The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Hillhouse girls, East Lyme boys win state titles
NEW HAVEN – Jada McCown won the 600, Shalisha Robertson won the shot put and Leonaya Knox won the 55 hurdles and had a close second in the 55 dash to lead Hillhouse to the CIAC Class M Girls Indoor Track Championship team title with 82 points.
Bethel was second with 43 points and Weston took third with 34. It was the Academic’s first team title since 2019.
East Lyme won the boys team title with 54.33 points, Tolland was second with 49 and Bethel was third with 46.
“We were confident coming in that we could put up our best fight, the only team that could beat us was us,” long-time Hillhouse assistant girls track coach Darrell Brown said. “We had our share of first places but second place, all places are important because the points all add up. That’s why we don’t stress records or PRs, we just tell the girls to do what they are capable of doing.
“These girls put the city of New Haven on their back today and made sure New Haven is relevant. We are looking forward to the State Open. We qualified about 95 percent of our team for the State Open.”
Brown was filling in for Hillhouse track coaches Gary Moore and Michele Moore who weren’t at the Class M meet. The Moores were at Clemson University watching their daughter Leah Moore and son Gary Moore Jr. compete in Tiger Paws Invitational meet. Leah competes in the throwing events for Kentucky and Gary Jr. competes in the throwing events at Baylor.
Knox won the 55 hurdles in 8.32 and was second in the 55 dash in 7.337. Talia Graham of Bethel had the better lean at the 55 dash finish line to win in 7.331. Robertson won the shot put with throw of 37-4.25.
McCown led the 600 start to finish in 1:41.81.
“I always try to get to the break line first at the start so I can control the race,” McCown said. “But this time it was close. I felt her (Lauren Haddad of Ledyard) hand touch mine going around the final corner in the last lap and that got my attention. I had a lot left and just ran as hard as I could to pull away.
“It’s great to contribute to our team’s points but it’s also a good springboard to the State Open (Feb. 18). It means a lot because all my hard work is paying off.”
EAST LYME DELIVERS
Despite not having an individual winner, East Lyme used its depth to win the boys title.
“We have a young team, and all we asked of the entire team is to do their job today,” East Lyme boys coach Steve Hargis said. ’And that’s what they did. Our guys were committed. We had at least one young athlete in every event and they came through. It helps to have a sophomore throw 50 feet (52-7.25) and take second in the shot put.”
Harry Grenier of Hand went out strong at the start and sprinted the last lap to win the 3,200 in 9:38.29.
“Recently, I changed my racing strategy and I’ve been running strong the entire race,” Grenier said. “I used to have the mind set of waiting and then taking that final burst at the end to pull away. I’m kicking a lot earlier now and racing out front. I still have enough left in the final lap to finish strong.”
LATE KICK GIVES MILES 1000 WIN
“I’m having a solid indoor season and running strong is a usually a reason why,” Cameron Miles of Weston said. “I initially wanted to go out hard. I led early but dropped back in the second lap. I moved up in the last lap and going around the last lap I had a little more left, so I pulled way.”
Olivia Walters of Brookfield won the girl 300 in 41.48. Career took the next two spots with Kiera Baxter second in 42.54 and Imani Bryan third in 42.60.
In the boys shot put Greyson Gold of Bethel won with a throw of 540.5. Michal Johnson of Lewis Mills had wins in the 300 (36.13) and 55 hurdles (7.63). Kyle Kurtz of Bethel won the pole vault (12-6).