The Danbury boys outdoor track team has a history of starting strong each season and 2019 is no exception.
The Hatters are 6-0 following wins over Staples and Westhill on Tuesday. Danbury has also posted wins over Fairfield Warde, Greenwich, Bridgeport Central, and Fairfield Ludlowe. The Hatters also won the 39th O’Grady Relays last weekend.
Danbury coach Rob Murray credits a combination of factors for the team’s start.
“We are a very solid team on the track with our strong areas being sprints, mid-distance, distance and hurdlers,” Murray said. “The throws and jumps are coming along and providing the team with points at our dual meets.
“The weather has been tough to hit high marks, so we are hoping for warmer weather in May. Malik Thomas has lead the way for our sprinters. The hurdles have also performed well in the 110 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles, particularly Shay Fahsbender.”
Murray said Jaden Cazorla has also done well in the long jump and sophomore Gabriel Kwarteng “is making early strides in his 400 meter and 800 meter performances.
One of the strongest members of the middle distance runners is Malcolm Going in the 800.He is coming off wins in the indoor track season in the 600 at the CIAC State Open (1:21.40) and at the Class LL meet (1:24.01).
Going has committed to running for American University.
“Malcolm opens up his season this weekend at the St. Anthony Invitation at St Anthony High (Melville, New York) against a very competitive national level field of 800 runners,” Murray said. “This outdoor track season has really just started. We trained hard in April for fast times in May.”
Masuk starts strong, too
Ed Lucas took over the Masuk boys outdoor track team five years ago, and since he said the team has been on the rise and the numbers bear that out.
Over the last five years the team is 53-3-1, including 10-0 in the dual meet regular season in 2018. Masuk won the South-West Conference meet in 2016, were the runners up in 2018, and the CIAC Class MM champions in 2017. Masuk has also won the SWC Colonial Division the last 4 years.
This season, the Panthers are off to an 8-0 start and last weekend they won the medium school size division at the O’Grady Relays.
“The reason for our success is the kids have brought into the system,” Lucas said. “Older experienced kids help out the newer kids with drills, instruction, and other areas daily. We average about 85 boys on the team, so we have numbers to have quality kids in each event.
“Our coaches work well together and our main goal is to try to get every kid to improve throughout the year and throughout the entire time that they are with us.”
The Panthers are coming off three wins in a quad meet on Monday with victories over SWC rivals Bethel, Immaculate and Weston. Aidan McShane was among the top Masuk performers in the meet with wins in the 110 high hurdles (15.3) and the 300 intermediate hurdles (40.4).
Lucas said Conor Mahony (seventh in the 55 dash at the New England indoor meet) has been his top runner. He is the defending Class MM Champion in the 200. Mahoney has won the 100 and 200 in every meet he has run in this season. He also scores for the Panthers in the long jump. Austin Pompa (discus), Matt Resnick (SWC indoor champion in shot put) and Zach Minch (javelin) have given the Panthers strength in the throwing events.
Dylan Torok (SWC indoor high jump champion), Sean Vargas (long jump) and Jake MacFarlane (triple jump) contribute in the jumping events. MacFarlane and Isaiah Roberson, along with McShane, gives the team depth in the 110 and 300 hurdles. They recently won the hurdle relay at the O’Grady Relays on Saturday. Theo Gross, Roberson, Mahony, McShane and Steven Lee all rotate in the 4×100 relay and are about .5 seconds off qualifying for Outdoor National Meet according to Lucas.
“We are off to a great start and still have some tough teams to face on our league schedule in the upcoming weeks,” Lucas said. “Plus we are going to some high quality Invitationals (Middletown Invitational and Greater Hartford Invittional) the next few Saturdays. We set individual meet team and personal goals each week all hoping to get to where we want to be in the postseason.
“We would like to be one of the teams to contend for an SWC title when it is all said and done. But right now there are six teams (Weston, Newtown, Pomperaug, Bunnell, New Milford, Masuk) that on any given day could win it. Going to the Invitationals will allow us to see teams and athletes that we don’t normally see and will give us an idea of where we are in Class MM. We just take it one week at a time and constantly re-evaluate our goals for the year.”
Sam Chicha, Weston: He won the long jump (20-0.5) and the high jump (6-0) in wins over Immaculate and Bethel and a loss to Masuk.
Connor Visnic, Amity: He won the 1600 (4:28.3) and won the 800 (2:04.1) in wins over Shelton and Hillhouse.
Marzio Mastroianni, Branford: He won the 1600 (4:57), the 3200 (10:31) and the 800 (2:03) in a win over North Haven.
Chet Ellis, Staples: He won the triple jump (39-5) and the high jump (6-6) in a win over Westhill and loss to Danbury.
Ayesha Nelson, Hillhouse: She won the 100 (13.0), the 100 hurdles (16.45) and the 300 hurdles (50.15) in losses to Amity and Shelton.
Leah Moore, Hillhouse: She won the shot put (40-0) and the discus (108-5) in losses to Amity and Shelton.
Alanna Smith, Danbury: She won the 100 (12.40), the 400 (58.0) and the 200 (25.20) in a win over Fairfield Ludlowe.
Katherine Dennis, Foran: She won the 100 (13.7), the long jump (14-6) and triple jump (31-3) ibn a win over Hand.
MEET TO WATCH
Middletown Invitational, Middletown High, Friday and Saturday: The annual meet takes place on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the event is for underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) and begins at 3:30 p.m. On Saturday, the meet is for varsity competitors and starts at 1 p.m. with field events and track events start at 2 p.m. The meet director is Craig Lundell and is open to all CIAC teams in the state.