Lyman Hall has relished being the underdog so far in the Southern Connecticut Conference boys’ indoor track season.
The Trojans were the surprise of the SCC East Sectional last week as they upset favored Hillhouse, 97-91. It’s the first time Lyman Hall has ever won the SCC East Sectional.
“I knew we had a chance,” Lyman Hall coach Dave Palmer said. “I thought we might lose by a point, but we rose to the occasion. And our kids definitely overachieved.”
But they’ll be the underdog again Friday afternoon in the full SCC meet, which will be held at 4 p.m. at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
Palmer figures Hillhouse is the favorite with Xavier second and his Lyman Hall squad third. Fairfield Prep is also expected to compete for the title.
“At the SCC East, we stood up and were motivated to do something we’ve never done before,” Palmer said. “Now we have to do it again. In order for us to win the SCC, everyone will have to show us what they are made of. What we did in the SCC East Sectional won’t be good enough to win at the next level.”
Lyman Hall will need to get repeat performances by a couple of winners in the SCC East meet. The biggest leap in the SCC East Sectional for the Trojans came from sophomore Mike Toppin, who went 21 feet, 11/2 inches to win the long jump. That was his career best, beating his old mark of 19-5.
“That’s a huge jump,” Palmer said. “We knew he had the talent, but we weren’t expecting 21 feet. That puts him in the top 10 in the state.”
Tylor Seamans, who was the other individual winner for Lyman Hall in the East Sectional, will be counted on to take the high jump again. He’s also the leadoff runner in the 1,600 sprint medley for the Trojans.
“He’s been pretty consistent in only his first year of indoor track,” Palmer said.
Lyman Hall will also be counting on Brian Olivera in the mile and the 3,200. He ran both five seconds faster than previously in the East Sectional.
On the girls’ side, Hillhouse is the clear favorite to repeat as the SCC champion.
Coach Gary Moore’s Academics won the SCC East by 50 points over Guilford, but will be pushed by Hamden and Wilbur Cross, who finished 1-2 in the SCC West Sectional.
Hillhouse will run a pair of girls who won multiple events in the East Sectional. Jada Boyd won both the 300- and 600-meter runs, while Ayesha Nelson won the 55-meter dash for the Academics and was part of the winning 4×200 sprint medley relays.
The Academics also have a pair of highly touted freshmen. Nyia White is currently ranked as the top freshman in the country in the 600 meters.
“She’ll make some noise,” Moore said. “She’s really talented.”
Moore’s daughter, Leah, is leading the SCC in the shotput as a freshman and is ranked fifth statewide. She could end up being the top seed going into the CIAC Class M meet.
“She’s made every final, from New York to Yale to Rhode Island,” Moore said. “She’s proven to be someone to be reckoned with.”