BOSTON >> Danae Rivers decided to run the 1,000 meter event at the New England Indoor Track and Field Championships because it was something different.
The Wilbur Cross junior middle distance runner, known more for her achievements in the mile than 1,000, made the right decision.
Friday evening at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Boston, Rivers turned in a blazing time of two minutes and 49.68 seconds to win the event and set an unofficial state record.
“The competition today was awesome,” Rivers said with a smile.
Rivers unofficially broke Sarah Gillespise of Northwest Catholic’s state record of 2:51.31, set in 2012. Rivers said she saw the time last night and decided to go for the record.
“It feels great, the hard work has paid off,” Rivers said.
Teammate Gabby Curtis, who didn’t even make the final of the 55 hurdles last year, had a strong showing. The junior finished in second place in 8.38 seconds.
“I broke under 8.4 this season and accomplished all my goals,” Curtis said. “It’s actually really amazing. I really see all the work I put in now. I’ll be back next year trying to win.”
Rivers, Curtis and teammates Leah Rivers and Claudia Schatz added a third place finish in the 4×400 relay (3:59.81).
Last spring, West Haven’s Brandon Sebastian narrowly missed out on advancing to New Englands. This year, the sophomore not only qualified but won. Sebastian broke out an impressive 23-4 foot jump to win the long jump title.
“It was really exciting,” Sebastian said. “I just wanted to PR coming in, when I hit the board, I just felt like I had a good jump when I was in the air.”
Staples’ Anthony Bravo, who finished second in the long (22-01.50), had the biggest improvements of the day as he cleared 6-9 in the high jump, a personal best by five inches and a new school record.
“I’m really happy,” Bravo said with a smile.
In the distance events, Connecticut swept the 2 mile event as Darien’s Alex Ostberg and Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi collected wins.
Ostberg, who will run for Stanford this fall, bounced back from a second place showing at the State Open last weekend in the 3,200 to dominate the field.
Ostberg ran a new national No. 1 time of 9:00.58.
“I was pretty confident I could hold a fast pace whether it be by myself or with my teammate Army (Noonan),” Ostberg said. “The game plan was to go in and run fast, and go for the U.S. No. 1 time.”
Brien McMahon’s Eric van der Els finished second (9:08.67) and Darien’s Noonan was third (9:09.15).
On the girls’ side, DeBalsi was unchallenged as she easily won her third straight New England crown in 10:26.09.
DeBalsi, a junior, was happy with the win, but wanted a faster time.
“I know I can go harder,” DeBalsi said. “I think it’s more of a mental thing for me right now, waiting to like dig deep. I haven’t raced hard since Foot Locker (Cross Country Championships).”
In the 55 meter dash, Hillhouse senior Akiel Smith continued his impressive season, as he placed third, running a personal best time of 6.47.
“It feels great,” Smith said. “It shows that the hard work I’m putting in to be No. 3 in New England, that’s a pretty good accomplishment for me.”
Smith turned around and ran another personal best on the 4×4 relay (3:25.48) to finish fourth with teammates Brendon Stewartson, Tyreise Swain Jr. and Darius Wise.
Teammate Shawn Fletcher placed fourth in the 55 hurdles (7.63).
In the relays, Coginchaug’s girls’ 4×8 finished in third (9:24.17), behind a second place finish from Tolland (9:20.34).