by Tyler Roaix
Coming off of a strong opening to the outdoor season at Bryant last week, Central’s track and field team shook things up, splitting the team between three separate events. But the shakeup didn’t waver the team, as the Blue Devils represented well at all three events.
The weekend began at the Sam Howell Invitational in Princeton, NJ on Friday. Just two Blue Devils made the trip, senior Austin Trainor and junior Madeline Mondo. Both gave strong showings in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, with Trainor finishing fourth on the men’s side and Mondo finishing seventh for the women.
Assistant coach Ray Lapinski called the performances “very well” for both Trainor and Mondo.
The Blue Devils then took part in two separate events on Saturday. Head coach Eric Blake led a group down to the Hurricane Alumni Invitational in Coral Gabels, FL, while Lapinski took the rest of the team to the Mark Young Invitational in New Haven, CT.
In Florida, sophomores Richard Grudzwick and Akiel Smith were the stars of the show for the men. Grudzwick won the 800-meter run with a time of 1:53.19. Smith posted a top-10 finish in the 100-meter dash, finishing in 10.58 seconds.
The women also put forth a great showing. Junior Sierra Nesmith finished sixth in the 400-meter hurdles, while senior Melissa Wolliston and sophomore Hailey Rospierski placed 15th and 18th, respectively, in the 100-meter hurdles. Junior McKenna Kilian rounded out the Blue Devils’ effort with a 12th-place finish in the heptathlon.
In New Haven, the men continued the momentum they built last week. Senior Darryn Horner won the 100-meter dash in 11.06 seconds. Freshman Darius Wise took fourth in the 100-meter, while also finishing sixth in the 200-meter dash. Central’s 4-by-400 relay team of Jack St. Clair, Adonys Langual, Quincy Sanchez and Matt Baum finished runner-up with a time of 3:26.94.
The men shined in the field events also. Amaziah Gadson came in second in the high jump, clearing a mark of 1.95 meters. Sam Borecki continued a strong senior campaign with a second-place finish in the pole vault. Tyler Latham and Kevorni Welsh also finished one-two in the long jump, with Latham winning out by just .07 meters.
On the track, the women followed the men’s suit with a solid effort. Erica Snape finished second in the 100-meter dash with a 12.64 sprint. Megan Brawner and Angie Rafter took the top two spots, respectively, in the 800-meter run, while Kaitlyn Stevens posted a modest time of 12:55.96 in her first ever time running the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Brawner, Rafter, Kiley Rodriguez and Ariana Taft then teamed up for a fourth-place finish in the 4-by-400 relay.
Blue Devil success carried over onto the field for the women. Celine Delice, Valeria Hernandez and Abigail NcNab all had solid finishes of 10th, 12th and 13th, respectively, in the discus. Abrah Toomey finished eighth in the hammer throw with a mark of 41.85, while Gianna D’Amato won the javelin competition with a throw of 38.91 meters.
Lapinski was very happy with his team’s performance, highlighting the team’s fight against adversity.
“With some people indoors, the team is split up even more and you don’t have the support of all your teammates. It was also like 35 degrees and a little snow when we got here early this morning,” Lapinski said. “So, we’re dealing with a lot of adversity out here, but it’s track and field in New England, so this tends to be what happens.”
Lapinski shared that this point in the season is a good point to evaluate what events their athletes are their best at and try to tailor their skills to those events. Nana Kissi was just one example Lapinski gave.
“Nana [Kissi], for example, he PR’ed today in the shot put and he’s an exceptional javelin thrower,” Lapinski said. “But he’s been struggling with the hammer and disc. So maybe we make that decision to focus on the shot and jav.”
Lapinski said that this early in the season, the goal is really to see where the athletes are at and go from there.
“You do what you can do, you evaluate and you make adjustments and move on,” Lapinski said.
Looking ahead, the Blue Devils will be splitting up again next weekend. Blake will lead a group to the Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The rest of the squad will go with Lapinski to the UConn Home Meet in Storrs, CT.