The CIAC State Open Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Floyd Little Athletic Center. Note: The time was moved up to 10 a.m. from noon due to weather forecasts.
Here’s a guide on teams and athletes to watch and what many coaches across the state view as the premier event.
3 girls teams to watch
- Tolland: The Eagles won the program’s first CCC title and then followed that up with a strong statement at the state meet, winning the Class M crown. What makes Tolland a threat for the title? Led by Caitlin Swanson, the Eagles have numbers in the distance events and enter the Open with the top 1,600 sprint medley relay time of 4:16.24. Tolland’s Jenny Jacobs brings some balance as she’s capable of a big mark in the long jump, she’s seeded fourth (17-03.25).
- Staples: The Wreckers won the FCIAC Championship and finished runner-up to Glastonbury for the Class LL title. They were the Open runner-up last year and didn’t lose many members. Standout distance runner Hannah DeBalsi will score points in the 1,600 and 3,200. What makes Staples a threat for the title? The Wreckers have two of the top four seeded spots in the high jump with Elizabeth Knoll and Bridget van Dorsten and could score as many as 18 points in the one event. Knoll has a chance to collect points in the long jump as well. The Wreckers are seeded second in the SMR (4:21.61).
- Wilbur Cross: Cross enters the meet as the reigning Open champ. The Governors lost a few of the top names from last year, but that hasn’t slowed them down. Cross finished third at the SCC Championships, but then won the Class L title in a balanced effort. What makes Cross a threat for the title? Junior Danae Rivers has a shot to win two individual events, the 1,000 and 1,600. Junior Gabby Curtis comes in with the fastest hurdle time. Cross also has the second fastest 4×400 time with Rivers as the anchor. If Cross can move up a few spots in a some events, they could be in contention for a second straight title.
3 boys teams to watch
- Hillhouse: The Academics have been the epitome of consistency as they come into the Open winning the SCC Championship and Class M state title. Hillhouse has individuals with seed placements in five of the 15 events in the top 5. What makes Hillhouse a threat for the title? Hillhouse is led by senior Akiel Smith who has has potential to place or win in the 55 dash, 300 and on the 4×400. The Academics enter with two of the three top times in the 300. They also have the second fastest time listed in the 4×4 (3:29.07).
- Windsor: The Warriors come into the Open as the CCC and Class L champions. They scored 85 points to beat out Darien for the L crown last Friday. What makes Windsor a threat for the title? Windsor may have the strongest relays in the state. They have the top seed time in the 4×200 (1:31.13), third in the 4×4 (3:31.07), sixth in the 4×8 (8:22.53) and second in the 1,600 sprint medley (3:41.98). Kyshawn Bonner (55 dash) and Courntney Rush (300) will be factors in the sprints, while Rush could get some big points in the long jump.
- Danbury: The Hatters are the defending Open champion and come into Saturday as the FCIAC and Class LL champions. While Danbury may not score in the sprints, they have a chance to gain points in the relays. Danbury holds the second fastest 4×8 seeded time (8:16.52) and are ranked sixth in the SMR (3:45.82) and could move up in the other two. What makes Danbury a threat for the title? The Hatters can score big points in the field as Mike Morrow (6-4) is ranked second in the high jump and teammate Leland Roberts comes in with the fourth highest pole vault (13-06).
Top 10 athletes to watch
- Joseph Fogarasi (Windham): Fogarasi enters as the state leader in the pole vault at 15-7. He set a Class S record last week, clearing 14-9. He could break the state record of 15-9.75. He’ll be pushed by Hand’s Ian Bergere, Chris Rough of Westhill and Leland Roberts of Danbury.
- Mark Doyley (Weaver): State leader in the 55 dash, comes in with the second best seeded time in the 300. The sophomore could win both titles.
- Akiel Smith (Hillhouse): The Hillhouse senior has had a special season that could conclude with three titles. Smith ranks second in the 55 dash (6.50), first in the 3,00 (35.19) and runs on the 4×400 that is seeded second (3:29.07).
- Brian Gendron (Morgan): Won the Class S 600 title, Gendron is seeded third going into the 600 (1:23.64). He also runs the anchor on the SMR (3:42.97) that is seeded fourth.
- Alex Ostberg (Darien): The Stanford-bound senior is the top seed in the 1,600 (4:22.01) and 3,200 (9:29.02) and runs on the 4×8 (8:19.62). The state record for the 3,200 (9:07.63) and 1,600 (4:13.29) could be in jeopardy if Ostberg decides to pursue one of them Saturday.
- Anthony Bravo (Staples): The nationally ranked long jumper is one to watch. He comes in as the top seed in the event (23-05). He also has the top seed in the high (6-4). He will be running the 55 dash as well.
Eric van der Els (Brien McMahon): Could be labeled the dark horse of the distance events. He won the FCIAC 1,600 title with a strong finish (4:19.98). Seeded fourth in both the 1,600 and 3,200, the junior won both titles at the Class LL meet.
- Tyreise Swain Jr. (Hillhouse): The sophomore has the opportunity to score critical points for the Academics. He’s seeded third in the 300 (35.49), listed to run on the 4×2 and 4×4.
- Paul May (Bloomfield):The Bloomfield senior leads a deep and talented crew in the shot put. He comes in with the top throw (53-05). May is coming off a Class S title where he won the event by more than two feet.
- Kyshawn Bonner (Windsor): Has the third fastest dash seed time of 6.50. The junior is listed on the 4×2 and SMR relays.
Top 10 athletes to watch
- Alethia Moore (Hillhouse): Senior sprinter set a Class M record last week going 7.14. She could dip even lower Saturday. Moore also will run in the 300 and 4×4 that is seeded third (4:07.40).
- Danae Rivers (Cross): Will contend for a 1,000 and 1,600 title. She set the 1,600 (4:52.2) state record last year at the Open. The junior will also run the anchor on the 4×4 that is seeded second (4:05.40).
- Jessica Drop (Coginchaug): Drop set a Class S record in the 1,000 (2:55.10) and 4×8 (9:34.99). Drop has a chance to easily go under 2:55 and could challenge for the Open record (2:53.01) and possibly the overall state record of 2:51.31.
- Hannah DeBalsi (Staples): Comes in with a sub-five minute 1,600 time and has potential to drop near 4:55. Will be challenged by Rivers of Cross. The junior enters with the top 3,200 and could best her own state record in the event of 10:19.26.
- Gabby Curtis (Cross): Curtis has the top time in the 55 hurdles (8.48) and has been a consistent force all season. Curtis will also run the 300 and runs the third leg of the 4×4 for Cross that is seeded second.
- Jaliyah White (Hillhouse): White has a chance to leave her mark in a variety of events. She enters with the third fastest seed time in the 300 (40.96), seeded sixth in the hurdles (8.73) and will run the anchor on the 4×4 (4:07.40) that is seeded third.
- Leah Sarkisian (Danbury): Just a freshman, Sarkisian has the top seed time in the 600 (1:37.49). She’ll also run the anchor on the 4×4 and run on the SMR that is seeded sixth (4:23.27).
- Madeleine Schneider (Darien): Is the No. 1 pole vaulter in the state. Set a Class L record last week (11-8) and has a chance to break the Open record of 12-feet.
- Zoie Reed (Amity):Listed as the top seed in the long jump (17-10.50) the senior has the capability of jumping 18-plus feet. Reed is also seeded fourth in the 55 dash (7.33) and will run on the 4×2.
- Sashana Hinds (Windsor): Top seed in the 300 (40.26), the junior will be challenged by Anna Sulger of Darien. Hinds also runs the anchor on the fastest seeded time in the 4×4 (4:04.47).
What’s the best event to watch? Coaches from across the state weigh in
- Rob Murray, Danbury: I am looking forward to the boys pole vault with four having jumped 15-00 this year and all meeting for the first time on the same day we could see a very special jump and for the first time multiple boys over 15-00 on the same day.
- Tyson Kaczmarek, Darien: I’d say 4 x 4 — Fast heat has Weston, Hillhouse and Windsor — Meet might be decided in that race as all three teams could win overall.
- Kevin Connell, Branford: I have to go with Girls 1600: DeBalsi and Rivers again. One for the ages, they leave it all out on the track. Should be a great battle.
- Travis Gale, Wilbur Cross: The 4×400. It could be the icing on the cake for some teams, it could be a deal breaker for some, its the last event on the track and it will be exciting for both male and female teams! Very excited to see both races.
- Bryce Lindamood, Hamden: I am looking forward to the 4×200. Our guys have been working very hard to be successful in that event. They are hoping to break the school record 1:32.40.
- Peter Capezzone, Old Saybrook: The boys pole vault should prove to be very exciting with the possibility of 1-4 boys over 14-06 possibly 15-00!
- Brain Collins, Glastonbury: The girls 4X800: potential of a great 3 – 5 team race with times dropping drastically since lineup changes could be done for Open.
- Sean Mahon, Amity: I’m looking forward to the graceful and competitive girls high jump with the possibility of 3-5 competitors to soar over 5-4 and hopefully at least one with the opportunity of 5-6.