The State Open girls outdoor track meet at Middletown High School on Monday afternoon came down to a tight battle between a pair of FCIAC teams. Darien and Staples, the two best teams since the indoor season began in December, faced off once again to determine the winner.
Darien, which finished second to Simsbury at the Class L meet June 2, rebounded to win its first State Open title with 45.75 points. The Wreckers came home second (42) and Wilbur Cross (41) finished third.
"Over the years we've always done well in this meet," Darien coach Steve Norris said. "This year with three or four key people, we were able to get first place."
The Blue Wave enjoyed success in the sprint races to claim the title. Anna Sulger won the 400 meters (56.73) while Ludlowe's Emma Koether finished fourth (58.68). Sulger was a double winner Monday as she also captured the 200 (25.49).
"It feels amazing," Sulger said. "I've been working really hard and I'm glad my hard work paid off. I knew it would be close, but I feel that I prepared well for this meet."
Sulger edged Sashana Hands of Windsor by the slightest of margins (25.57). Hands closed quickly over the final 20 meters and nearly pulled out the win.
"The 200 was my last event so I was kind of tired," Sulger said. "I just tried to keep pumping my arms and just looked for the finish line. I knew it was going to be close but it was too close for comfort."
Darien's Madeline Schneider (12-00) finished first in the pole vault, ahead of Newtown's Jenna Calandro (11-06). Calandro won the pole vault at Class LL and won the swept the event during the indoor season, but missed time in the outdoor season through injury.
Staples sophomore Hannah DeBalsi rebounded from a second place finish in the 1,600 to win the 3,200 in a breeze (10:24.11). Primary competition in the 3,200 Claire Howlett, of Westhill missed the race as a result of an injury. DeBalsi raced with an eye on nationals, scheduled for June 13-15 in Greensboro, N.C..
"I was supposed to go easy, but I went a little harder than I was supposed to," DeBalsi joked. "My goal was to go as easy as possible to win."
In the 1,600 DeBalsi had a comfortable lead over Rivers before Rivers closed the distance before the final lap. Rivers (4:47.45) outkicked DeBalsi (4:47.45) over the final 100 meters to claim the narrowest of victories. Fairfield Warde's Cate Allen placed fourth in the event. The top four finishers broke the State Open record (4:49.89) as the rain poured down on the runners. Ridgefield's Laura Hergenrother finished sixth and broke five minutes (4:58.51).
"I really like running in the rain because it makes me feel tougher," DeBalsi said. "It was fun running in the rain. I like racing (Rivers) because we trade off who leads and it's not like we are drafting off of each other."
Staples' Erica Hefnawy finished third (2:16.79) in the 800, followed by Trumbull's Katie Foley (2:17.76) and Wreckers senior Tyler Scanlin (2:18.13).
Darien's Catherine Lacy finished third in the long jump (17-03.50).
New Milford, which won the 4x800 in both the Class LL and State Open in indoor, and the Class LL meet, finished second (9:13.70) to Tolland (9:11.71) Monday as both schools broke the open record (9:15.98).
Staples' Olivia Wiener (127-06) placed second in the javelin just ahead of Steph Roones, of Westhill (127-06). Both were right behind winner Megan Perrin of Watertown (127-09).
Danbury's Niema Riley finished fourth in the 100 (12.43) and fifth in the 200 (25.95). Bethel's Alexandra Hernandez (45.53) placed third in the 300 hurdles.
Taylor Drayton (125-09) of Oxford won the discus, followed by Samantha Mazur, of Brookfield (124-00) and Newtown's Amy Anyoha (115-03) and Michaela Nowacki (114-00).
State Open girls
Team scores: 1. Darien 45.75, 2. Staples 42, 3. Wilbur Cross 41, 4. Windsor 27, 5. East Catholic 22, 6. Amity 21, 7. Simsbury 20, 8. Newtown 19, 9. (tie) Bloomfield, Oxford, East Hartford and Tolland 18, 13. (tie) NFA and Glastonbury 17.75, 15. New Milford 14, 16. (tie) Danbury, East Haven and Ledyard 13, 19. (tie) Sacred Heart Academy, Hillhouse, Watertown, Career and Stafford 10, 24. (tie) Cheshire, Shelton and Hand, 27. (tie) Bethel, Ludlowe, Brookfield, Manchester, Avon, Weston, Waterford, Pomperaug, Maloney, Litchfield, Woodstock Academy, Coginchaug and Branford 8, 40. (tie) Ridgefield and East Hampton 7, 42. (tie) Westhill, Central, RHAM, Middletown and Mercy 6, 47. (tie) Farmington, SMSA, Haddam-Killingworth, Warde, Conard, Greenwich and Trumbull 5, 54. (tie) Housatonic Regional, Granby Memorial and St. Paul Catholic 4, 57. (tie) Plainfield, Canton, South Windsor and Sheehan 3, 62. (tie) Griswold, Berlin, Thomaston, North Haven, McMahon and Fitch 2, 68. (tie) Wilton, Norwalk, Bacon Academy and East Lyme 1, 72. Masuk 0.75.
Winner in each event and regional finishers among top six
100: 1. Cassidy Palmer (Stafford) 12.26; 2. Zoie Reed (Amity) 12.38; 3. Kanajzae Brown (Central) 12.43; 4. Niema Riley (Danbury) J12.43; 200: 1. Anna Sulger (Darien) 25.49; 5. Niema Riley (Danbury) 25.95; 6. Zoie Reed (Amity) 25.99; 400: 1. Anna Sulger (Darien) 56.73; 4. Emma Koether (Ludlowe) 58.68; 800: 1. Danae Rivers (Wilbur Cross) 2:14.40; 3. Erica Hefnawy (Staples) 2:16.79; 4. Katie Foley (Trumbull) 2:17.6; 5. Tyler Scanlin (Staples) 2:18.13; 1600: 1. Danae Rivers (Wilbur Cross) 4:47.45 (State Open record); 2. Hannah DeBalsi (Staples) 4:47.50; 4. Cate Allen (Warde) 4:49.33; 6. Laura Hergenrother (Ridgefield) 4:58.51; 3200: 1. Hannah DeBalsi (Staples) 10:24.06; 100 hurdles: 1. Chenoa Sebastian (Ledyard) 14.73; 300 hurdles: 1. Jaliyah White (Hillhouse) 43.48 (State Open record); 2. Alexa Hernandez (Bethel) 45.53; 5. Olivia Wiener (Staples) 47.46; 4x100 relay: 1. Windsor 48.50; 3. Darien (Brittany Henry, Madeleine Schneider, Anna Sulger, Catherine Lacy) 49.64; 5. Danbury (Jay'Yona Torres, Natalia Pereira, Bridget Chiaravalle, Niema Riley) J49.80; 4x400 relay: 1. Wilbur Cross 3:58.37; 4. New Milford (Hannah Tower, Helen Bayers, Sierra Grazia, Meghan Dietter) 4:03.40; 6. Ludlowe (Emma Koether, Kate O'Shea, Sullie Desmond, Rachel Hurst) 4:03.57; 4x800 relay: 1. Tolland 9:11.71 (State Open record); 2. New Milford (Hannah Tower, Sierra Grazia, Saige Grazia, Helen Bayers) 9:13.70; 3. Pomperaug (Erin Gibbons, Michaela Meyer, Allison Meyer, Sara Tarascio) 9:20.76; high jump: 1. Becki Golia (Sacred Heart) 5-4; 6. (tie) Olivia Sullivan (McMahon) 5-0; pole vault: 1. Madeleine Schneider (Darien) 12-0; 2. Jenna Calandro (Newtown) 11-6; 3. Jane Wall (Weston) 11-0; 5. Rachel Moroknek (Ridgefield) J10-6; 6. Laurel Bailey (Shelton) 10-0; long jump: 1. Zoie Reed (Amity) 17-6.5; 3. Catherine Lacy (Darien) 17-3.5; triple jump: 1. Dana Bramble (East Hartford) 37-1.5; shot put: 1. Destiney Coward (East Haven) 40-5.5; 2. Taylor Drayton (Oxford) 38-10; 3. Samantha Bailey (Shelton) 37-11.5; 4. Sarah Cicchetti (Greenwich) 37-7.5; discus: 1. Taylor Drayton (Oxford) 125-9; 2. Samantha Mazur (Brookfield) 124-0; 3. Amy Anyoha (Newtown) 115-3; 4. Michaela Nowacki (Newtown) 114-0; javelin: 1. Megan Perrin (Watertown) 127-9; 2. Olivia Wiener (Staples) 127-6; 3. Stephanie Roones (Westhill) 127-4.