NEW HAVEN >> Wilbur Cross track and field coach Travis Gale isn’t quite comfortable just yet with using the word “impressive” to describe Danae Rivers’ season so far.Partly because he knows there’s a lot more to come from the junior this season.
Saturday afternoon at Coxe Cage, Rivers was the only girl from Connecticut to win an individual event on the track at the Yale Classic. She cruised to a winning time of four minutes, 58.82 seconds in the mile.
“She liked kind of being with the group today in the first six laps,” Gale said. “But she’s comfortable, she’s healthy, her head is in a great place and she’s running really, really well, which excites me obviously for the future.”
Added Rivers: “I think it played out pretty well. I mean, I was expecting to have competition, which is always good to have. I wanted to stay relaxed and it was fun being here.”
Rivers led a strong showing from local athletes as the two-day meet featured teams from Washington D.C., Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
“I just knew today that I had to run hard because I knew that there was a lot of competition,” Hillhouse senior Jaliyah White said.
White finished in third place in the 300 (41.19) on Friday afternoon and Saturday took sixth in the 55 hurdles.
“I learned to stay calm and not let them get the best of me, because when I try hard, I can be on their level too,” White said. “I think I’m doing very well now. I ran my best time in the semis (8.55), so I think I’m on the right track.”
Also in the 55 hurdles, Cross’ Gabby Curtis finished in fourth (8.63) in the 55 dash, Hillhouse’s Alethia Moore was fifth and the Academics’ girls’ 4×200 relay placed third (1:44.78).
“The greatest thing with her is she’s healthy and she’s in a good place,” Gale said of Curtis. “I’m very proud of her. She didn’t let a bad finish in the semis affect her.”
On the boys’ side, Hillhouse’s Shawn Fletcher finished fourth (7.77) in the hurdles, Akiel Smith was fourth in the dash (6.51) and Seymour’s Austin Fraser ran a terrific 50.71 in the 400 for second place.
While Hillhouse sophomore Tyreise Swain said he could have ran faster in the 400, he finished ninth. He said the takeaways from the meet were simple.
“Work harder,” he said.
In the field events, Amity’s Zoie Reed finished third in the girls’ long jump (17 feet) and Cheshire’s Janaia Skibitcky was right behind in fourth (16-11).
Hand’s Ian Bergere (13-6) and Kyle Boling (13 feet) finished 3-4 in the boys’ pole vault. Shelton’s Laurel Bailey was third in the girls’ vault (10 feet). Mackenzie Mendygal of Sheehan was fifth in the girls’ shot put (34-11.50).
In Friday’s events, Smith won the boys’ 300 meters in 35.15 and Hand’s Caroline O’Neil placed second in the girls’ 300 (40.75).