champions continued this spring.

Pun most definitely intended.

Cheshire senior Ryan Farrell and the Sheehan girls 4x100 relay team extended the roster of area State Open champions by taking gold in the CIAC’s most elite meet on June 10 at New Britain’s Veterans Stadium.

Both did so with record-breaking performances. Farrell set a new State Open record in taking the 800 meters in 1:50.58.

Sheehan’s 4x100 team of seniors Clarisse Aminawung and Allison Villano and juniors Patrice Mansfield and Avery Winters ran a 48.68 to break their own school record, a mark from which they had been squeezing tenths and full seconds throughout the spring.

Farrell and the 4x1 cleaned up in the year-end R-J awards — Farrell as the Male Cross Country Runner and Male Track & Field Athlete of the Year, the Sheehan girls as Team of the Year. They also set the pace for what turned out to be a deep All-Record-Journal Track & Field Team.

There are 34 athletes in the mix. This is not a case of us being generous. All 34 reached the State Open, but not all local qualifiers made the cut. Of the 34, 14 won a state class championship.

It’s a diverse group. Virtually every event is represented here.

So are all classes, from seasoned seniors to rookie freshmen, though given the cancelled season of 2020, sophomores were rookies, too, and even the juniors were uncertain commodities.

We know what they’re all about now. Here’s the full All-RJ rundown, by discipline.

Sprints

While Sheehan’s 4x100 commandeered the headlines, there were compelling story lines among individual sprinters.

Cheshire sophomore Colin Brown won the Class L 100 meters in 11.19 seconds and placed sixth at the Open with a season-best 10.95. Brown also qualified for the Open in the 200 after a third-place finish in Class L (22.85).

Cheshire junior Riley Hanover was SCC East Sectional girls champ in the 100 at 12.76. She finished second overall in the SCC, placed fifth in Class L and advanced to the State Open.

The Sheehan 4x100, meanwhile, saw some of its best individual performances in the 200. Avery Winters took the SCC East crown, then placed second in the overall SCC and again in Class M. With a 10th-place time of 26.04 seconds at the State Open, Winters broke her own school record.

Patrice Mansfield was right there with Winters every step of the way, placing third in the 200 in Class M and running a season-best 26.22 at the Open. Mansfield holds Sheehan’s 100 record with the 12.6 that placed her fourth in the SCC.

The Sheehan boys 4x100 carved out a page for itself in the school record book placing second in Class M in 43.71. The all-junior quartet featured Jelan Kollie, Paul Burkett, Lucas Leon-Barreiro and Ryan Villano.

There was a third area 4x100 that excelled this spring: the Southington girls. A testament to cross-training, the unit featured softball player Kayla Pelletier and soccer players Riley Prozzo, Shannon Litchfield and Abby Sowa.

The Lady Knights captured the CCC West championship at 50.38, then dropped their time to school-record 49.81 in winning Class LL.

A fifth Southington sprinter, senior Livvy Pizzitola, signed off with the program’s individual 100 record: 12.49. Pizzitola placed third in Class LL.

Some of the area’s best times in the 100 and 200 were posted by Maloney freshman Marquis Ward. He can boast of a 10.8 in the 100 and a 23.4 in the 200.

At the Class L meet, Ward placed fifth in the 100 and seventh in 200.

He also made All-RJ in a third event ...

Jumps

And that event was the long jump. Ward landed 19 feet, 11¼ inches to win the CCC South championship, then popped a school-record 21-6 to place second in Class L. The former record had stood since 1981.

The area’s top female jumper was Erin Brennan. The Sheehan junior swept the SCC in the long jump, triple jump and pole vault. She was Class M champ in the triple and runner-up in the long and pole vault.

Brennan qualified for the Open in all three events and heads to her senior year either holding or sharing Sheehan records in all three: 18-3½ in the long, 36-6 in the triple and 11-0 in the pole vault.

Southington had a champion vaulter in Aiden Chesanow. The senior cleared 12 feet to win the CCC West, then raised the bar to 13 feet in winning Class LL.

Leading the way among the high jumpers were Sheehan’s Jelan Kollie and Maloney’s Kyle Wimbish. Both cleared 5-10 — Kollie to capture the SCC East Sectional, Wimbish to place third in Class L.

Hurdles

While Clarisse Aminawung earned her state gold with the 4x100, hurdles were her individual forte. The Sheehan senior was SCC champion in the 300 intermediates.

Aminawung placed second in Class M at that distance and qualified for the State Open. As Aminawung heads to SCSU, her Class M time of 47.88 goes in the books as the Sheehan record.

One of Aminawung’s top competitors in the SCC was junior Kira Zawalich of Cheshire. Zawalich out-dueled Aminawung in the 300 at the SCC East Sectional with a 47.26, then placed second to the Sheehan senior in the overall SCC Championships.

Zawalich came away sixth in Class L. In the 100 highs, she was second in the SCC East in 16.41.

Mid-distance

Ryan Farrell was one of four excellent half-milers on the area scene this spring.

Meriden’s Reynaldo Torres, in his last meet before heading to CCSU, set a Maloney record in placing ninth at the State Open in 1:57.54. Torres was fourth in Class L in the 800 and also part of Maloney’s school-record 4x800 relay.

Sheehan sophomore Olivia Platt broke a school record when she placed fifth in Class M at 2:22.03 and broke it again placing 10th at the Open in 2:18.73. At the conference level, Platt was the SCC East 800 champ and overall SCC runner-up.

The runner who beat Platt in the SCC finals? Cheshire freshman Mia Vientos, who ran a personal-best 2:22.01 that day. Vientos was also on the Cheshire girls 4x800 relay that won the SCC title in 10 minutes flat.

Distance

Southington’s 1-2 cross country punch of junior Jackie Izzo and senior Grace Michaud led the charge here.

Izzo, back in full from an injury that delayed her cross country season, honed in on the 1600. She set a school record at 5:01.55 during the regular season, won the CCC West title, placed fifth in Class LL and sixth at the Open.

Michaud, the R-J Female Cross Country Runner of the Year, locked in on the 3200 and wound up with the school record with the 10:56.52 she posted the State Open.

Michaud was second in the CCC West, second in Class LL and seventh at the Open. She advanced to the national championships.

The area’s top newcomer at distance was Maloney freshman Bria Benigni. Steadily dropping time, Benigni won the 3,200 at the CCC South meet and placed second in the 1,600. She was fifth in both events in Class L and advanced to the State Open in both as well.

Benigni’s 3200 time of 11:42.42 shattered a school record. Her season-best in the 1,600 was the 5:19.27 at the Open.

Throws

Be it a javelin, shot put or discus — or combination of the three — the area’s top throwers fired away deep into the postseason.

Three class championships were claimed. Southington’s Kayla Pelletier won Class LL javelin at 128-1, Lyman Hall junior Mackenzie Grady took Class L javelin at 103-0 and Sheehan senior Caitlyn Hunt captured Class M shot put at 35-4½.

Several others won conference championships. Hunt’s junior teammate at Sheehan, Darla Jagrosse, was SCC champ in the discus with a PR 112-4 and runner-up in the shotput with a PR 36-9. She was second to Hunt in Class M shot put.

Pelletier’s Southington teammate Alexah Zaczynski won javelin and shot put in the CCC West and ultimately reached the State Open in both of those events, plus pole vault.

Pelletier and Zaczynski were part of a deep Southington javelin contingent that dominated not only in the conference, but in Class LL. Zaczynski placed second to Pelletier in Class LL, then took second again at the State Open while Pelletier placed third.

Bound for West Point, Zaczynski holds the Southington girls javelin record at 135-5.

Here in Meriden, Platt senior Aaliyah Burnley swept the CCC South titles in discus (106.7) and shot put (32-7). Burnley pushed the tape measure in both events at the state meets, taking third in the shot in Class MM at 34-0 and third in the discus at the Open at 118-5.

Among the boys, Southington junior Jack Freyler uncorked PRs of 162-4 in javelin and 128-4 in discus to garner gold at the CCC West meet. He wound up second in both events in Class LL, extending his PR in discus to 134-3.

Some of the biggest postseason strides were made by Cheshire senior Jotham Casey. He went from a third-place throw of 156-3 in the SCC meet to a third-place throw of 173-3 in Class L.

In track, it’s where you end up over the course of a season that matters most, and gets you on the All-Record-Journal Team to boot.



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