After flourishing at the State Open Championships in New Britain, the University of New Hampshire was the next stop for the Greenwich High School girls track and field team, which showcased its skill at the New England Championships.
And once again, the Cardinals’ athletes returned home with plenty of hardware.
Greenwich’s 4 x 800-meter relay team claimed the gold medal at the New England competition, while senior Emily Philippides placed second in the 800-meter finals. The Cardinals’ 4 x 400-meter relay team also fared well, finishing fourth overall.
As in the State Open and Class LL championships, Greenwich began the meet by crossing the finish line first in the 4 x 800 relay. The foursome of senior Kate Ragone, senior Hetty McMillan, sophomore Zoe Harris and senior Emily Philippides claimed the title with a time of 9:17.42. Westerly (Rhode Island) placed second (9:20.59) in the event, which included 30 teams.
“We knew going into it that we were seeded first, so our goal was obviously, to win it,” said Philippides, an All-State, All-New England Team selection. “It was fun to be around teams that were also very good. We all did very well, with each of us having good splits.”
Ragone ran the lead-off leg of the relay in a personal-best time of 2:22. McMillan clocked in at 2:20, Harris ran a 2:20 and Philippides posted a time of 2:13.
“The end result was fantastic,” GHS girls track and field coach Evan Dubin said. “Going into the race, we knew we had the potential to win, but it wasn’t a forgone conclusion. Kate ran a fantastic lead-off leg, Hetty put us into first place and when Zoe handed off to Emily tied for first, we were in really good position to win the race. As long as Emily is in striking distance, it’s just a matter of her going out there and taking home the win.”
The State Open finals saw Philippides win the 800-meter title in 2:11.78 and the Cardinals’ standout registered the same time in Saturday’s New England meet — this time for a second-place finish.
In a finish featuring two All-American runners, Nikki Merrill of Portsmouth won the 800 in 2:11.52, with Philippides finishing a blink of an eye behind her in 2:11.78. Emma Sullivan (Shephard Hill Regional) was third in 2:11.89.
“I know the girl who came in first, she is very good, so it was nice to run with her,” said Philippides, who was selected as the CHSCA Athlete of the Year last week. “I just wanted to stick with her. It was a great race, the last 100 we were neck-and-neck.”
Said Dubin: “Like the State Open it was very windy, so the headwind the girls had to run into makes their time much more impressive. Emily ran a great race.”
In the 4 x 400 relay, freshman Sophia Bastek, Harris, junior Jordan Numme and Philippides posted a fourth-place finish in 4:01.06. Bloomfield had the winning time of 3:57.46, Windsor finished third in 4:00.86, Hamden was second (4:00.08) and Ridgefield took fifth (4:01.58).
“It was familiar territory for us, because we knew all the teams we were racing against,” Philippides said. “Overall, it was a good race.”
“The competition was very good for that race and our team rose to the occasion, running their second-fastest time of the season,” Dubin said.
Each of the Cardinals’ competitors in the meet earned All-New England Team honors. Now the next stop for Greenwich is the New Balance Nationals Outdoor, which takes place Friday to Sunday at Aggie Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T State in Greensboro, N.C.
The Cardinals will be represented by three sprint medley relay teams, two competing in the 1,600 event and one in the 800. Philippides will take part in the 800-meter race at nationals.
Philippides, McMillan, Ragone, Harris, Numme, junior Abril Martinez- Arraya, sophomore Jada Williams and junior Bea Edmonds will each travel to the New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
“This my fourth year at nationals and it’s always exciting and a lot of fun,” Philippides said. “I was so nervous the first time I went, but during my second appearance there, my nerves died down. Each time I’ve gone, I’ve gained more confidence in myself. I’m really happy with how my senior season on team has gone. I wanted to enjoy it and end high school on a good note and it really has been a great season.”
Added Dubin: “This is their reward for all the hard work they have put in all season. I want them to have fun at nationals and savor the moment.”