New Haven, CT - Big times are coming for Class LL on Thursday as the CIAC's largest schools square off in some huge grudge matches that follow up on last year's clash of the titans and a few recent conference meets. Two squads that may be particularly vengeance-minded are the Norwich Free Academy boys who lost by 1 point to Hall last year, and the Glastonbury girls could have some payback in mind after also losing by 1 to Danbury in 2019. Indeed every point mattered last year.
Many athletes and relay squads are back as the favorites to defend their titles. On the girls side, Glastonbury's Samantha Forrest in the 300m and Glastonbury in the 4x200m and 4x400m relays are solid favorites again, and it might seemingly take an asteroid strike to prevent Ludlowe's Tess Stapleton in the 55 hurdles and long jump, Southington's Trinity Cardillo in the shot put (if in action), or Paige Martin in the pole vault from repeating, though Martin's fellow triplet Madison will be challenging her in the PV. Somewhat harder to gauge is how the distance events will set up, for the reigning 3200m champ Mari Noble of Greenwich seems to have gravitated more to the 1600m where she is now among the top ranked, and last year's 3200m 3rd place finisher Kate Hedlund of Manchester has emerged as the favorite in the event. Ridgefield won the 4x800m and 1600 sprint medley relays last year, and though the Tigers are not among the favorites this year, it is never wise to count them out.
As usual the boys side lost more of their champs to senioritis. Defending champs Hall in the 4x400m and Glastonbury in the 4x800m are again the favored relay squads, and Norwich Free Academy's Osarentin Osagie in the 55 hurdles and Jacob Bazinet in the pole vault are individual faves. Though most of last year's running event winners graduated, Hamden's Christopher Pigatt is second-seeded to Shelton's Michael Rodia after taking the sprint win last year, and Simon Jupp is back as the leader in both the 300m and 600m after electing to battle Danbury champ Malcolm Going in the 600m and earning the silver even though he had the top LL time in the 300m.
A few other monumentally interesting races will include the sophomore duo of Conard's Gavin Sherry and Manchester's Aidan Puffer squaring off in pretty much matching uniforms in the distance events. Sherry stands US #6 in the 1600m (actually #3 with mile conversion) and #5 in the 3200m and Puffer is #9 and #12 for that double, so that could be a pretty cool matchup, again and again and again. Trumbull's Emily Alexandru and Greenwich's Zoe Harris could wage a great duel in the 600m, and Hall's Jenna Zydanowicz will likely be battling a pack of contenders in the 1000m, though the lineup for that event is uncertain.
Meet records were set last year by Tess Stapleton in the 55H and Glastonbury in the 4x400m for the girls, and Chet Ellis of Staples got an MR on the boys' side in the HJ at 6-9 in his senior year.
The breakdown for each every event is noted on the following pages, though they are drawn from Qualifier lists and not the Entries, and there will also be scratches from even the Entries lists on Thursday. Keep in mind that the times for relays often come from highlight invitationals with top runners sporting fairly fresh legs, and those times may not reflect actual Class meet conditions late in the evening when runners with legs of tired old lead line up to milk a few more points for the teams out of the final relays.
Article correction on 2/13 - Conard's girls are in Class L
Begins 4:00 on Thursday, February 13 at Floyd Little Athletic Center, next to Hillhouse HS.
All photos are from Krista Benson.
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