By almost the tiniest margin possible, Fairfield Warde senior Cate Allen failed to win all three distance events Monday afternoon and evening at the CIAC Class L boys and girls track championships at Middletown High School. Instead, she had to settle for being a two-event winner.
After winning the 1,600- and 800-meter races, Allen rallied in the final 200 meters of the 3,200 to overtake Simsbury's Sarah Mattison for the lead. But in the final 10 meters, Mattison, who had lost to Allen in the 1,600 by 2.78 seconds, charged back, pulling even with Allen then outleaning her at the finish line. Allen lost by 0.06 of a second. Both of their times were faster than the meet record set by Ruth Filep, of Roger Ludlowe High School, in 1985.
The Mustangs finished third as a team with 45 points, following their seventh-place finish last year. Simsbury won Monday with 115.5 points, with FCIAC champion Darien runner-up by scoring 103. On the boys side, Fairfield Ludlowe placed in a tie for 21st among 27 teams that scored with seven points. Warde was 24th with five points. The Ludlowe girls compete in the Class LL championships Tuesday at Danbury High School. Windsor (136) won the boys title on Monday, with Darien (87) second.
Senior Josh Archer's third-place throw in the javelin, which qualified him for the State Open on June 9 in Middletown, was the top performance by the Falcons. His throw of 170-feet-9 inches set a school record. Warde senior Aidan Fiol placed fourth in the 3,200.
Allen just missed a sensational feat. Darien's Nicholas Lombardo, though, came close, too. He nearly swept the jumps in the boys meet, winning the high jump and long jump but placing second in the triple jump. Darien's Anna Sulger won the 100 and 200 as the only other girls multiple-event winner.
"She was incredible," Warde girls coach Shawn Sorbello said of Allen, who will run at Wake Forest next year. "She was voracious."
"It was a pretty good day overall," said Allen, who was All-State in the fall in cross country. "It definitely was a high-mileage day. I'm happy with my times, definitely. I just wished I had leaned over the line a little more in the 3,200."
Allen nearly set personal bests in each event, failing in the 800. Her time in the metric half-mile was 2:15.57. She ran a career-fastest 2:15.07 in winning the FCIAC championship in 2013. Allen was timed in 10:45.98 in the 3,200 (Mattison's was 10:45.92). Allen's previous best was a 10:54.79 in winning the event at the 2013 Middletown Invitational on the same Rosek-Skubel Stadium track.
"My goal was to win the mile (1,600) and then to make a game plan as we go," Allen said. Sorbello said before any of her events had started that she was entered in all three races. They had an option to scratch her from any event they wanted. The plan became to go for it, so withdrawing her became less of an option as her momentum grew.
The next best finishes among Mustangs' girls athletes were a pair of thirds. Senior Rachel Maltz earned bronze in the javelin with a throw of 105-1, and junior Steph Sheehan, who took fifth in the 100-meter hurdles, finished third in the 300 hurdles. Maltz had thrown a 109-1, her personal record, in placing fourth in the FCIACs on May 27.
Maltz qualified for the State Open. "She's a very confident young woman," said Warde boys coach Justin Ottavio, who works with the throwers on both Mustangs' teams. "Who knows what she's capable of? I'm very optimistic she'll set a new PR at the State Open."
Sheehan set two personal bests in the hurdles, setting the Mustangs' record in the 300. "In the 100, I wanted to medal and break my PR, and I did," Sheehan said. "I think I just fixed my balance in the air. I wasn't nervous about the race." In the 300, "I wanted top three and wanted the school record. I wanted to be one of the first to the first three hurdles. I wanted a really strong start." She succeeded at that. Her seed time was 50.18 seconds; her third-place time was 48.67.
Senior Blossom Jean-Jacques, recovering from an injury, was ninth in the high jump, at 4-10, missing sixth, which earned a medal, because of more missed attempts than the other jumpers who cleared that height. The Mustangs 4-by-800-meter relay of senior Paige Hanley, sophomore Roey Mappa, freshman Olivia Spinosa and junior Quinn Igram finished seventh in 10:07.71.
Ottavio called Fiol's 9:26.29, which qualified him for the State Open, the highlight among the boys performances, though he said he was impressed by freshmen Will Brisman qualifying for the 3,200. Two Falcons' ninth-graders also qualified for the Class L 3,200 -- Ben Ertel and David Bates. Bates placed 16th, Brisman 20th and Bertel 21st.
Archer, primarily a distance runner, was part of the eighth-place Falcons' 4x800 relay along with Bates, Ertel and junior Zach Kenton. Ludlowe boys coach David Nulf said Archer had productive practices working on his javelin technique following his fifth-place throw at the FCIAC championships last Tuesday. Archer had been stalled with competitive throws in the 150s range. John Grant held the Falcons' javelin mark at 157-9 for two years.
"We talked that if he could get in the 160s that he'd have a good chance to medal," Nulf said. "I think he surprised himself." Archer agreed, but acknowledged the effective practice work on technique last week paid dividends. He was focused on the Ludlowe record. The key was taking a more aggressive approach, he said.
"I was just more aggressive and focusing on being able to maintain that aggressiveness all through the throw. I'm excited to see how much farther I can throw. I'm finally honing in on my technique," Archer said.
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