Newtown Girls, New Milford Boys Rise to the Challenge

By Ryan Lacey

Mia Nahom wanted to go out in style with her final home meet in New Milford.

The star senior went Iron Woman on the field at the SWC Track and Field Championships on Tuesday afternoon, held on the Green Wave's newly-renovated track. And did she ever put on a show.
Competing across the short and long distances, Nahom -- who took the State Open title in the 1,600 during the indoor season -- cruised to wins in the 8,00, 1,600 and 3,200. The UConn-bound senior was by no means racing the clock, but her each of her opponents. 
Nahom waited patiently in all three of her victories, allowing another runner to set the pace before blowing by them on the bell lap.
"I was just waiting for the last lap, trying to get points," Nahom described. "Using the least amount of energy to get through the most was the game plan today. I think it's more fun in a meet like this; it's fun to run fast when you're chasing people."
Her efforts lifted the Green Wave to a second-place finish behind Newtown, which won many of the field events. The Nighthawks scored 148.50 points to New Milford's 122.50 to dethrone Weston's 11-year reign as SWC champions.  

Many of the standout athletes from across the SWC also participated in several events as teams searched for points from their stars. By the time the sun set, New Milford's (109 points) boys team claimed a first title since 2010 in a nail-biting triumph over Masuk (107) and Newtown (102) by a handful of points.
"This is such a special group and this was the culmination of seven years of work," New Milford coach Ryan Rebstock said. "I would always point at that banner that says 2010 SWC Champions, guys it's been seven years we have to get something done here. I think we had a little home magic today."

New Milford lurked in the top five for much of the afternoon, but didn't take the lead until the final possibility. The discus was the last event to complete and teammates Jacob Meadows and Craig Shanahan were down to their final throws. Something had to give, and both jumped a spot in the final standings to swing the entire meet.
"I'll be honest, I thought (we would finish) second or third because (defending champion) Masuk and Weston were going to be scoring a lot more points than us," said Shanahan, a senior. "It was crazy that it came down to the wire, and it was crazy that we won."
Shanahan also won the javelin throw and placed seventh in the shot put to earn 18 points for his team. 
"It's just great to win," Shanahan said. "All I care about is winning, I'm glad I could win with my friends."
Winning is what the Newtown girls squad achieved with a deep, balanced roster. Senior Annika Alexander won the discus for a second straight season and also took third in the shot put. Newtown posted a 13-0 dual meet record and Alexander said that provided confidence heading into the big event.

"I think it built our confidence," Alexander said. "It was our meet to lose today; so, we knew coming in if we performed we could win. We beat every team so we just had to do it today."
Newtown was lifted from the arrival of new coach Rich Marcello, who joined after serving as an assistant for Weston in the offseason. 
Teammate Makenna Cerney took top spot in the 300 hurdles, and also had fourth place finishes in the triple jump and 100 hurdles. Sophomore Carly Swierbut was a double winner as she took gold in both the 100 and 200 meter dash.
"It was absolutely amazing to win considering we've been working hard all season; this is what we wanted to do and we're finally doing it," Cerny said. "Personally it wasn't my best, but still a good outcome; I could have done better but it's the little points that matter."

For Nahom, her final competitive meet is one she will likely remember for years to come.
"This was so exciting; all day we were so excited," Nahom said. "There are so many people here, which is awesome. Last year we didn't have a track to train on at all; having it to train on and host SWCs is so exciting; we're trying to go for it as a team."

Several meet records were broken Tuesday, all on the boys side. Weston senior Stephen Tyler set a new mark in the 1,600, clocking in at 4:18.36. New Milford's Charles Osborne won the 800 with a new record time of 1:57.26. Immaculate's 4x400 winning team set a new mark of 3:25.21. Masuk's Trevor Rooney's new record long jump was 21-11.00.

For all of the fast times and winners that took home gold medals, the boys meet will be remembered for a silver and bronze earned in the final event that sent the Green Wave home with the top prize.

Top Performance from SWCs

1,600 Meter Run Finals5:03.21Mia NahomNew Milford High School
1,600 Meter Run Finals5:09.03Danielle MarconeImmaculate High School
300 Meter Hurdles Finals46.50Makenna CerneyNewtown High School
3,200 Meter Run Finals11:17.15Mia NahomNew Milford High School
800 Meter Run Finals2:19.79Mia NahomNew Milford High School
Pole Vault Finals11-6Danielle CassWeston High School
Pole Vault Finals11-6Lauren RussoNewtown High School
Shot Put Finals38-2Lauryn GauseBrookfield High School
1,600 Meter Run Finals4:18.36Stephen TylerWeston High School
1,600 Meter Run Finals4:18.40Ben RuffingJoel Barlow High School
1,600 Meter Run Finals4:19.21Andrew WhitneyMasuk High School
1,600 Meter Run Finals4:19.53Michael BortolotJoel Barlow High School
1,600 Meter Run Finals4:23.26Moetiz ShillehMasuk High School
800 Meter Run Finals1:57.26Charles OsborneNew Milford High School
800 Meter Run Finals1:57.89Ben RuffingJoel Barlow High School