The home stretch is in sight for the Best of the CIAC Network summer project. The first two parts of our series (part 1 & part 2) took on fall championship moments, while part 3 & part 4 moved on to the winter. Now the spring sports get their moment in the sun, and as the most recent championships these could be fresher in the mind. And it is fitting that a finish line is mentioned because today’s segment deals mostly with track & field, with some others added in. With five class championships and the State Open for boys and girls, track & field provided more opportunities for memorable moments than nearly any other sport. For purposes of simplicity, we’ve focused on the State Open and the various incredible competitions provided at that meet — and with so many choices we were unable to narrow it down to just
GIRLS OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD:
Outstanding performances were all over the place on the girls side in the State Open, but the distance events provided remarkable moments consistently throughout the day. In the 1,600 Danae Rivers of Wilbur Cross set a blistering pace and seemed in position to lead from start to finish. That is before the trio of Claire Howlett (Westhill), Hannah DeBalsi (Staples) and Cait Allen (Fairfield Warde) made their moves and provided a remarkable finish.
Howlett and DeBalsi were not done thrilling the crowd as the pair then proceeded to turn the 3,200 into a one-on-one dual. The junior Howlett and the freshman DeBalsi were stride-for-stride for virtually the entire race, before one of them made a big move on the final lap to earn the win and set a new meet record in the process.
The girls then provided a thrilling conclusion to the day with a last lap of the 4×400 relay that saw Norwich Free Academy and Tolland separated by the slimmest of margins.
Time for a brief interlude from Track & Field with a spectacular moment from the class L boys volleyball final. Staples entered the class L championship match on an enormous roll, but then lost a tight set to open the match against Glastonbury in the final. The Wreckers (in white in the clip) then began to see a big lead slip away in set number 2, before this play featuring numerous standout defensive efforts stemmed the tide and propelled the squad to a title.
BOYS OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD:
David Campbell of Bloomfield had himself a day at the State Open. He picked up a victory in the 100-meter dash, leaning past the competition to earn the win by .05 seconds. Apparently he decided that wasn’t enough as he held off a late charge in the 200-meter dash, making him one of only three competitors to win multiple events at the Open, and helping Bloomfield pull out a narrow team title.
Much like the girls, the boys also provided plenty of drama in the final event of the day. The final heat of the 4×400 relay was spectacular with New Britain, Staples, and New Fairfield battling down the stretch and all finishing within .27 seconds of each other. But the winning time actually came in the previous heat when Middletown and Windsor battled back-and-forth throughout the race, including the lead changing hands several times in the final 100 meters.