DANBURY — It was the ultimate test of teamwork and team depth, and at the 38th running of the O’Grady Relays Friday and Saturday, no teams were better than the host Danbury High School boys and girls track and field teams.
The Hatter boys scored 65 points, followed by Staples with 50 and Newtown with 47.5. The Hatter girls scored 87 points, followed by Trumbull with 50 and Greenwich with 45. What has always set this meet apart is its emphasis on the team more than the individual. Every event, even ones ordinarily competed on an individual basis, are scored as three-person relays.
“It feels great, just knowing that everyone was able to pull together and give it their best out there, and feel pride not only for themselves for for their team,” said Danbury sophomore Meilee Kry.
The Danbury girls won the 1,600-meter sprint medley relay, the shot put relay — led by event winner Celyna Custodio (40-1) — and the long jump relay — led by event winner Kry (18-11/2). The Danbury boys won the 4×110 shuttle hurdle relay, the 4×100, the 4×200 and the 4×400.
The Hatters always take pride in competing hard at this meet, not only because it’s their own, but because it’s named after legendary Danbury track and field coach Dan O’Grady, who coached the Hatters for 29 years and compiled a dual-meet record of 205-46.
“We always go out and try our hardest and try to win the meet every year,” said Danbury senior Christopher Cledera. “We’ve really worked hard.”
The Hatters hope their victories this weekend will translate in success at the championship meets later this spring.
“I’m really excited for State Opens,” Cledera said. “We lost that last year, so we’re hoping to bring back the win, and sweep again, hopefully.”
INTO THE PIT
The 2,000-meter steeplechase is, by far, the most anticipated event of the O’Grady Relays. The buzz for the event begins to build as soon as the fire hose is unrolled to start filling the water pit. It’s one part distance race, one part obstacle course, and absolutely delightful for the hundreds and hundreds of fans who flock to one corner of the track to watch and cheer as competitors try to navigate — and often fall into — the water hazard.
This year’s individual winners were both from Nonnewaug High School, as Mary Bibby won the girls event in 7:35.01 and Eddie Nicholas won the boys in 6:31.89.
“Whenever I got to that water pit, my heart stopped for a couple seconds and skipped a beat,” Nicholas said.
The Nonnewaug boys won the steeplechase relay. On the girls side, Alessandra Zaffina placed third (7:55.58) to lead Trumbull to the relay victory.
“It’s such a fun event. We always look forward to it,” Zaffina said. “It’s hard. Your legs get really tired. But it’s a fun race. The crowd, with everyone there at the water pit, helps you keep going. I love doing it.”
Jack Jones of Trumbull was the only participant to finish first in two ordinarily individual events. He won the triple jump (45-8) and the long jump (21-9).
The Greenwich girls distance medley relay team of Emily Philippides, Jordan Numme, Zoe Harris and Hetty McMillan won with a meet-record time of 12:22.35. They beat the previous record, set by Staples in 2013, by nearly a second.
O’GRADY RELAYS RESULS
Friday and Saturday, Danbury High School
Girls team scores: 1. Danbury 87; 2. Trumbull 50; 3. Greenwich 45; 4. Ludlowe 41.5; 5. Hillhouse 38; 6. (tie) Weston and Windsor 33; 8. Southington 30.5; 9. Bloomfield 27; 10. Pomperaug 26; 11. Shelton 24; 12. Sheehan 20; 13. Newtown 18.5; 14. Seymour 16.5; 15. (tie) New Milford and Darien 15; 17. Nonnewaug 14; 18. St. Joseph 11; 19. Haddam-Killingworth 10; 20. (tie) Jonathan Law and Amity 5; 22. (tie) Brookfield and Wethersfield 4; 24. (tie) New Canaan, New Fairfield and Staples 3.
Boys team scores: 1. Danbury 65; 2. Staples 50; 3. Newtown 47.5; 4. Trumbull 43; 5. Derby 33; 6. Darien 32; 7. New Milford 27; 8. East Lyme 26; 9. Greenwich 25.5; 10. (tie) Haddam-Killingworth and Jonathan Law 23; 12. Ludlowe 22; 13. Southington 18; 14. Pomperaug 17.5; 15. (tie) New Canaan and Shelton 17; 17. (tie) Windsor and Wethersfield 14; 19. (tie) Seymour and Weston 13; 21. Bloomfield 10.5; 22. Nonnewaug 10; 23. (tie) Hillhouse, Joel Barlow and Amity 6; 26. New Fairfield 3; 27. Montclair Kimberley 2; 28. Crosby 1.
4×100 shuttle hurdle relay: Shelton (Elizabeth Casinelli, Elizabeth Herlihy, Kelly Hurd, Kasidy Quiles) 1:11.12.
4×1,600: Haddam-Killingworth (Emma Anziano, Lexie Bouthillier, Julianne Kelly, Kelsey D’Amico) 22:21.18.
800 sprint medley relay: Hillhouse (Nyimah Ambrose, Jada Boyd, Nyiah White, Ayesha Nelson) 1:48.93 (meet relay).
Hammer throw: Amanda Howe (Southington) 155-11.
Middle school 800 sprint medley relay: Danbury Flyers (Kimberleigh Williams, Briana Gilliard, Giuliana Robles, Alanna Smith) 1:52.48 (meet record).
Middle school long jump: Giuliana Robles (Danbury Flyers) 15-5.5.
4×110 shuttle hurdle relay: Danbury (Alexander Beiku, Shay Fahsbender, Jonathan Ayala, Nathaniel Mensah-Simms) 1:12.00.
800 sprint medley relay: Hillhouse (Talib McBride, Neal Eley, Manasseh Bekele, Deshaune Poole) 1:34.72 (meet record).
4×1,600: Amity (Andrew Burford, Jake Mattei, Ian Carpenter, Connor Visnic) 18:14.24 (meet record).
Hammer throw: Christian Sturm (St. Paul) 178-5.
Middle school 800 sprint medley relay: New Fairfield Flash (Ryan Fata, Colin Mackenzie, Alex Kennedy, Patrick Gibbons) 1:52.29.
Middle school long jump: Alex Kennedy (New Fairfield Flash) 17-4.75.
Distance medley relay: Greenwich (Emily Philippides, Jordan Numme, Zoe Harris, Hetty McMillan) 12:22.35 (meet record).
300 hurdles: Individual: Darcy Cook (New Milford) 47.76. Team: Pomperaug (Isabella Azar-Brandes, Lissandra Marshall, Marina Lambiase) 2:31.11.
4×100: Windsor (Cori Richardson, Tia Marie Brown, Camille McHenry, Athena Camacho) 49.93.
4×800: Ludlowe (Paige Davis, Lauren O’Neil, Keegan Simonsen, Alyssa Kraus) 9:41.02.
1,600 sprint medley relay: Danbury (Natalee Seipio, Lauren Moore, Shakira Rosario, Abigail Copeland) 4:17.93.
4×400: Windsor (Jalah Cooper, Taylor Allen, Rachel Cleveland, Lauren Gilligan) 4:04.53.
2,000 steeplechase: Individual: Mary Bibbey (Nonnewaug) 7:35.01. Team: Trumbull (Alessandra Zaffina, Calyn Carbone, Margaret LoSchiavo) 24:05.38.
4×200: Hillhouse (Nyimah Ambrose, Nyia White, Jada Boyd, Ayesha Nelson) 1:42.48.
High jump: Individual: (tie) Olivia DiLascia (Greenwich), Kayla Clark (St. Joseph) and Megan Switzgable (Trumbull) 5-0. Team: Greenwich (DiLascia, Stella Perrier, McCallum Harkins) 14-4.
Pole vault: Individual: Stephanie Phoenix (Sheehan) 10-6. Team: Weston (Elise Russell, Sophia Rico, Rachel Esslinger) 26-0.
Shot put: Individual: Celyna Custodio (Danbury) 40-1. Team: Danbury (Custodio, Tanisha Cunningham, Celia-Ann Chikezie) 101-10.5.
Discus: Individual: Amanda Howe (Southington) 127-4. Team: Southington (Howe, Deborah Hannigan, Trinity Cardillo) 283-3.
Javelin: Individual: Yasmeen Dabrian (Shelton) 116-11. Team: Shelton (Dabrian, Jackie Simington, Sarah Ovesny) 297-7.
Triple jump: Individual: Rachel Fleischer (Derby) 36-10. Team: St. Joseph (Olivia Johnson, Kayla Clark, Nia Christie) 103-5.5.
Long jump: Individual: Meilee Kry (Danbury) 18-1.5. Team: Danbury (Kry, Erika Regus, Mikayla Hill) 47-10.
Middle school 800: Alanna Smith (Danbury Flyers) 2:30.17.
Distance medley relay: Staples (Benjamin Seiple, Tyler Wright, Christian Myers, William Landowne) 10:21.97 (meet record).
4×100: Danbury (Christopher Cledera, Malachi Lorick, Jaden Cazorla, Malik Thomas) 43.93.
4×800: Ludlowe (Ben Mellor, Colin Agostisi, Ethan Lovallo, Ian Bartlett) 8:13.27.
1,600 sprint medley relay: Weston (Andrew Oleynick, Kevin Stankiewicz, Matt Scott, Timothy Lautenbach) 3:39.15.
4×400: Danbury (Sean-Michael Parkinson, Malachi Lorick, Philip Melo, Glenroy Ford) 3:26.47
2,000 steeplechase: Individual: Eddie Nicholas (Nonnewaug) 6:31.89. Team: Nonnewaug (Nicholas, Elias Field, Greg Bastek) 20:53.10.
4×200: Danbury (Christopher Cledera, Jaden Cazorla, Nathaniel Mensah-Simms, Sean-Michael Parkinson) 1:30.62.
High jump: Individual: Chet Ellis (Staples) 6-6. Team: Staples (Ellis, Gerard Van Spaendonck, Connor McGeehan) 16-10.
Pole vault: Individual (tie) Zachary Burleigh (Southington), Nathaniel Llanos (Danbury) and Aiden Jasinski (Newtown) 12-6. Team: Darien (Kayin Chisolm, Henry Vossler, Kieran Daly) 35-6.
Shot put: Individual: Michael Neary (Darien) 49-10. Team: Bloomfield (Aaron Williams, Nick Campbell, Nyran Gracia) 135-1.
Discus: Individual: Khaled Elmady (Brookfield) 150-0. Team: Derby (Brian Jalowiec, Tristan Pruzinsky, Isaiah Colon) 340-5.
Javelin: Individual: James Day (New Milford) 155-4. Team: New Milford (Day, Andrew Grinnell, Anthony Bauso) 415-0.
Triple jump: Individual: Jack Jones (Trumbull) 45-8. Team: Derby (Javan Guevara-Cragwell, Cody Fleischer, Isaiah Walker) 124-4.
Long jump: Individual: Jack Jones (Trumbull) 21-9. Team: Trumbull (Jones, Isaiah Johnson, Ryan Cranston) 57-0.75.
Middle school 800: Gary Moore (Connecticut Hawks) 2:21.83.
Mixed 800 sprint medley relay: Windsor 1:35.64.