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Smith wins NCCC title, helps Avon girls finish third

AVON, May 26 – Junior Claire Smith broke open a tight race with a surge in the final two laps of the 3,200 meters at the NCCC championship meet to lead the Avon High girls track team to its best-ever finish. (CORRECTION: It was Avon’s best finish since taking third in 1995).

Smith won the 3,200 for the second time in three years and set a new meet record with her winning time of 11:26.07, breaking the old record set in 2003 by over nine seconds.

Smith was one of three individual champions for Avon, which had six individuals in the top five and finished third overall, just two points behind second-place Suffield (96 points). Tolland ran away with the meet with a league-record 227½ points, winning the meet for the fifth straight year.

Titi VanRiel, who set a new school record in the 400 meters earlier this month, won the 400 meters in 60.34 seconds with teammate Catherine Martin taking fifth in 1:04.41. Brianna Noonan beat teammate Alyssa Burton in the high jump. Both jumped five feet but Noonan won because Burton had more misses at lower heights.

It was the first time since 2003 that Avon had three individual league champions.

Depth helped the Falcons (12-2, 11-2 NCCC) rise to the top of the league.

Sarah Kelly finished second in the 800 with a time of 2:26.87. Smith, who was seeded seventh in the 1,600 meters, sprinted the last 50 meters, to finish second. VanRiel took second in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 10 inches.

Kristina Shayler finished third in the 100 meters (13.76 seconds) while teammates Chloe Kryspin (sixth) and Sara Fink (eighth) each scored points. Kathleen Skcerniarz (fifth) scored in the javelin while Heather Bowman and Kara Peters were sixth and seventh in the pole vault.

Avon’s 1,600-meter relay team (VanRiel, Emily Kelly, Lindsay McNarmara, Martin) took fourth place in 4:23.31.

The Falcons will compete at the Class MM championships on Monday.

The Avon boys (10-4, 9-4 NCCC) finished sixth. Brandon Burciaga was second in the javelin and third in the shot (42-4). He lost the javelin on the final throw of the event by Tolland’s Parker Ashton-Young with a 159-4, beating Burciaga’s throw of 155 feet.

Avon’s John Drago set a new school record in the 3,200 meters with a time of 9:58.48 but he fell to Tolland’s Ryan King, who won by nearly six seconds.

Greg Rendeiro was third in the triple jump with a leap of 37 feet and sixth in the long jump (17-8). Dave Doebler was third in the 400 meters (53.16), just a 0.04 second out of second place. He also was eighth in the 200 meters.

Eric Stevens finished fifth in the high jump (5-8), Drago took seventh in the 800 meters and Rob Carver was sixth in the javelin.

Complete 2009 NCCC championship results

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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