Tess Stapleton of Fairfield Ludlowe broke a 21-year-old State Open meet record in the 55-meter hurdles and was the meet’s only double individual champion, having also won the long jump. And one week later she became the New England champion in both events with a pair of personal-best performances.
Those were the major achievements which highlighted individual and team accomplishments from FCIAC athletes and teams in the recent state class, State Open and New England high school indoor track and field championship meets.
Stapleton may still be in her junior year but she has already secured her status as one of the state’s all-time greatest track and field athletes with the many victories she has racked up along with the times and distances she has established at conference, state and New England championship meets.
Stapleton’s two victories accounted for 20 of Ludlowe’s 22 points at the 2019-20 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Open Girls Indoor Track and Field Championships at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven on Feb. 22 when she led the Falcons to a three-way tie for third place with Canton and fellow FCIAC member Greenwich. Glastonbury was the team champion with 54 points and Weston the runner-up with 37.
Bloomfield dominated to win the boys’ State Open with 56 points, 36 more than the 20 points scored by the Bristol Central and Wilbur Cross teams which tied for second place. Brien McMahon tallied 12 points to finish in a three-way tie for 13th place and the highest finish among FCIAC teams.
Stapleton, who burst upon the state track scene two years ago when she was the state Class LL and State Open indoor 55 hurdles champion as a freshman, won her third straight hurdles championship with a time of 8.04 which broke the old State Open meet record of 8.11 set in 1999 by Hillhouse’s Keisha Houghton. Stapleton also won the long jump with a winning jump of 19 feet, 6 inches which was just 3½ inches less than the current record. Last year she placed second in the long jump.
A week later Stapleton lowered her personal record in the 55 hurdles down to 7.88 when she won by .39 of a second and she also got her personal-best long jump of 19-6½ at the 33rd New England Interscholastic Championships on Feb. 29 at Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, Mass.
Two weeks prior to that Stapleton swept her specialties at the state Class LL championship meet in New Haven to lead Ludlowe to a tie for sixth place.
About nine months ago when Stapleton was a sophomore she won the 100-meter hurdles (14.1) and the long jump (18-9) at the State Open outdoor championship meet.
Stapleton was the conference’s only individual champion among girls and boys at the recent indoor State Open and New England championship meets.
But three other FCIAC athletes placed second individually at the State Open one week after there were six girls and six boys from the conference who were individual champions at state class championship meets in the middle of February.
Greenwich junior Mari Noble and St. Joseph senior Kayla Clark were the two girls from the FCIAC who placed second in individual events at the State Open after having won their events in their respective state class championship meets.
Noble was the 3,200 runner-up at the State Open and she ran a trio of strong anchor legs to wrap up victories for Greenwich’s 4×800 relay team at the Class LL, State Open and New England championship meets.
Noble defended her title in the 3,200 at the Class LL meet and a week later placed second at the State Open in the 3,200 (10:57.26). She was joined on the triple crown 4×800 relay team by Bianca Granitto, Grace Collier and Zoe Harris and they peaked with their personal-best 9:17.27 at the New England championships.
Clark was runner-up in the State Open 55 hurdles (8.39) one week after she won the 55 hurdles and placed fourth in the 55 dash (7.6) at the Class M meet.
Wilton junior Shelby Dejana also had a very successful postseason. Dejana won 55-meter dash (7.38) and 55 hurdles at the State Class L championships after she had placed third in the 55 hurdles and sixth in the 55 dash at the State Open.
In addition to Stapleton, Noble, Clark and Dejana, the two other girls from the FCIAC who were individual champions at their respective state class championship meets were Trumbull’s Emily Alexandru in the Class LL 600 (1:37.32) and Darien’s Chelsi Chevannes in the Class L long jump (16-11).
The New Canaan quartet of Ella Gibb, Sophie Curcio, Emma Ognibene and Lauren Doherty won the Class L 4×800 relay in 9:59.17. Gibb and Doherty also teamed up with Chloe Piegat and Eliana Bukai to place second in the Class L 1,600 sprint medley relay (4:20.31).
Nia Christie of St. Joseph tallied 18 points at the Class M championships by placing second in the high jump (5-2), third in the 55 hurdles (8.85) and fourth in the long jump (16-7).
Danbury’s Meilee Kry was runner-up in the Class LL long jump (17-3¼) and third in the 300.
The other girls from the FCIAC who placed second in individual events at their respective state class championship meets included Brien McMahon’s Peyton McNamara in the Class LL 55 dash (7.38), Wilton’s Claudia Naney in the Class L 300 (42.32), Darien’s Mairead Clas in the Class L 1,600 (5:12.44), and St. Joseph’s Nia Christie in the Class M high jump (5-2).
Brien McMahon senior sprinter Korey Morton set a boys’ Class LL championships meet record when he won the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.42, taking down the old record of 6.44 which Danbury’s Michael Lorick set in 2007. A week later Morton had the highest finish of any FCIAC athlete in the boys State Open when he placed second in the 55 dash with a 6.46 which was just a scan .04 of a second behind winner Keith Berrouet (6.42) from Hartford’s Sport and Medical Sciences Academy.
Ridgefield senior Simon Jupp scored 18 points in the boys Class LL championship meet when he won the 600 (122.45) and was runner-up in the 300 (36.05).
The other four boys from the FCIAC who were individual champions at their respective state class championship meets were Morgan Fierro of Staples in the 1,600 (4:23.97) and teammate Connor McGeehan in the long jump (21-3) at the Class LL meet, Ridgefield’s Charles King in the Class LL 1,000 (2:36.19), and Wilton’s Davis Cote in the Class L 1,000 (2:39.62).
The conference’s four boys who placed second in individual events at their class championship meets were Norwalk’s Ja’Den Williams in the Class LL shot put (46-10), New Canaan’s Andrew Charkales in the Class L pole vault (12 feet), Darien’s Nicholas Balenzano in the Class L long jump (21-00.25) and St. Joseph’s Louis Tuccio in the Class M shot put (49-00.25.)