CIAC Open Freakishly Fun Factoids

How does a 16th seed athlete win their event? Easy, it's the 2022 Open and the previous week's weather set up a lot of unusual results at the doings in Willow Brook Park stadium on Monday. But there was a lot of a tradition being carried on as the team winner of the third boys Open back in 1931 notched a second straight win. Here's a smattering of the FFF for Open-minded fans.

  • Into the unknown. Okay, so to that point about how a total dark horse unknown could win a 1600m championship when she was running in the unseeded section of the event. Somers' Rachel St. Germain has actually laid down a very strong reputation in the past and this year had already bagged three Open championships in XC and indoors along with two New England meet titles and an indoor Nike Nationals 2 mile victory. She just happened to get stuck with ferociously hot temperatures in her Class S meet last Tuesday and wisely took it conservatively there. Running mainly by herself in Section 1 of the 1600m at the Open, she put down a 4:57.77 time that held up to win over the top times in the seeded section.
  • Still more stranger things.  St. Germain wasn't the only winner whose low seeding made them a surprise or at least an underdog in overdog's clothing. Stonington's Ryan Orr was definitely a true long shot as he came in seeded 15th and ranked only 16th in CT, but in the unseeded middle section of the 800's three races, Orr knocked more than two seconds off his PR at 1:55.38 to steal the win from seeded section winner Gabriel Sisk of Hall by .26.
  • Expecting the unexpected. Although 21 of the 36 events were won by the top seed or co-favorite and 30 were captured by one of the top 3 seeds, there were still four other champs besides St. Germain and Orr who won despite not being among the trio of "seeded favorites." Weather at the class meets had something to do with the lower seeding, as Capital Prep's CT top-ranked but 6th-seeded Saryah Winborne was triple jumping in Monday's Class S meet when the runway was cooking, and Weston's CT top-ranked but 4th-7th (tie at 10-0) seeded pole vaulter Ellison Weiner got her Class MM attempts in following Wednesday's storm. Naugatuck's 5th-seeded long jumper Ese Onakpomo was close behind the four guys ahead of him and had a great day at the Open, and 4th-seeded Simsbury's 4x100m guys were close to the three teams ahead of them and they knocked .41 off their time at Class L to take the win.
  • Repeat offenders. Every year a group of seniors get hit by a streak of sheer greed as they contemplate the end of their HS careers and decide to repeat their Open wins from last year. This year the bunch included (with the help of two junior Titan relay runners) Danbury's Alanna Smith in the 100m, Joel Barlow's Mariella Schweitzer in the 300H, the Sheehan girls 4x100m squad, Weston's Shea Greene in the javelin, Greenwich's Andrew O'Donnell in the 400m, Hillhouse's Matthew Gibbs in the 300H and his teammate Gary Moore Jr in the shot put and discus.
  • Doubling and tripling up. And speaking of Gary Moore Jr, he proved to be the Open's king of multi-tasking by winning the shot put, discus, and javelin. Double winners included Housatonic Regional's Sydney Segalla in the 200m and 400m, Manchester's Aidan Puffer in the 1600m and 3200m, and EO Smith's Gabriella Hernandez won the 800m and anchored her team's 4x800m champs, while Tim Watson took the high jump and was a leg of Simsbury's 4x100m winners.
  • Class warfare. The Open winners were a pretty well-balanced group in respect to Class affiliations. For the boys the breakdown by LL-L-MM-M-S was 5-7-2-2-1 and for the girls it was 3-3-3-4-5. Combined, L was the top crown wearer at 8-10-5-6-6.
  • Second chance opportunities. All but four of the Open winners were also the champs at their Class meet. The four who had an Open comeback were Capital Prep's Saryah Winborne in the triple jump, Stonington's Ryan Orr in the 800m and his teammate Joshua Mooney in the 110H, and Hall's 4x400m boys squad.
  • First impressions. The Sheehan girls got their first Open title in a very tight four-way race with Joel Barlow, Danbury, and Weston by 43-37-35-34. The Titans' lone event winner was the 4x100m team.
  • Just like very old times. The Hillhouse guys won their first Open title back in 1931, and their repeat in 2022 of last year's title accompanies one other Open championship in 1997. There was no all-around Open title from 1933 to 1969, and during that era the Academics won L championships in 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1940, 1945, 1946, and 1950.
  • Open letter story. As all the old-timers might possibly tell you, the most hallowed and important record in the postseason Class and Open contests is the one to see which block of teams sharing the same initial letter can tally the most titles. The numbers have been totaled up during the boys Open-only era (1929-1932), the Class but no Open period (1933-1969), and the Class and Open times (1970-present).  Hillhouse's Open win marked the 80th win for 1st place letter H (Hillhouse, Hartford Public, Hall, Hyde Leadership, Haddam-Killingworth, Hamden, Harding, etc.), followed by W at 48 (Windsor, Wilbur Cross, Windham, Wethersfield, Weston, Wolcott, Westhill, Waterford, etc.), then N at 46 (Nonnewaug, Notre Dame, New Britain, New Canaan, Northwest Catholic, Norwich Free Academy, etc.), then S at 32 (Staples, Stonington, Simsbury, Sheehan, Seymour, Stratford, Suffield, Stamford, St. Bernard, Sacred Heart, South Windsor, St. Paul Catholic, Stafford, etc.), and B at 28 (Bloomfield, Bassick, Bunnell, Bristol, etc.), as a top 5.

    For the girls who started action in 1969, the Open-only era (1969-1974) was followed by the Class but no Open period (1975-1982), and the Class and Open times (1983-present). Sheehan's Open win gives 5th place S (Sheehan, Staples, St. Bernard, Somers, Simsbury, Suffield) its 21st title. The first four places are taken by W at 43 (Windsor, Weston, Weaver, Wilbur Cross, Wilton, Waterford, Woodrow Wilson, etc.), then N at 40 (Norwich Free Academy, New Canaan, North Haven, Northwest Catholic, New London, Nonnewaug, etc.), then B at 34 (Bloomfield, Bacon Academy, etc.), and H at 28 (Hillhouse, Housatonic Valley, etc.), for a top 5.