Warde girls track and field finishes third, boys 12th
For the rest of the FCIAC, Fairfield Warde's top girl distance runners can't graduate soon enough. The hard-training duo of Meg Ryan and Carly Birkhold took home five medals between them from Tuesday's FCIAC outdoor track championship meet, leading the Mustangs to a third-place team finish.
Running in the 1,600, Ryan overtook the rabbits who set a fast early pace, passed them, and won going away in 4:56.74, her closest competitor almost eight seconds back. She repeated her performance in the 3,200, her nine-second victory the fourth best time in the state. Ryan sandwiched a second-place finish in the 800 between her two gold medals.
"I'm so proud of her," said Birkhold, who has trained with Ryan for two years. "She's a great girl, really competitive. No matter how she's feeling or what else is going on for her, she always goes out 100 percent competitive. I was excited to be running with her today because she's so consistent and I know that I can pace myself off of her."
The pace Ryan set was apparently helpful to Birkhold, who finished third in the 3,200 in 11:09.36, beating her personal record by over 11 seconds. Her fifth place in the 1600, cutting nearly six seconds off her personal record, came as a bit of a surprise to her fans, who have known her as a longer distance runner.
"She ran really smart races," said Ryan. "Going in, we knew a few girls would go out fast and she had to be really patient and run her even splits. She was unsure if she wanted to double up cause the 3,200 is her race, but what she did today shows that her hard work and dedication is paying off."
Thrower Alyson Leppla again put on her best performance at tournament time, contributing a silver medal in the shot put to the Mustang collection. Her toss of 35 feet-1 1/2 inches added six inches to her personal record. Then she improved her javelin toss by eight feet to claim an eighth place.
Jana Dodson led the Warde high jumpers with a five foot leap, good for third place, two inches higher than Mackenzie Dancho, who took third, and four inches higher than Ali Van De Berghe, who scored for the Mustangs with an eighth place finish in the high jump.
Ali Taikowski won two medals for the Mustangs. Her long jump of 16 feet-7 1/2 inches in was good for fourth place, a mere half inch out of third, and her triple jump of 33 feet-7 inches was good for sixth.
Sarah Duffy, the Mustangs' senior sprinter, took sixth in the 100, her 13.09 just .05 seconds out of fifth.
Two relay teams scored for the Mustangs, the 4x 800 team of Casey Taracka, Molly Robb, Maggie Allen, and Jillian Tallent earning sixth place medals and the 4 x 100 team of Sarah Collins, Allie Taikowski, Victoria Edison, and Sarah Duffy placing eighth.
On the boys' side, the Mustangs managed a 12th place finish, led by sophomore distance phenomenon Harry Warnick. Warnick gave his first notice to the FCIAC with a fourth place finish in the 1,600.
"Harry Warnick established a new school record in the 1,600 with a time of 4:32.80," said Mustang head coach Justin Ottavio. "The previous record holder was Matt Kane, who is currently running at Villanova, which speaks volumes about Warnick's potential."
Warnick continued to show his potential in the 3,200, battling Warde senior Sam Parton down the stretch, and earning a third place, a second ahead of the wily senior. Parton matched his personal record, while Warnick broke his personal record by a stunning 25 seconds.
"I love running with Sam," said Warnick. "He's got a super attitude when we do workouts together and we push each other, which is great."
The Mustang boys earned points for eighth place finishes in four other events, starting with the 4x800 relay team of Mike Robb, Warnick, Parton, and Chris Bartlett Patrick McGuinness beat his seed throw in the discus by nearly a foot, Jon Bowers heaved the shot 42 feet, and Kevin Krug cleared the bar at 5-6 in the high jump.
The Mustangs' teams go their separate ways for the state class meets, with the girls competing in the MM class on Tuesday and the boys in class L on Wednesday.