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Danbury track teams earn state crowns; FCIAC athletes star on postseason meets

NEW BRITAIN – The Danbury boys’ team had a Triple Crown season when it won the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Open Track and Field Championships on June 4 at Willow Brook Park in New Britain.

That was a major highlight among many accomplishments by FCIAC teams and individuals during the recent state championship meets.

The Danbury boys and girls teams both won CIAC Class LL championships to add on to the conference championships they previously won before the Danbury boys captured their third crown this spring with the program’s first State Open championship since 2011.

“I just felt confident that we were going to execute our events,” FCIAC Hall of Fame inductee and longtime Danbury head coach Rob Murray said to the Danbury News-Times. “I felt confident because the guys on the team, they trust their experience and they trust, more importantly, the tradition of what Danbury track and field is.”

The Hatters had to utilize that experience and a victory by their four 4×400 relay members in the meet’s final event to win their sixth State Open championship. Prior to this spring and in 2011, they also won their first one in 1998 and there were three straight State Open titles from 2007-09.

Danbury seniors Dan Nichols and Nate Llanos each scored 10 team points by winning their respective individual events while fellow senior Sean-Michael Parkinson placed third in the 200-meter dash and then a little while later he sealed the team title with a strong anchor leg on the championship-clinching 4×400 relay team.

Danbury scored most of its points in events toward the end of the meet.

Llanos cleared 14 feet to win the pole vault and Nichols won the 3,200 with a 9:09.91.

Parkinson placed third in the 200 with a 22.22, slightly faster than his clocking of 22.55 when he won the Class LL 200 several days earlier.

Going into the final event, the 4×400 relay, Danbury’s Hatters had 41 team points and Derby was just a half of a point behind with 40.5.

Philip Melo, Glenroy Ford and Malcolm Going came through with their strong legs of that clinching relay and Parkinson brought the baton across the finish line first as the Hatters registered their final 10 team points to win with 51 total.

Derby placed third in that deciding 4×400 so Danbury’s Hatters won the team title by 4.5 points as Derby was runner-up with 46.5 points.

Going placed fifth in the 800 (1:53.85) and Ford was sixth in the 400 (49.86) to score what proved to be valuable team points for the Hatters.

FCIAC member Staples placed third in the team scoring with 36 points. The Wreckers were led by individual champions William Landowne, who won the 1,600 in 4:12.6, and Chet Ellis, who cleared 6 feet, 6 inches to win the high jump.

Brien McMahon finished in a three-way tie for ninth place with 18 points and Wilton placed 14th with 16 points as both of those schools each had one individual singlehandedly put their teams in those positions by scoring every team point in individual events.

McMahon junior Justin Forde won the triple jump with a personal-best leap of 49 feet, 6½ inches which was just 10 inches shy of the meet record, and he was runner-up to Ellis in the high jump (6-4).

Wilton senior Christopher Colbert scored eight points in each event with his runner-up finishes in the 200 (22.06) and 400 (49.07).

Also from the FCIAC: Ian Bartlett of Fairfield Ludlowe placed third in the 800 (1:52.98), Josh Appel of Westhill was fourth in the pole vault (13-6), Darien’s Michael Neary took fourth in the shot put (51-6), Benjamin Seiple of Staples was fifth in both the 1,600 (4:15.12) and 3,200 (9:19.05), and Trumbull’s Jack Jones was fifth in the long jump (22-3¼).

Danbury won the boys’ Class LL championship with 83.5 points to finish 19.5 points ahead of Staples and Manchester, which tied for second with 64 points apiece. Staples was the defending champion as the Wreckers dethroned Danbury last year.

The FCIAC had five teams among the top 12 as Ridgefield was eighth with 39 points, McMahon placed ninth with 35 and Trumbull was 12th with 24.

The Danbury boys program won its eighth state Class LL championship. The Hatters won three consecutive titles from 2001-03, then won another three straight from 2007-09, and the previous championship was won in 2016.

The Danbury girls defended their state Class LL championship by a comfortable margin of 33 points as the Hatters racked up 94 points.

Glastonbury placed second with 61 and was followed by FCIAC teams Greenwich (58) and Fairfield Ludlowe (57).

There were six conference teams among the top 12 at the Class LL meet as Ridgefield placed eighth with 41 points, Trumbull was 11th with 32.5 and McMahon took 12th with 26.5.

It was the Danbury girls program’s seventh state Class LL championship – the previous six occurring in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2011 and last year.

In the State Open girls’ meet, Southington had nary one athlete in the running events but yet still won the team title by scoring all 35 of its points in the field events. Amanda Howe swept the shot put and discus to lead the way.

Bloomfield placed second with 32 points.

Lauren Moore and Celyna Custodio each had runner-up finishes in individual events to lead Danbury to third place with 28 points, just one point ahead of fellow FCIAC member Greenwich (27).

Also from the FCIAC, Ridgefield placed 10th with 20 points and Fairfield Ludlowe was 13th with 17 points.

Greenwich’s superb senior Emily Philippides will graduate with the distinction of being one of the best middle distance runners in state history – given that she is a three-time champion in the 800-meter run. And the Princeton-bound Philippides won her third and final State Open 800 race quite convincingly with a time of 2:11.78 which was 4.22 seconds faster than runner-up Erin McGill (2:16.0) of Glastonbury. Philippides was also on Greenwich’s on winning 4×800 relay team (9:13.58).

Ridgefield sophomore Emma Langis was the other State Open individual champion from the FCIAC as she won the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.38.

Moore, a Danbury junior, broke the five-minute barrier in the 1,600 when she was runner-up with a 4:59.15. She improved by two places and ran about six seconds faster than last year when she placed fourth at the Open with a 5:05.2.

Custodio was runner-up in the shot put with a 38-10¾.

Wilton’s Morgan McCormick placed second in the 3200 (10:45.76) to Pomperaug’s freshman phenom Katherine Wiser, who won with a 10:36.72. Six months earlier McCormick won the State Open cross country individual championship by 19 seconds over runner-up Wiser.

Five other girls from the FCIAC placed among the top five individually at the recent State Open outdoor track meet.

Fairfield Ludlowe freshman Tess Stapleton placed third in the long jump (17-8¼), St. Joseph’s Olivia Johnson was fourth in the triple jump (36-6), while placing fifth in their respective events were Ludlowe’s Maya Mocarski (100, 12.47), Norwalk’s Laura Turner (400, 58.31) and Trumbull’s Emily Alexandru (300 hurdles, 46.09).

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