GHS girls’ track and field won the conference championship for a fifth consecutive season. The Guardians will now compete at the Class LL championships this weekend.
Glastonbury High School girls’ track and field won the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) championship for a fifth consecutive season, edging a strong field at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven on Jan. 28.
The Guardians scored 89 team points, holding off perennial powerhouses Bloomfield (87) and Windsor (61) to keep conference bragging rights in Glastonbury for a fifth straight winter.
Head coach Brian Collins said that the competition at the conference championships was particularly tight this season and the Guardians had to “dig down deep” to keep the streak alive.
“I couldn't have asked for anything more,” stated Collins. “They were aware of the teams in our conference and they knew it wasn’t a given. They stepped up and I couldn’t be more proud.”
All told, the Guardians scored in 10 of the 15 events at the conference clash.
Winning an individual conference crown was sophomore Brooke Strauss, who crossed the finish line first in the 1000 meters.
The Guardians also had a pair of relay teams that took first. The 4x800 relay team of Jackie Caron, Alex Edwards, Mikayla Nedder, and Kelley MacElhiney won, along with the Sprint Medley Relay team of Edwards, Jenna Fradin, Jackie Dudus, and Annika Paluska.
Many other Guardians had point-producing finishes that allowed the team to maintain their dominance over the conference.
MacElhiney (3200 meters) placed second, while Ava Gattinella (3200 meters), Paluska (600 meters), and the 4x400 relay team of Dudus, Edwards, Paluska, and Riley Carroll had third place showings.
Gattinella (600 meters), MacElhiney (1000 meters), and Strauss (1600 meters) each finished fourth, while Dudus (1000 meters), Lila Garbett (1600 meters), and Anna Morris (shot put) all placed fifth in their respective events.
However, the conference title ultimately came down to the pole vault where a pair of GHS vaulters sealed the championship in the meet’s final event.
Anna Hilary cleared a personal-best 10’00” to tie for second and Sarah Christina cleared 9’00” to finish fifth overall.
Heading into the event, the Guardians were down by eight points before the efforts of Hilary and Christina netted them 10 team points.
Collins credited the pair of vaulters for “coming up big at the exact right time.”
Last season, the Guardians literally and figuratively ran away with the 2022 CCC championship, besting runner-up Bloomfield by 55 overall points.
This year was different story as the team had to battle losing a pair of top-flight athletes in Zoe Spann-McDonald and Layla Spann-McDonald — who moved to Bloomfield in the summer — and various injuries throughout the winter.
“This is a special team. We had to overcome a lot,” said Collins, who said many of the GHS athletes were following on their phones as the results were unfolding in real time. “There was tension, but they were confident. They had confidence in their teammates and knew where we needed to excel.”
Since 2001, the program has been a pillar of consistency in the CCC, never placing outside the top three.
13 times they have won the conference championship; three times they have finished second, and six other times they placed third.
Collins credits the student athlete for “buying into the system” and creating a team environment that is both competitive and encouraging.
“We are fortunate to get the kids to put the time and effort in,” added Collins, who coaches the teams at GHS with Brian Gaudreau, Mark Alexander, Bob Gemske, Tom Cieslowski, and Rachel Peterson. “[The athletes] don’t rest on what they did last week or last month or three years ago. They are always looking to get better and give their best effort.”
The GHS boys finished third overall at the CCC championships, finishing behind only Hall and Windsor, and ahead of 21 other schools.
Harrison Krause placed second in the 3200 meters and fourth in the 1600 meters. Krause also teamed with Dominic Pena, Alexander Howarth, and Cameron Colletti for a fourth-place finish in the 4x800 relay. Pena, Deandre Williams, Jackson Boyd, and Benjamin Yalof placed fifth in the 4x400 relay.
In the field, Jonathan Wihbey tied for third in the high jump and Tye Karpicki threw a personal-best 44’06” to place fourth in the shot put.
Kalym Richards finished sixth in the long jump with a personal-best distance of 19’10.5”
Next up for the both the girls and boys team is the Class LL championship on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, starting at 4 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin