Under hot and humid conditions at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro late Sunday afternoon, the game plan for Danae Rivers was to just go out hard.
In a talented 800-meter field that featured multiple top 20 runners in the nation, the junior from Wilbur Cross was able to battle the entire two laps and use her fresh legs to have a strong kick.
Rivers finished in third place in a time of 2 minutes, 8.31 seconds.
“It was unavoidable, the heat and humidity, I think that affected pretty much the whole field,” Cross head coach Nally Sahin said. “It came down to a kickers race.”
The winner was Sammy Watson of Rush-Henrietta (New York) in 2:07.02.
Rivers, who was recently named the Connecticut Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, earned her highest individual finish at the national meet for her track career. She received All-American accolades for her top-six finish.
“I am absolutely proud of her,” Sahin said. “She has already accomplished so much already this year so for her to cap her junior year at nationals and get on the podium and place third, I’m very proud.”
Rivers finished the season with the eighth fastest time in the country of 2:05.86, which she set at the New England Championships last weekend in Maine.
Other locals who placed well included the Coginchaug girls’ distance medley relay squad of Sam Drop, Bailey Thayer, Jessica Drop and Allie Alsup, who won the emerging elite category in a time of 11:57.06, setting a new national emerging elite record.
Jessica Drop also won the emerging elite girls’ 1 mile in a time of 4:57.05.
State-wide, the Tolland girls’ relays dominated. The 4×1 mile squad of Caitlin Swanson, Katherine DeLoreto, Courtney Akerley and Kelsey Swanson ran to a second place finish and unofficial state record time of 20:17.87. The distance medley relay placed fourth (11:55.66).
Also over the weekend, McMahon’s Eric van der Els finished in third place in the 5,000 (14.41.05) and Darien’s Army Noonan finished sixth in the 2 mile (9:05.82).
In the relays, the Danbury boys’ 1,000 sprint medley Swedish relay captured fifth (1:58.30), while both the Windsor boys and girls had a strong showing.
The Windsor boys’ 4×2 placed sixth (1:27.41) and set an unofficial state record, and finished third in the 800 SMR (1:31.74), while the girls’ 800 SMR was third (1:45.74).
The Weston boys’ 4×4 was fifth (3:17.27) and the Trojans nabbed fifth in the 800 SMR (1:32.61).
The Ridgefield boys’ 4×8 captured third (7:44.27).
All state-wide teams mentioned above competed in championship level and received all-american status.