That Makes Ten!

Howie Lam, Contributing Writer

Last night at the CIAC Class LL Championship, Hall reigned supreme in their tenth-consecutive state championship. With only one event won throughout the eighteen events scored, and only one second-place finish, the depth of the team managed to pull through and pass runner-up Greenwich.

At the start of the meet, the 4×800 relay of seniors Jamie Rendon, Jake Ludgin, Toby Ruffo, and sophomore Gabe Sisk ran the only first-place finish for the team. A time of 8:08.45, they had a very short lead on runner-up Glastonbury, who finished a little over two seconds behind. 

Following the 4x800m, junior Sam Sandler, senior captain Ahmad Pierce, and sophomores Charlie Cameron and Jon York got in their starting position before passing off their baton in the 4×100 relay. Jon York stated, “Think the team ran solid… for my leg, I think that I did my job and barely out-leaning the Southington team was hype.” They barely out-leaned Southington’s team by just five-thousandths of a second.

Steven Taranto and Kayshawn Savage competed in the 100m dash, with impressive times of 11.78 and 11.71 respectively.

In a fast heat of the 1600m, Walker Beverly qualified for the State Open race competing with Manchester runner Aidan Puffer, running a time of 4:22.13. And Colin Goldschmidt had a huge personal best, closing the last lap in sixty-one seconds, with a time of 4:23.83.

With a short break in between the 1600m, field events brought home some points that further extended the lead. Nicholas Xaiver placed seventh in the discus throw, scoring an astonishing 124-05.00. Jake Long placed thirteenth, throwing 114-07.00.

Nicolai Yanko cleared the 6 foot mark in the high jump, just barely missing state-opens by one spot.

In the javelin throw, both Dominic Russos and Jake Long scored vital points, with 127-02 and 126-8. Both go 7-8 in the javelin.

In the boys long jump, Aaron Sandler and Leo Perreira jumped marks of 18-05.25 and 18-03.00.

Moving onto State Opens is sophomore Liam Wright, who was reigning CCC Champion in both Indoor and Outdoor for the Pole Vault. Clearing an astounding 12-00.00, he is looking forward to the State Open meet on Monday. “I’m most looking forward to seeing some insane talent and seeing how competition will stack up,” Liam said.

Colin Richard also advances to the championship meet on Monday, placing fourth in the shot put with a mark of 45-11.75. Nick Xaiver follows behind with 40-03.00. And finally in the boys triple jump, Mark Zadi threw down a huge personal best of 41 feet, 11.75 inches and Aaron Sandler followed in eighth with 40 feet, 5.25 inches.

The 400-meter dash contributed many points to the team’s score, and resulted in personal bests for sophomores Jon York and Julian Serrano, and junior Sam Sandler. Closing hard and not letting up, York blazed to an almost sub 49-second time, running a 49.07 second 400m. “I really wanted to beat Gianluca”, York said.

Sandler placed fourth coming in at 49.28.  Serrano smashed his personal best, sprinting to a 52.52. Sophomore Tommy Nash completed the one lap-dash in 54.28 seconds.

In the last event that Hall’s team did not manage to qualify for until the Last Chance Invitational at Avon a few weeks ago, sophomores Bryce Blodgett and Joe Nham finished third and seventh, finishing with times of 42.63 and 43.56. Blodgett made it to the State Open. Nham stated, “Although I missed state opens, I plan on working on my endurance, as the 300 and 400 are long sprints, and my form, as that is something I have struggled with.”

The 800-meter race was not a race that disappointed. Highlighted by sophomore Gabe Sisk and senior Sean McDaniel, both managed to dip under the magical 2 minute barrier, running 1:55.36 and 1:56.83 that placed them third and sixth respectively. Two seniors who returned to double are Captain Toby Ruffo, who closed out his open 800m career with a 2:01.01, and Senior Jamie Rendon who ran a 2:02.91.

Closely behind Ruffo was Fareed Aburabia, a freshman who only started Track and Field this outdoor season, racing a time of 2:01.68. Aburabia makes it to the Freshman Nationals and will compete next month. Other notable performances include senior Jake Ludgin (2:04.66, following his efforts in the 4×800), sophomore Jeremy Baun (2:05.52), and senior Liam Scully (2:07.10).

York isn’t done yet– both he and 4×100 teammate Charlie Cameron put down the hammer in the 200m dash, placing second and ninth in the race, with times of 22.20 and 23.45. Both times were run into severe headwinds, but these two sophomores managed to still run impressively fast times.

After the sun had set, the lights turned on for the 3200m. The environment suddenly became energetic–  a sort of feeling that it was about to be crazy. In the first heat, freshman Ben Lewis swung wide and kicked hard to a time of 9:49.63– an almost 14 second personal best. Alongside Fareed Aburabia, Ben is also going to travel and compete at Freshman Nationals this June. Sophomore Isaac Mahler placed fourth (9:34.11), and junior Avery Allen placed fifth (9:37.87). Both plan to drop fast times on Monday. Senior Captain Walker Beverly came back after the mile to run a 9:40.44, along with junior Ethan Striff-Cave (9:51.49).

Closing out any team in contention was the 4x400m relay, consisting of sophomore Julian Serrano, senior captains Sean McDaniel and Toby Ruffo, and junior Sam Sandler. Combining to finish in a time of 3:24.47, it was imminent that the Hall Boys Track and Field team had once again carried out a win at the state class meet.

Coach Jeff Billing was honored to win the class meet. Hall’s final score was 103.5. Runner-up Greenwich scored 82 points. “We only had one first place finish today… We only had two second place finishes today. One by Jon York. [Everything else] was from placing third, or fourth, or fifth, or sixth,” coach noted. The sheer amount of boys that Hall has on the team allows for athletes to focus on their main events, not having to compete in multiple events that would be unnecessary and unhealthy for the athlete’s recovery. “Most teams come out to see if they are able to score one point– or two points… We scored almost 70 points without more than one first place finish… That is just amazing,” coach said in his speech after claiming the winning plaque.

After reading this article and thinking to yourself– well, wow. This team is something special and can do crazy things– This upcoming Monday at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, the team returns to compete in the CIAC State Open Track and Field Championship. With other outstanding teams such as Hillhouse, Staples, Norwich Free Academy, and Greenwich, the Open title is something that the team has long dreamt for.