by Tyler Roaix
The Central Connecticut track and field team opened up its outdoor season this past weekend on a high note, continuing the momentum it built throughout the indoor season. The Blue Devils made their presence known at the Black and Gold Invitational, hosted by Bryant, an event that featured 13 different universities from all over the Northeast.
The outdoor season brings the return of the javelin throw, an event Central was well-represented in this weekend. Sophomore Gianna D’Amato finished third in the event with a throw of 40.76 meters, easily beating her previous personal best of 33.62 meters. Junior Abrah Toomey also competed, finishing eighth with a throw of 36.44 meters.
Head coach Eric Blake is pleased to have an added depth going into the outdoor season.
“It was good to have some newcomers back that redshirted during indoors,” Blake said. “We had some fifth-year seniors that didn’t have indoor eligibility that have outdoor eligibility. Melissa Wolliston, Brittany Mendelson were here today so that helped our team. We had redshirts on the guys like Quincy Sanchez and Richard Grudzwick, they’re helping us out. I think that’ll give a good boost to this outdoor season.”
Sanchez came in third in the 110-meter hurdles, while Grudzwick finished 10th in the 800-meter race out of 25 runners.
Wolliston returned to the track in grand fashion, finishing second in the 100-meter hurdles. Teammates Hailey Rospierski and Sierra Nesmith finished first and third in the event, respectively, as the Blue Devils completely occupied the top of the leaderboard.
Rospierski also tied with two other competitors for second place in the high jump, clearing a mark of 1.60 meters.
In the distance runs, Central got off to a hot start in the first event of the season, which is a change from the indoor season. The distance running was the slowest element to develop for Central throughout the indoor season, but the hot start to the outdoor season is something Blake hopes to build off of. Sophomore Megan Brawner was one runner who stood out to Blake this weekend.
“Megan Brawner had an excellent day in the 15 [1,500-meter run] so she continued what she was doing at the end of indoor. She had the 1,000-meter school record and a great 1,500 today.”
Freshman Angie Rafter came in just behind Brawner in the 1,500-meter race, finishing in fourth place. Senior Brittany Mendelson had a strong run in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in third overall out of a field of 42 runners.
Brawner and Rafter were joined by Arianna Taft and McKenna Kilian to finish third in the 4×400-meter relay. The team tallied a time of 4:13.87.
Austin Trainor had a solid race on the men’s side of the 1,500-meter run. He set a new collegiate-best of 3:53.56, good for second place in the race.
Senior distance runner Alex Norstrom capped off the event in style, winning the 5,000-meter run. He dominated the race wire-to-wire, taking the lead within the first few seconds and never relinquishing it.
“Alex in the 5k was looking more to run his 10k pace that he wants to later in the season, so he got the win,” Blake said. “But he really has to do that for twice as long and I think he definitely can do it.”
The outdoor season continues Saturday, April 7 at two separate events. Blake will take a small group of Blue Devils down to Coral Gabels, Florida to take on the Hurricane Alumni Invitational. But most of the team will be in New Haven, CT to participate in the Mark Young Invitational, hosted by Yale.