New Britain CT - To some extent, trying to do a preview of the State Open championship based on the Class meets is a little foolish. The Class meets are different beasts as athletes fight through many different events to earn points for their teams. Once all the qualifiers get to the Open, there is generally some lessening of the work load as athletes focus more on their strongest events and many of the Class champion teams acknowledge that they are not really in the hunt for the Open title.
Four athletes took triple individual championships in their Class meets, but the chance of anyone tripling up in the Open crucible is far less likely. Even earning a double will be a challenge, though on the girls side Alana Smith of Danbury is top seeded in the 100m and 200m, Joel Barlow's Mariella Schweitzer has the top marks in the 100m hurdles and 300 meter hurdles, and Leah Moore is tops in the shot put and discus. On the boys side, Shelton's Jason Lorent is top seeded in the 100m and 200m, Hillhouse's Gary Moore Jr. leads in the shot put and discus, and you could put Hall in as a doubles possibility for their 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
The truth is, we really have only a guess about where a lot of the athletes will be focusing their energies at the Open. Some may also get a reprieve from a taxing relay gig to go all out in an individual event, and some relay teams may get a boost from the addition of some legs who no longer need to pick up a 4th or 5th place in an individual event to help out in the Class wars.
For what it's worth, the full Performance Lists for the Open include the info for the qualifiers in each event and their times, heights, and distances at the Class championships. Some things are clear, but there are many questions that only Thursday will answer.
And now to update with some fun factoids.
- Only one champion from the last Open in 2019 is back to defend a title, partly because Tess Stapleton's injury keeps her out of the 100H and long jump action (sister Tia is among the favorites in the high jump). Alanna Smith won the 400m as freshman in 2019, and this year it could be her most challenging event in potentially a 100-200-400 slate of action.
- 11 of the 36 event titles in 2019 were won by athletes from Class S schools, 7 of them coming on the boys' side as Bloomfield scored 108 points to win the team title by 65 points.
- 29 of the 2019 Open winners also got the victory in their Class meet. Another six of the Open champs finished as runners-up in their Class contest. So that just leaves a special athlete named Chet Ellis to represent the "real dark horse" winners as he placed 3rd to Matthew Santy and Justin Forde in the Class LL meet at just 6-4 but then restored his good name in the Open by leaping to a state record 7-0.5. This factoid should give heart to all those Open qualifiers who finished outside the top two places in their Class meet.
- Youth was very well served at the 2019 Open on the girls' side as only three of the fifteen individual event winners were seniors: Angela Saidman in the 1600m, Allyson Lewis in the high jump, and Susie Okoli in the discus. Seniors dominated on the boys' side as only freshman Malcolm Beckford in the 200m and juniors Robbie Cozean in the 3200m, Michael Campbell in the discus, and Jordan Davis in the javelin were underclassmen.
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