The Southern Connecticut Conference indoor track championship meet on Friday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center will have a traditional feel for some teams, but others are looking to make some noise for the first time in a while.
On the girls side, Mercy and Hillhouse, winners of five of the last six SCC championships, are once again in prime position to make a run at the conference title as they each won their respective sectional meets last week and return strong competitors from recent years.
As for the boys, a couple teams who have been lurking around the top might finally get to take a picture with the SCC banner once again.
Hamden and Shelton, the two sectional winners have not tasted victory in a while. Hamden not since 2010 and Shelton since – ever.
“The SCC meet is always a challenging one to win,” Hamden boys coach Bryce Lindamood said. “But we’re hoping to do our best for sure.”
Last week at the Western Sectional meet in New Haven, Virgil Harrel won the 300 meters and also played a part in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays to help the Green Dragons run away with the title at 124 points topping Wilbur Cross who came in at 89.
“We’ve traditionally been very strong in the relays,” Lindamood said. “We’ve always taken great pride in the relay events.”
Harrel has been a strong runner for Hamden since his freshman year, but this year is playing an integral part in the Green Dragons’ team success.
“Virgil just has to go out and do what he’s been doing since he was with us as a freshman,” Lindamood said. “You have kids that are rocket fast and you have kids that have good intuition, but Virgil has all those things and a great ability to move in a pack. When you’re in a relay situation at a big meet, Virgil is one of those kids that can move through the group which we started to see at the end of his freshman year, but he’s only grown bigger and stronger. That skill of moving through people and handing the stick off in the lead or take it to the finish is very hard to coach to someone.”
Harrel is not the only strong runner Hamden boasts this year. Stanley Arrington Jr. won the 55 meter sprint and was a part of the 4×200 and the sprint medley relay.
As for Shelton, Luke English is the top runner there. He won the 600 meters and came in second in the 300. His time of 1:23:93 was the best of the two sectional meets and will need to be good enough if he is to help Shelton win its first ever SCC indoor track title.
“The kid from Shelton in the 600 and 300 has been running fast,” Lindamood said. “They have some very good, strong kids. I would assume they would be favored. I believe the East is a little stronger than the West – it will be good, it will be fun. All of our kids are going to have to run well, throw well, jump well to place in their events.”
Mercy and Hillhouse have been two of the top girls teams indoors recently and this season is no different. The Tigers and Academics each won their respective tune-up meets and have strong runners heading into the finals.
Mercy’s Bridgid Selfors is probably the most recognizable name – and face – in SCC distance running this year and is the one to beat on Friday. She won the 1000, 1600 and 3200 meter races which means she could have placed eighth if she were her own team at the West Sectional meet.
“Any athlete that can get you 30 points is worth their weight in gold,” first-year Mercy indoor track coach Chuck Kuhn said. “She’s really put in the work to get to where she is now and she’s been a pleasure to coach.”
Selfors is great, but she isn’t her own team, she is part of the Tigers who have seen many strong athletes step up this year in what Kuhn thought would be a rebuilding year.
“We’re getting production from the younger athletes as well,” Kuhn said. “Which was a little surprising, but they’re very talented young athletes — we have a good combination of older, senior kids and young kids.”
In the field events, Mary Pitruzzello has been a very strong thrower for Mercy this year. She placed second in the West Sectional meet with a throw of 33 and a half feet.
“She’s been a rock for us,” Kuhn said. “She’s a real good influence on the team. Very upbeat, never misses practices hardly at all.”
Hillhouse excels is in the sprints and hurdles and also field events. The Academics are always a tough out and should be once again on Friday.
Hamden, Amity and Cheshire could also be a factor come Friday evening in New Haven.
“It’s the team that can put everything together,” Kuhn said. “From jumps to throwing to running that really has the best chance.”