New Britain CT - The CIAC Open was a classic as a half dozen meet records were broken or equaled and the state records in both the boys 1600m and girls javelin were obliterated. Though most of the golds went to the favorites in each event, there was a dark horse winner in the 300m hurdles spurred on by a two-second PR that helped a boys team upset the defending champs. An incredible triple in the 100m-200m-400m events by a star sprinter propelled the girls' 2019 champs to a successful defense of the team title, but even as the defending champ in the 400m she could also be thought of as a dark horse there since she came in as the 7th seed, though admittedly it would take a huge stretch of logic to think that way.
For many athletes and fans, just getting to the starting line for the Open events was a major victory following the pandemic void of 2020 and a following year when many states were forced to cancel their championships for a second year. And maybe the knowledge that there is no guarantee anymore that a group of seniors will get their opportunity to shine in their final scholastic year energized this year's graduates to even bigger efforts. Still, only one of the girls' winners in the running events was a senior, and half of the 30 individual titles were claimed by underclassmen, so CT will have a wealth of talent returning for 2022
- Gavin Sherry's double in the 1600m and 3200m included two meet records. The 1600m time of 4:01.88 sliced more than 6 1/2 seconds off the old state record and was also a US #1 mark for 2021, and the Conard junior still has some big chances coming up in the next few weeks. Wolcott senior Nick Bendtsen also ran under the old state record by more than two seconds. Sherry is the first guy to take the 1600m-3200m double since Fairfield Prep's Christian Alvarado did it in 2014.
- Alanna Smith broke no records as she had to spread her resources across three sprint events and a total of four races, but she came away with three golds in the 100m-200m-400m trifecta to help push Danbury to the team title again. This time she got a comfortable win in the 400m, the race that had eluded her in the Class LL meet and the one she captured in 2019 as a freshman. Smith is the first to win all three of the Open sprint events since 2011 when Hillhouse sophomore Precious Holmes took the triple.
- Gary Moore Jr got the meet discus record, just missing the state mark by seven inches. Moore also won the shot put by more than eight feet, and the Hillhouse junior added still another 4 points to his team's winning total by taking a 5th in the javelin.
- Leah Moore added still more joy to the family celebration as she equaled her younger brother's haul of golds in the shot put and discus by big margins and provided Hillhouse with 20 of its 24 points on the girls' side.
- Jason Lorent was the favorite in the 100m but the Shelton senior had only the sixth fastest time in prelims. In the finals though he left no doubts about who was the sprint king as he scorched a 10.69 and then ran off as expected with the 200m title.
- Olivia Birney took a tough 800m-1600m double while hitting a big PR in the longer event first, and then the Simsbury junior returned for another scorching battle in the 800m. Birney is the first runner to take the 800m-1600m double since Wilbur Cross's Danae Rivers did it back to back in 2014 and 2015.
- Weston senior Patrick Bigelow was second seeded in the pole vault but clinched the title at 15-0 before clearing 15-6 and then finally bowing out while attempting to break the meet record at 16-1.
- Joel Bigelow junior Mariella Schweitzer was favored in the hurdles events and she dominated in both, tying the meet record in the 300m hurdles. She is the first to win the hurdles tandem since Norwalk senior Lauren Ventrella did it 12 years ago.
- Norwich Free Academy junior Maxson Pierre Louis picked a great time to set a new high jump PR as he cleared 6-6 and then pushed his triple jump best up by 7 inches while taking the silver medal.
- Weston junior Shea Greene had the win in the javelin well in hand after a meet record 149-4 toss on her second throw, but she went all-out on her last throw to go even further with a US #5 and new state record distance of 154-0.
- Cheshire's Ryan Farrell got the number 6 hip sticker for the 800m based on his time in the Class L meet, but CT's top ranked half miler took down the Open record.
- St. Joseph's Nia Christie equaled Nonnewaug winner Courtney Rowland's 5-6 height in the high jump but lost on misses, so she made sure of everything early in the triple jump action by jumping 37-11.5 to win by more than a foot.
The boys title went to Hillhouse with 55 points thanks largely to 24 points from Gary Moore Jr off of shot put and discus wins and 5th place in the javelin, 14 points from Matthew Gibbs with a 300H win and 5th in 110H, and 12 points from Raphael Hawkins after taking a 2nd in the 200m and 5th in the 400m. Following the Academics were Hall at 44, New Milford 35, Haddam-Killingworth 34, Conard 24, and Weston 23.
Danbury claimed the girls title with 44 points due mainly to Alanna Smith's 30 points from the sprint events sweep and Tianna Rogers' 2nd in the shot put. Glastonbury was 2nd with 38, followed by Weston at 37, New Milford with 33, Southington at 30, and Ridgefield with 26.
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