LITCHFIELD >> On a great day for track and field, Nonnewaug’s girls team continued an amazing march through 19-straight Berkshire League championships while Northwestern’s boys were happy to do whatever it took to stop Nonnewaug’s boys streak at four.
“Nineteen in a row,” Nonnewaug coach Arleigh Duff said after steering the team through all of them. “People don’t realize what the first team went through to establish our tradition. That’s almost two decades. And this one feels just as good as the first one.”
Northwestern coach Andy Campbell’s boys last won in 2007. This year’s win, he said, was all about teamwork.
“We had guys sacrificing a league championship to make sure they got points in all four events,” he said. “For most of them, it was just guys beating their seeds. If you were seeded No. 9 and moved up to No. 7, that’s where the points came from.”
It also took great performances from those at the top for both team champions.
Nonnewaug junior Alex Niez-Charest took three second places and a third last year. This year, she moved up to wins in the pole vault, 100 hurdles and triple jump and a second in the 300 hurdles.
“Alex was a beast today,” Duff said. “She was running all over the place to stay in all of her events.”
Tony Ortiz was the big gun for the Highlanders with wins in the 200 and 400 meters and a second in the long jump.
Like Niez-Charest for the girls, Ortiz also moved up from second places a year ago.
This year, he’s lost just one individual race, the 400 to fourth-place finisher Quinton Walsh from Shepaug.
Niez-Charest, meanwhile, is already hearing from college coaches as a junior. Ortiz heads for International University of Puerto Rico this fall to run track.
Nobody had a better individual day than Thomaston senior Sabrina Olsen. Already committed to Division I Syracuse, Olsen won the most grueling events — the 800, 1,600, 4 x 800 and the 3,200 — and came up smiling after every one of them.
“She had a great day,” said Thomaston coach Mark Olsen, Sabrina’s father. “The only one we worried about was the 800. People can come up from nowhere in that one, but she ended up setting a school record (2:21.19).”
“I asked my Dad if he wanted me to run (the 1,600) any special way and he said, ‘Just win,’” Sabrina said, laughing.
Mission accomplished. Olsen did her own worrying about the 4 x 800 relay.
“I knew the 4 x 8 was going to be tough against Nonnewaug,” Olsen said. “I just trusted my girls (Bryttnie Thomas, Becky Perugini and Sammi Breier) to run the times we needed and they did. It gave me a chance to go a little slower (as the anchor). But I still did one of my best times. I finished, smiling, because we did so great.”
Alex Gagne was Olsen’s counterpart on Thomaston’s boys team. Gagne gave up basketball as a senior to concentrate on track and field.
“I just liked track more,” said Gagne, who turned a winter working on his high jump and long jump into a first place in the long jump and javelin and second places in the triple and high jump Saturday.
Like Nonnewaug’s Niez-Charest, Gagne stayed busy. The boys long jump, javelin and triple jump all went on at the same time.
Gagne is heading for UConn, where he’s talked with the track and field coach about competing for the Huskies.
“He said my scores weren’t good enough yet, but I should try out,” said Gagne, who’s improved his long jump by seven inches, javelin by eight feet and triple jump by eight inches this year.
If he makes the team, he expects to compete in the decathlon. He won it last year in the BL.
“I’m going to be lifting a lot this summer to get ready,” he said.
Litchfield’s Chelsea Hayward swept the BL sprints — 100, 200 and 400 — and will take her speed to Division II Roberts Wesleyan College (Rochester, NY) this fall.
Like Thomaston’s Gagne, Hayward worked hard in the winter to get here.
“I got more focused for the big meets,” she said.
Lewis Mills sophomore Ailene Berry has two more years to focus and the prospects are awesome. She’s already the BL champion in the 300 hurdles and long jump. She ran first in the 100 hurdles before falling.
Litchfield senior Tyler Mowrey sacrificed some of his potential for the sake of his team. Like the Highlanders who did the same for their team, it paid off.
Mowrey won the 100 meters, then passed up the individual 200 meters to be stronger for Litchfield’s winning 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams.
“We needed the points,” he said.
The Cowboys finished second behind Northwestern. Litchfield’s 4 x 400 team or Mowrey, Jack Donovan, Spencer Persechino and Brandon Hookstadt broke a league record (3:28.93) set in 1977 when Brookfield was in the BL.
“We just never had everybody together before,” Mowrey said.
Nonnewaug junior Michaela Pernell strained a quad in the indoor season and laid up all season. Doctors allowed her back for one race Saturday.
“We picked the 4 x 100,” Duff said. The Chiefs won by almost two seconds.
Duff speaks for all the champions and coaches preparing for the next big challenge: state meets the first week of June.
“I want them to be big-meet ready and they are,” he said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Berkshire League Track & Field Championships
At Plumb Hill Fields, Litchfield
Girls: 1. Nonnewaug 179.33; 2. Housatonic 91.33; 3. Northwestern 86; 4. Thomaston 79.5; 5. Shepaug 76.33; 6. Litchfield 56.5; 7. Lewis Mills 54; 8. Wamogo 35; 9. Terryville 24; 10. Gilbert 17.
Boys: 1. Northwestern 194; 2. Litchfield 126.5; 3. Lewis Mills 100; 4. Nonnewaug 87.5; 5. Thomaston 85; 6. Shepaug 38; 7. Gilbert 22; 8. Housatonic 18; 9. Terryville 16; 10. Wamogo 13.
100 meters: 1. Chelsea Hayward, Litchfield, :12.59; 2. Sara Velleca, Nonnewaug; 3. Erika Swartley, Northwestern. 200: 1. Hayward, Litchfield, :26.45; 2. Velleca, Nonnewaug; 3. Christina Sordi, Nonnewaug. 400: 1. Hayward, Litchfield 1:01.01; 2. Grace Valickis, Gilbert; 3. Morgan Jancowics, Wamogo. 800: 1. Sabrina Olsen, Thomaston, 2:21.19; 2. Brooke Neller, Wamogo; 3. Maureen McCarthy, Nonnewaug. 1,600: 1. Olsen, Thomaston, 5:14.20; 3. Emily Wingard, Nonnewaug; 3. Sammi Breier, Thomaston. 3,200: 1. Olsen, Thomaston, 5:14.20; 2. Wingard, Nonnewaug; 3. Breier, Thomaston. 100-meter hurdles: 1. Alex Niez-Charest, Nonnewaug, :16.20; 2. Maggie Dahill, Northwestern; 3. Samantha Gagne, Northwestern. 300 hurdles: 1. Ailene Berry, Lewis Mills, :47.01; 2. Niez-Charest, Nonnewaug; 3. Duhill, Northwestern. 4×100 relay: 1. Nonnewaug (Brynn Lawlor, Michaela Pernell, Velleca, Sordi), :51.79; 2. Shepaug; 3. Lewis Mills. 4×400 relay: 1. Shepaug (Kelsey Hall, Samantha Patrick, Margot Wilhelm, Kaitlyn Smith), 4:17.65; 2. Nonnewaug; 3. Northwestern. 4×800 relay: 1. Thomaston (Bryttnie Thomas, Breier, Becky Perugini, Olsen), 9:55.23; 2. Nonnewaug; 3. Northwestern. High jump: 1. Mae Mathews, Nonnewaug, 4-10; 2. Sam Moravsky, Shepaug; 3. Mary Claffey, Lewis Mills. Pole vault: 1. Niez-Charest, Nonnewaug, 9-0; 2. Wilhelm, Shepaug; 3. Hannah McGuire, Housatonic. Long jump: 1. Berry, Lewis Mills, 16-5.25; 2. Morgan Sederquist, Lewis Mills; 3. Gagne, Northwestern. Triple jump: 1. Niez-Charest, Nonnewaug, 32-7.5; 2. Mathews, Nonnewaug; 3. Neller, Wamogo. Shot put: 1. Katie Heacox, Housatonic, 36-3; 2. Abrah Toomey, Housatonic; 3. Thomas, Thomaston. Discus: 1. Toomey, Housatonic, 96-7; 2. Heacox, Housatonic; 3. Patricia McAllister, Northwestern. Javelin: 1. Moravsky, Shepaug, 111-8; 2. Toomey, Housatonic; 3. Kelly O’Halloran, Litchfield.
100 meters: 1. Tyler Mowrey, Litchfield, :11.32; 2. Mark Violette, Nonnewaug; 3. Jack Weber, Northwestern. 200: Tony Ortiz, Northwestern, :23.53; 2. Ranato Oliveira, Housatonic; 3. Quinton Walsh, Shepaug. 400: 1. Ortiz, Northwestern, :50.98; 2. Jack Kingdon, Nonnewaug; 3. Luke Molinaro, Nonnewaug. 800: Jack Donovan, Litchfield, 2:02.03; 2. Sean Bodnar, Nonnewaug; 3. Michael Mudgett, Lewis Mills. 1,600: 1. Mudgett, Lewis Mills, 4:33.84; 2. Vincent Pistritto, Nonnewaug; 3. Matthew Mona, Northwestern. 3,200: 1. Pistritto, Nonnewaug, 10:01.26; 2. Mona, Northwestern; Jackson Morrow, Lewis Mills. 110 hurdles: 1. Dillon Neumann, Lewis Mills, :15.74; 2. Ryan Bertoli, Northwestern; 3. Brandon Hookstadt, Litchfield. 300 hurdles: Hookstadt, Litchfield, :41.94; 2. Neumann, Lewis Mills; 3. Seth Abbott, Thomaston, :42.96. 4×100 relay: 1. Litchfield (Mowrey, Spencer Persechino, Blaise Pope, Chris Ray), :45.28; 2. Northwestern; 3. Gilbert. 4×400 relay: 1. Litchfield (Donovan, Mowrey, Persechino, Hookstadt), 3:28.93; 2. Nonnewaug; 3. Northwestern. 4×800 relay: 1. Thomaston (Noe Gaudette, Trevor Daigle, Luke McMahon, Seth Abbott), 8:23.35; 2. Lewis Mills; 3. Nonnewaug. High jump: 1. Jacob Jeffko, Northwestern, 6-2; 2. Alex Gagne, Thomaston; 3. Persecchino, Litchfield. Pole vault: 1. Neumann, Lewis Mills, 13-0; 2. Eric Bailey, Northwestern; 3. Pope, Litchfield. Long jump: 1. Gagne, Thomaston, 20-1.5; 2. Ortiz, Northwestern; 3. Austin Dieck, Litchfield. Triple jump: 1. Evan Dolecki, Northwestern, 41-10; 2. Gagne, Thomaston; 3. Dan Escedy, Nonnewaug. Shot put: 1. Mike D’Arcangelo, Thomaston, 44-3.5; 2. James Wortman, Lewis Mills; 3. Mowrey. Discus: 1. Wortman, Lewis Mills, 131-9; 2. Ian Wilson, Gilbert; 3. D’Arcangelo, Thomaston. Javelin 1. Gagne, Thomaston, 139-4; 2. Carter Thorne-Kaneulis, Northwestern; 3. Palmer Piana, Northwestern.