Darien's Ostberg wins at New England meet
Published 9:29 pm, Friday, February 27, 2015
BOSTON -- Athletes from across New England descended upon the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center on Friday for the New England indoor track and field championships.
None of them jumped higher -- and only one jumped farther -- than Staples senior Anthony Bravo.
Navigating back and forth between the long and high jump areas, Bravo, who said he was bothered by a back injury during the season, set a personal best in the winning the high jump (6-09) by five inches. Bravo finished second in the long jump (22-01.50) to narrowly miss out on an incredible double win.
"I feel really good that's probably the biggest PR (personal record) I've ever done," said Bravo of his high jump. "I didn't jump as I hoped in the long jump but, wow, this meet is way more exciting."
Bravo was far from the only regional athlete to enjoy success in Boston.
As has been the case the last several seasons, Fairfield County dominated the 2-mile run. Staples junior Hannah DeBalsi (10:26.09) and Alex Ostberg (9:00.58) took home both titles ahead of the national meet.
DeBalsi three-peated after setting the meet record last year and winning the race from the unseeded section as a freshman. Without anyone to push her toward a personal best, DeBalsi focused on winning the event, doing so by more than 14 seconds.
"There was no one around me, so I just settled," DeBalsi said. "I'm disappointed in that; I know I'm in better shape than that because of my workouts. ... It's an honor though, the main goal coming in was to win."
The boys race was far tighter, but was still settled by a trio of FCIAC standouts. Ostberg and teammate Armstrong Noonan (9:09.15) paced the field, with Ostberg gradually pulling away over the second half of the race and winning by eight seconds. Brien McMahon's Eric Van der Els (9:08.67) sprinted past Noonan for second in the final moments.
"Having the caliber of runners in my conference is invaluable," Ostberg said. "It's fantastic, I didn't even win the FCIAC meet. Some people may have doubted my ability, but I've always believed in hard work and faith in my coaching staff."
Ostberg's winning time is currently the fastest in the nation this winter.
The win was particularly special for Ostberg, who has dealt with injuries and illnesses throughout the season. Ostberg placed second to Van der Els at the State Open after running the mile to help the Blue Wave score points.
"I'm a little nostalgic and emotional," Ostberg said. "I've been through a lot of adversity (with injuries) and things didn't go my way. But I always had faith in my coaches. ... Now I can say I'm back to my old self."
Danbury's boys team dominated the FCIAC and state season and put its powers together to deliver a second-place finish in the 4x800 relay. The Hatters team -- consisting of Terrell Cunningham, Julio Arrendondo, Eric Waterman and Corey Mullins -- held the lead for most of the race, but were nipped on the final lap by Amherst-Pelmah (Mass.) senior Kelzy Rodrigues. The Staples quartet of Oliver Hickson, Luis Cruz, Benjamin Foster and Case Gornbein came home third (7:59.94) in the race.
"Our team did a great job of getting out up front," Mullins said. "There was nothing I could do about that last up; we ran a great time and got a PR."
"We came out here wanting to win," Waterman added. "But we ran 10 seconds faster than we did at states."
The Danbury girls 4x200 team (Niema Riley, Bridget Chiaravalle, Zyniah Bunn and Saintphanie Porcenat) placed fifth with a time of 1:45.89.
Hatters freshman standout Leah Sarkisian placed fifth in the 600, with a time of 1:22.20. The time was a personal best and an improvement from her second-place finish at the State Open. Sarkisian started running in fifth grade and has made tremendous strides despite the bright lights of a regional meet.
"My goal was to beat my personal best and place," Sarkisian said. "I get a little nervous but that turns to energy; I started the 600 this year and I've gotten better every time."
Norwalk senior Evan Adams, who will be playing football for Syracuse this fall, placed second in the shot put (55-11.00). Wilton's Spencer Brown placed second in the 1,000 with a time of 2:27.51.
"I'm very grateful that I came here and got this far," said Adams, who didn't participate in the event a year ago. "(Connecticut) had four of the top seven throwers; I can't be more proud of my state."
Adams in unsure whether he will participate in the national meet or the spring season due to football training commitments, making Friday a possible finale for the offensive lineman.
"There's a chance, but you can't think of it like that," Adams said. "As long as it doesn't interfere with my football I'm happy to do both. If that was my last throw it was a pretty good run."
The Weston girls, who were seeded eighth, placed sixth in the 4x800 relay (929.61). The boys team placed second in the 4x200 meter relay with a time of 1:29.46, which broke the meet record. The Trojans finished just behind Windsor (1:29.23). Teammate Simeon Okoro 34.89 took home the 300 title while sophomore Jillian Howard placed fifth in the mile with a time of 5:02.79.
"It was about the time I ran in (winning) State Opens, but always pleased in coming in first and being able to win at New Englands," Okoro said. "The race was a little sluggish and heavy on the legs, but I'm glad I pulled through."
Masuk's Joseph DiMartino placed fourth in the high jump, clearing 6-05.
Wreckers senior Elizabeth Knoll placed fifth in the high jump (5-05), though admitted she wanted to clear 5-07, which would have earned her a runner-up spot.
"I was definitely trying to go for 5-07, so I was a little disappointed with my performance," Knoll said. "I was coming off a tough week at State Opens, so I was happy that was able to place. Now I'm ready to train hard for a couple of weeks for nationals."
Greenwich's Sarah Cicchetti won the shot put with a throw of 41-00.75 after placing eighth in the event last spring during the outdoor season.
"I'm so excited, it's been such a long season," Cicchetti said. "I can't even put into words how exciting it is. .. I practice two-and-a-half hours a day, I couldn't rely on thinking because it's such a fast time from when you start to when you release your shot."
The shot put was held in the corner of the arena, well away from spectator view.
"I was actually happy about that," Cicchetti said. "Usually in indoor it's right in the middle of the track; If I had everyone watching me I would have freaked out."
Trumbull's Tyler Gleen (1:22.36) finished fourth in the 600, while Ridgefield's Jonathan Keating (1:22.48) came home fifth. Darien senior Anna Sulger (40.82) placed fifth in the 300.
The New Balance nationals are schedule for the weekend of March 13-15 at the Armory in New York City.