DANBURY—The Danbury girls track team has produced one standout after another since emerging as one of the top programs in the state over the past 20 years.
But distance runners at the elite level are something that don’t come around too often. State Open champions are few and far between.
Well until this year at least.
Enter junior Lauren Moore, who has emerged as one of the top distance runners in the state in one highly successful three-week span.
Moore captured the State Open title in the 1,600 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center last weekend. Moore, who also finished fourth in the 3,200 at the event, gave Danbury 14 points en route to a runner-up finish.
“I was just really proud of myself, you never really know what’s going to happen,” said Moore, who was seeded fourth for the event. “Winning the State Open is surreal, I guess; throughout the year having all these hard workouts get tough sometimes but it’s just persevering. I’m happy with my accomplishments but looking forward; happy for today and then being able to know there’s more to come.”
Moore is thriving during a breakout junior season for the Hatters; she swept the 1,600 at the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open and also won FCIAC and Class LL titles in the 3,200. Her 5:07.21 time in winning the State Open was a personal best.
“With her it’s not just the last couple of weeks, it’s a couple of years that she’s put in being a hard worker,” said girls coach Nick Fraticelli. “She gets everything out of her talent.”
She posted another strong effort Tuesday at the Eastern States Games, — held at The Armory in New York — where she ran a 5 minute, two second 1,600 anchor leg of the distance medley relay for the Hatters, who posted the No. 7 time (12:13.46) in the country to qualify for nationals.
Last outdoor season Moore set school records in the 1,600 and 3,000.
“She has a quiet intensity about her,” Fraticelli said. “She has a quiet unassuming confidence to her that’s sort of rare because (she) never gets flustered and she has a lot of trust in what we’re doing.”
Another big race for Moore lies around the corner in the 1-mile at the New England championships, set for March 3 in Boston.
“I’m really excited for it,” Moore said. “I’m excited that I’m just running the mile, so I just get to focus on that. Hopefully I’ll get sub-five (minutes).”
GOING, GOING, GONE
The boys squad continued their dominance as a third straight indoor State Open title was cemented by Malcolm Going, who won the 600 and helped a pair of relays (the 4×400 and 4×800) notch top-two finishes.
“It’s good to feel confident having a person be a contributing factor,” said Danbury coach Rob Murray. “Out of 44 points he contributed 10 on his own and with the (relays) he helped contribute 28, that’s more than 60 percent. He’s a team player first, always willing to do what’s best for the team whether it’s double or run relays.”
Going is quickly writing his name into the Hatters record books, too. He lowered his record time in the 800 at the Eastern States to a 1.53.99, good enough for a race win and a spot in the championship section at nationals.
It was also a win that grabbed the attention of college scouts.
“It felt really good, there was some great competition,” Going said. “The goal was to make nationals; the race plan was to just go with the guys because there was going to be some fast runners there; Just hope that the time would probably come.”
A former soccer player and swimmer growing up, Going — whose dad ran in high school and college — set freshman records in both the 400 and 800. Initially slowed by injuries his first two seasons, he’s beginning to come into his own as one of the top runners in New England.
“He does a great job running his races to win,” Murray said. “He really doesn’t worry about time, he worries about executing tactics. I think sometimes in high school, kids can sometimes get lost in times and forget that ultimately it’s a competition; you want to win first and foremost.”
Going was on last year’s 4×400 relay team that claimed an outdoor New England championship, and on the 4×800 team that won last indoor season. He will be one of the favorites in a highly competitive 600-meter run at New Englands; the state record was set last year by Trumbull graduate Tyler Gleen (1:19.52) at the event.
After that comes the 800 at the national meet, which takes place the following weekend at The Armory.
“I’m really looking forward because I have a good chance,” Going said. “The top five are all close to each other so it’s going to be a really good race. Nationals going to be a little harder; the top time is 1:51 so if I can drop a few seconds hopefully I’ll be able to get up there.”