NEW HAVEN >> At Tuesday morning’s practice, Gabby Curtis admitted she really didn’t know who the main competition was going to be at today’s State Open.
The same went for Wilbur Cross teammates Danae Rivers and Claudia Schatz. But it’s not from a lack of focus or attention. Actually, it’s just the opposite.
“Our approach is go do your job and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing,” Curtis said.
The same can be said for Hillhouse’s boys team. The Academics’ game plan has always been based on execution and performance.
“My theory and philosophy has always been if we come in and we do what we’ve been doing, we’ll be fine and we’ll be successful,” Hillhouse coach Gary Moore said.
Starting today at 10 a.m. at the Floyd Little Athletic Center, the Cross girls and Hillhouse boys have a chance to bring home the top hardware. The Governors, who won the Class L state title last week, will be vying for their second straight Open crown.
The Hillhouse boys won the Southern Connecticut Conference and Class M state titles and are looking for their first Open title since 1997.
“We’re coming off last week’s win and trying to keep the momentum going, I guess,” Schatz said. “You can’t control what other people do. We just don’t want to get knocked out of the spots we had last week.”
Cross will be challenged by Class M champion Tolland and FCIAC champion Staples. Cross is seeded in the top three in four events.
Rivers is seeded third in the 1,000 and second in the 1,600. Curtis holds the top-seeded time in the 55 hurdles and will run in the 300. Both run on the 4×400 relay which comes in with the second-fastest seeded time of 4:05.40.
“We have nine girls and Danae and Gabby; they’re going to do their part. We’ll see if we can maybe steal points in the 1,000, in the 600, in the 300,” Cross coach Travis Gale said. “It’s going to be a great meet for a coach, an athlete, for a spectator, because there are so many possibilities.”
For the Hillhouse boys, it’s been a season of consistency. After scoring just two points last year at the Open, a more committed group has emerged this year.
“It’s a reliable group of guys who come into practice, work hard and do what they’re supposed to do,” Moore said. “They are doing the little things.”
Added senior Akiel Smith: “We are taking it seriously and we are all working hard at practice.”
Hillhouse has a well-rounded group that features one of the most talented and deep crews on the track. The Academics are ranked in the top five in five of the fifteen events, led by Smith, who has a chance to win the 55, 300 and runs on the 4×4 which is seeded second (3:29.07).
The Academics have a chance to gain big points in the 300 — their premier event, in which they are seeded first, third and 11th.
“That will be the key for us, the depth that we have and the quality in that event,” Moore said.
Smith is seeded first in the 300 (35.19) and teammate Tyreise Swain Jr. is third (35.49). Darius Wise has a chance to move up spots for the Academics and score as well.
“That’s the thing that’s going to come in big for us,” Smith said. “Having three guys that can compete in the 300 is really good.”
Both squads agreed that they are looking forward to the opportunity Saturday presents.
“I wish I could go back from the start and do the season over again, because it’s been really great,” Smith said. “Not a lot of teams have the opportunity to say they won a championship on their home track, and for us that’d be really special.”
Said Curtis: “I’m really excited because we have a chance of being State Open champs again.”