CIAC TRACK: Finest hour for Farley & the Titans! Sheehan girls capture State Open crown

NEW BRITAIN — Sheehan coach Charles Farley said of all the track teams he has seen in his 57 years of coaching, the 2022 Sheehan girls were the best.

The talented Titans have proven it beyond dispute.

Three days after winning the first Sheehan girls state outdoor title at the Class M meet, the Lady Titans captured the State Open on Monday at Willow Brook Park, giving Farley and the Sheehan track program its first-ever State Open.

“I told the girls earlier this season if they wanted to be the best track class ever at Sheehan, you have an opportunity to do that,” Farley said. “They’ve responded. We got here today and scored enough points.”

The Titans amassed 43 points, to be exact. They held off late charges from Joel Barlow (37) and Danbury (35).

When the final totals were announced over the Veterans Stadium P.A., the Titans took a victory lap with senior co-captain Madison DiPasquale hoisting the State Open plaque in the air.

“We were so focused on (Class M) that State Open’s weren’t even in our minds,” Sheehan co-captain Avery Winters said. “When we won (Class M), we felt we could win the State Open. We came in with high expectations, but we didn’t put pressure ourselves, and I’m just really glad.”

Farley told the girls at practice on Friday, the day after winning Class M, that 40 points could win the State Open.

Assistant coach Dale Nosel, who guided the Lady Titans to the Class M indoor state championship this winter, went home and crunched the numbers, sizing up the different opponents, and concluded it would be possible.

The Titans jumped to 43 and hoped it would be enough.

“This is Smash Derby,” Farley said of the Open. “Everyone is crashing into each other and the last one standing is the champion and that there was no one who was dominant. We got enough performances and we got our 43 points.”

The Titans’ lone gold medal of the day came early when the 4x100 team continued its domination and repeated as State Open champion.

The quartet of Patrice Mansfield, Amanda Castaldi, Maya Wresien and Winters controlled the race from beginning to end. The clock read 48.50 seconds as Winters crossed the finish line. It was a new school record and a harbinger of things to come.

“We are held to a high standard and this is just normal,” said Mansfield, who was part of last year’s 4x100 State Open championship team and ran the opening leg Monday. “This feels great with the team we have and the relay members. We just love being a part of the relay and we love winning.”

Mansfield handed the baton to Castaldi, who in turn handed to Wresien. Winters, as she was last year, was the closer.

“It felt really good and I love closing. The 4x100 is always one of our favorite races because it’s a good starting point for the rest of the meet,” Winters said. “The last 100 meters is always scary because the better the meet, the faster they are going to be.”

Sheehan’s 4x100 swept every title this year, from the SCC conference crown to Class M state crown to State Open, both indoor and outdoor.

Also on Monday, Class M discus champ Darla Jagrosse was second at the State Open. The Sheehan senior extended her school record in the event to 126 feet, 5 inches.

Jagrosse was also fifth in the shot put at 36-4¼. Her throwing partner, DiPasquale, was sixth in discus at 111-11.

On the track, Castaldi, the Class M 100 hurdles champ, entered her event on Monday as the No. 6 seed and wound up third with a 15.35.

Winters, the Class M champ in the 400 meters, nabbed fifth at the Open with 58.41, lowering her own school record in the process.

Mansfield placed third in the 300 hurdles in 45.97. That, too, is a new school record.

All of this after competing on Thursday in Class M. Farley said the team was hurting after just three days rest.

Also on Monday, Maloney’s Shaelyn Murphy and Cheshire’s Colin Brown won individual State Open championships.

Murphy, the Class L high jump champ, became Maloney’s first ever female champion at the State Open. She cleared 5 feet, 4 inches.

“Shaelyn is the best high jumper in the state and today she proved it,” Maloney coach Don Askew said. “She made a gutsy call to come in at 5-2. She didn’t want to play it safe. That was the difference. Everyone else came in earlier and their legs weren’t as fresh.”

Murphy cleared 5-2 on her second attempt and then made 5-4 on her first try to put the pressure on the rest of the field.

“This is huge for our program,” Askew said. “She’s accomplished so many firsts for me and it will make things so much easier. I’m just so proud of her.”

Murphy said it was unusual for her to get 5-4 on her first attempt. She usually gets it on her second or third try.

“I was very proud of myself for getting it on my first attempt,” Murphy said.

Brown, the Class L champ in the 100, overcame a slip off the start in qualifying to win the Open crown after entering as the No. 3 seed. Brown finished with a winning time of 10.89.

“In prelims, I wasn’t happy with myself,” Brown said. “I was shocked I came out that slow. It gave me some motivation for the finals.

“It’s one race and it can change easily; it’s anyone’s game. I was thrown off in prelims and I didn’t go out as hard as I could. At that point, I was just hoping to make finals.”

Brown said he felt proud to bring something back home to Cheshire. He said his uncle Kyle Brown, a former UConn runner, has been a source of support for him as well.

“This feels great,” Brown said. “I’m just taking it in.”

Later in the meet, Brown placed fifth in the 200 in 22.48.

Also representing Meriden on Monday was Platt’s Antwone Santiago. A senior on his way to play football at Temple University, Santiago collected fifth in the long jump at 21-6¼.

Up next for all of these athletes are the New England Championships on Saturday. Connecticut is hosting the event at Willow Brook Park.

Also on Monday, the Southington boys had some strong performances.

The Blue Knights projected as a contender in the 4x100 and were right there at the finish. Nathan Cofrancesco, Ryan DelMonte, Rashard Williams and Justin Zitofsky finished third with a time of 42.76.

Individually, Jack Freyler was second in the javelin. Seeded No. 2, the Southington senior threw a 180-8. Freyler also improved on his No. 5 seed in the shot put to take third with a throw of 50-4¼.

For the Cheshire girls, Squirrel Lanz was fifth in the 300 hurdles in 46.77. She broke a school record that stood since 1996.


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