NEW HAVEN — When the members of the Greenwich High School girls indoor track and field team reflect on their high school days years from now, they will, no doubt, remember its special 2017-18 season when everything just kept getting better.
They will remember this season as the winter in which they captured the triple crown — the State Open, Class LL and FCIAC titles — and made program history in the process.
One week after winning its first Class LL championship, this season’s Greenwich squad added to its great legacy, claiming its first State Open title on Saturday at Hillhouse High School’s Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Receiving impressive performances in each event, the Cardinals totaled a team score of 56 points. Danbury was the runner-up with 32 team points, followed by Hillhouse (28), Hamden (28), Bloomfield (25) and Fairfield Ludlowe (20).
“Our team performed great the last two weeks and they were great again today,” Cardinals coach Evan Dubin said. “They lived up to the hype and to their expectations. To see the hard work our team has put in over the years come to fruition feels so amazing.”
Said GHS senior standout Emily Philippides: “First FCIACs, then LLs, now the State Open — the season keeps getting better and better. Four years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that we would have accomplished so much. All the hard work we put in has paid off.”
Philippides provided the Cardinals with their first individual victory of the meet, winning the 1000-meter run in 2 minutes, 58.08 seconds.
“It’s definitely not my fastest time, it’s eight seconds off my personal-record time, but I’m just focusing on placing as high as I could and scoring points for my team,” Philippides said of her victory.
Danbury junior Cassandra Sturdevant was the runner-up in the 1000-meter run (3:04.13).
“I’m really happy with my time after getting off to a rough start,” Sturdevant said. “I settled into the race and I knew I had to push hard to finish near the top. I ended up with a personal-record time, so this feels amazing.”
Fairfield Ludlowe senior Alyssa Kraus placed third in the 1000 (3:04.81), Jacqueline Guerra of Guilford was sixth and Julia Ozimek from New Canaan finished seventh.
“It was my best race of the season, I felt so good during the race,” Kraus said. “I just tried to keep pace with the top runners and as the race went on, I felt I had a really good pace. The competition was awesome.”
Greenwich’s second individual win came from senior Genevieve DeWinter, who crossed the finish line first in the 600-meter run (1:35.93).
“After winning the FCIAC and LL championships, winning the State Open today is the cherry on top for our team,” DeWinter said. “This was definitely a great way to end my senior track career. I’ll never forget this season.”
Nyia White of Hillhouse was second in 1:36.94, while Emma Langis from Ridgefield finished third (1:37.23).
“It was challenging to keep pace, but I’m happy with how I ran,” said Langis, a sophomore. “After the first two laps, I started to run faster and I feel good with where I finished. It’s so exciting to be here at the State Open at Hillhouse. Our team is so supportive of each other, which makes us do better.”
Laura Turner of Norwalk was fourth in the 600 (1:37.71), while Leah Sarkisian took fifth (1:37.89). The meet ended with Greenwich senior Lia Zavattaro placing second in the pole vault with a distance of 11-06. Tyra Finkeldy of Old Saybrook won the pole vault with the same distance, but got to 11-06 on less attempts.
“Today was crazy, I did not expect a performance like that,” Zavattaro said. “I’m surprised I did so well — the competition was amazing.”
Zavattaro was thrilled when she cleared 11-06.
“I can’t describe how happy I was,” Zavattaro said. “I felt my teammates being here and cheering me on helped me so much. That was so important to me. I’ll never forget this season and this team. I’ll definitely come back to watch them next year.”
The 1600-meter run saw Danbury junior Lauren Moore cross the finish line first in 5:07.21.
“For a while the race was really close between a lot of people,” Moore said. “At the 400-meter mark I knew I had to make my move. The other girls in this race were amazing. It feels great to win this race at the Open.”
Weston senior Kathleen Murphy got the second place medal in the 1600 (5:08.76), while Taylor Mascetta of Immaculate was third (5:09.96). Angela Saidman of Immaculate was fifth in 5:11.09 and Meghan Lynch from Greenwich finished sixth (5:17.73).
“I have never been in this situation before, so I was just hoping to do well and get a good time,” Murphy said. “I was able to run with the leader the last 250 and then take the lead. This was a great experience for me.”
In the 300-meter run, Hamden senior Aisha Gay claimed the State Open title, posting a time of 39.56. Jillian Mars of Bloomfield was second in 40.16.
“Being patient was the key for me,” Gay said. “I followed my race plan that I put out this week, I kept my energy up and I was able to take it home. The competition in this race pushed me to run my personal-best time and win.”
The Cardinals’ other win in the meet came in the 1600 sprint medley relay. The foursome of Olivia Caan, Maggie O’Gorman, Zoe Harris and Philippides garnered the first-place medal in 4:18.18.
“We put all our trust in Emily, we knew she was going to put us in a great position to win,” O’Gorman said of Philippides. “This has been an amazing season for our program. Winning FCIACs, LLs and the State Open shows how much work we put into the season.”
The Cardinals placed sixth in the 4×200 relay, then took second behind Glastonbury in the 4×800 relay (9:32.19). Brien McMahon finished third in the 4×200 relay with a time of 1:46.90.
“Our team has always had good relays that execute really effectively,” GHS senior Hetty McMillan said. “That’s helped us have so much success in our relay events.”
Freshman Tess Stapleton of Ludlowe captured the 55 hurdles title in 8.36 seconds, while Day of Hamden was the 55 dash winner (7.16). Moore of Danbury took fourth in the 3200 run.
Kisha Francois of East Haven won the Long jump (16-11.50), while Amanda Howe of Southington was the shot put champion (40.07.50).
Greenwich’s 4×400 relay team of Harris, DeWinter, Philippides and Jordan Numme, finished the meet by registering a second-place finish (4:03.28). Hamden crossed the finish line first, clocking in at 4:01.05
“For our team to perform so well on a big stage with the lights shining bright, says a lot about them,” Dubin said. “They not only showed the physical talent to win this meet, they displayed a lot of mental toughness. Everyone stepped up today.”