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Darien boys track team captures Class L state championship

Updated 11:47 pm, Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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The Darien boys track team captured the Class L state title on Friday in dominant fashion.

The Blue Wave amassed 100 points to top second place Windsor's 74. Darien used five first place finishes to garner the title as six athletes earned All-State honors.

In the 4 x 200, Darien faced Windsor, a team that is ranked No. in the event in New England. Going into the final exchange, Darien was running second behind Windsor. Spencer McMullin grabbed the baton from C.J. Raia and collided with a Windsor runner in lane 1 who had already passed the baton to his teammate. McMullin went sprawling to the floor, rolled over, popped up and took off to finish the race. Darien still held on for second place despite the fall in a time of 1:35.66. Windsor was disqualified for passing the baton outside of the exchange zone, and Darien moved to first place.

Darien was without one of their relay team members. Cameron Smith injured his hamstring during warm-ups and was unable to compete all night.

Smith was replaced by Cooper Drippe who was able to move Darien into second place with a fantastic second leg of the relay after taking the baton from Nick Lombardo.

"It was an emotional first 15 minutes to the meet," Darien coach Tyson Kaczmarek said. "The news of Cameron being hurt was tough to hear. I know how bad he wanted to compete. We preach depth on this team and Cooper was ready to go when called upon. It didn't even faze him. That's what we need to be successful. Spencer McMullin was great on the anchor leg. To have the presence of mind to get right back up after the fall kept us in the race."

Three events later, Darien catapulted to a big lead with a 1-2-3 finish in the 1,000. Brian Davey placed first in 2:40.64 followed by Marshall Huffman (2:43.80) and Peter Kreuch (2:46.71) as Darien took advantage of the seven-athlete field, an extreme rarity. Add in a fourth place finish by Spencer McKeough in the shot put (47-5) and Darien was out to a big lead that would never be relinquished.

Meanwhile, in the field, Lombardo captured first in both the long jump (22-0.25, a personal best) and high jump (6-2), giving him three gold medals on the day.

"This was a team win tonight. We came out fired up. It was tough waiting 6 more days than we planned for the team was determined," Kaczmarek said. "The atmosphere was incredible. I've never seen guys so into a meet like this. Their confidence was through the roof. It was awesome."

The points continued to pile up as sophomore Alex Ostberg was third in the 1,600 in 4:33.31 and freshman Armstrong Noonan was fifth in 4:35.42. Another win came in the sprint medley as the team of Will Ardery, Drippe, Raia and Davey ran 3:46.38 and held off a hard-charging Naugatuck team.

McMullin went on to place fourth in the 300 in 36.81, and Ostberg was second in the 3,200 in 9:53.03 while Huffman was fourth in 9:58.47. In the final event of the night, Drippe, Ardery, Raia and McMullin placed second in the 4 x 400 in 3:34.63.

Other DHS athletes competing at the meet included the following: Ryan Yuen (16th, 300, 39.25; 11th, long jump, 18-9), Judson Bergman (12th, 600, 1:29.89), Ben Olsen (12th, 1,600, 4:50.33), Kreuch (eighth, 3,200, 10:21.11), Noonan (11th, 3,200, 10:24.45), Andrew Xiong, James Farrington, Sean Lee, Tim Grozier (10th, 4 x 800, 8:55.06), Jack Neary (11th, shot put, 42-1.5), Mike O'Malley (18th, shot put, 40-2)

"This win was for Cameron Smith and Matt Pik. I know Cameron was completely bummed by the injury. Matt was a 600 runner and captain for us last year," Kaczmarek said. "I'll always remember the look on his face after the 4 x 400 when we came up just short of beating Windsor. It was devastating. This win took care of that devastation."