From Mari Noble’s winning performance in the 3200-meter run to Zoe Harris’ second-place finish in the 1600 event, to three relays registering top-10 finishes, Greenwich had plenty to be proud of at Saturday’s Class LL Girls Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“Overall, I was happy with our performances,” said Cardinals first-year coach Casimir Loxsom, who arrived at Greenwich with a sparkling running resume. “We moved a lot of athletes to the state meet (State Open), which was the big goal. We’re a team that has solid, realistic goals going into some relay and individual performances at Nationals and New Englands. It’s always hard to come back the year after winning a big state title and following it up.”
The Cardinals captured the State Open, Class LL and FCIAC championships last season, but graduated an experienced group of athletes, including champion long distance runner Emily Philippides. Still, this winter’s squad has rapidly improved as the season progressed and the Cardinals proceeded to post an impressive sixth-place finish at Saturday’s CIAC Class LL Championships at Hillhouse High School’s Floyd Little Athletic Center.
“We have a lot of talented girls and we have talent coming up,” Loxsom said. “I am excited about the team going forward.”
Headlining Greenwich’s performance at the Class LL finals was Noble’s winning effort in the 3200-meter run. A sophomore, Noble won the event with a time of 11 minutes, 5.55 seconds, which of course, qualified her for Saturday’s State Open Championships.
Noble is in her first season on the indoor track team, after attending Greenwich Country Day School last year.
“Her base speed and base endurance are both very good and she’s super under trained, which is good,” Loxsom said. “I am trying to be very careful to progress her along in a timeline that makes sense. I think she is someone who has long term goals in the sport.”
Noble enters the State Open Championships, which is also at Floyd Little, seeded first in the 3200. She experienced some adversity on her way to crossing the finish line first in the 3200-meter run in the state finals.
“Mari is super tough, Thursday morning she went to the doctor with a fever,” Loxsom said. “She didn’t run Thursday, she didn’t run Friday and she just kind of showed up Saturday, went to the front and ran the race she needed to run.”
Zoe Harris, a junior, qualified for the State Open with an impressive second-place showing in the 1600-meter run, recording a time of 5:15.49.
“Zoe’s a very talented runner, she’s a natural at it,” Loxsom said. “She has great range and I think she’s going to run some incredible races in the next couple of weeks.”
Senior Caroline Webb, one of the girls team’s captains, had a fifth-place finish in the 3200 run (11:23.58) as the Class LL meet, which advanced her to the State Open, where she is seeded sixth.
“The season has been a blast for me, it’s been really exciting,” Webb said. “It’s only my second year competing in indoor track and as a captain this year, it’s nice being one of the leaders of the team.”
Webb also finished 12th in the 1000-meter run (3:17.38).
“Caroline is a multi-sport athlete, who is really strong, races really tough and is a smart race,” Loxsom said. “She’s in a good spot to run faster.”
Junior Jada Williams seventh-place finish in the long jump (16-07.25) qualified her for the State Open (seeded 11th).
Senior Jordan Numme, also a team captain, registered a fifth-place finish in the 300-meter run at the LL finals, clocking in at 43.53 seconds.
Greenwich’s 4 x 200, 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relay teams each earned spots in the State Open with their standout efforts at the Class LL Championships.
The 4 x 200 relay squad of Williams, senior Katie Large (captain), senior Abril Martinez-Arraya and Numme placed fifth (1:49.32) at the Class LL meet and go into the State Open competition seeded 11th.
Senior captain Cameron Castelli, Numme, junior Demi Janis and Harris were the runner-up to Glastonbury in the 4 x 400 (4:09.58) and have the sixth-seeded time for the State Open.
In the 4 x 800 relay at the Class LL finals, Bailey Gordon (sophomore), Lauren O’Donnell (senior), Eadaoin Clarke (sophomore) and Grace Collier (sophomore) moved on to the Open with a 10th-place finish (10:10.22).
“Three of our four relays got into the State Open, which is great,” Loxsom said. “I’m really excited for the relays. They have been putting in the effort every single day.”
The 27-year-old Loxsom is no stranger to the Connecticut track scene. He starred on the Wilbur Cross High School track and field team and still owns the Connecticut State indoor 600-meter run record.
After graduating from Wilbur Cross, he had a distinguished running career at Penn State University, then became a professional runner for Brooks Beasts Track Club.
He went on to break the American indoor record in the 600-meter run at the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2015, crossing the finish line in 1:15.33 — a record he also still holds.
This past October, Loxsom announced his retirement as a professional runner and soon, the Greenwich track coaching job became available.
Evan Dubin, who guided the GHS girls track team for 13 seasons, stepped down following a highly successful tenure and notified Loxsom of the open position through Instagram.
“Evan messaged me soon after I announced my retirement, so one door closes and another opens,” Loxsom said. “I took that as a sign.”
The Cardinals’ new coach is enjoying his role.
“This is my favorite job I’ve ever had in my life,” Loxsom said. “I’ve kind of always wanted to coach and I was still competing. I was young and had a big career ahead of me, but I was at the point where I was not getting enough work satisfaction out of just competing. Evan Dubin, coach (Bill) Mongovan and coach (Jeff Klein) have been a phenomenal help, along with our captains. They have really taken on significant leadership roles.
Webb said the team has learned plenty from Loxsom.
“He has a lot of expertise in running professionally,” Webb said. The knowledge he brings and dedication to the athletes is really exciting. At the State Open, we have a pretty good goal of just trying to qualify as many athletes to New Englands as possible. That’s the next step.”