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Canton boys, Avon girls act like contenders in opening day meet

race start CP 8593

The race begins in the 1,600 meter run in Wednesday’s dual meet in Avon. Canton’s Matt DeMarco, second from the right, won the race.

AVON, April 3 – On a cold and windy afternoon, two contenders for the NCCC championship in track and field showed why they will be in the hunt for the league title in May.

The Canton High boys and Avon High girls squads used their depth to open their seasons with a pair of wins Wednesday in a three-meet with Coventry.

With victories in eight of 18 individual events, the Canton boys beat host Avon, 96-45 and Coventry, 111-34 to extend its dual meet winning streak to 27 in a row dating back to 2011. The Falcons salvaged a split with a 81-60 decision over Coventry.

In the girls competition, Avon won 11 of 18 events to earn a 99-50 win over Coventry and a 110.75 to 38.3 win over Canton. The Warriors beat Coventry, 85-54 to pick up a victory.

The Canton boys are looking for their third straight NCCC championship and will be a contender for the Class S championship as well. Last year’s Class S state champion Northwest Catholic and perennial contender Bloomfield moved up to Class M.

“We should be competitive,” Canton High coach Tim O’Donnell said. “But I’m being cautious. We haven’t got much data yet.”

The Warriors have some talented athletes. Senior Matt Graziano is a returning State Open and New England champion in the discus. But he also gives Canton the ability to earn points in the shot and discus.

Graziano, who has signed a letter of intent to attend and compete with the University of Connecticut next spring, is aiming for the state record of 189 feet, 11 inches in the discus set 44 years ago in 1969. It is the oldest records in the record book. O’Donnell said Graziano has already thrown that distance in practice.

Junior Devin Glasson should also give Canton points in the shot put, discus and javelin. Senior Julian Franklin returns in the jumping events (high jump, triple jump, long jump) with senior teammate Deryk Parsons

Junior Keith Wilson gives Canton strength in the hurdles and sprints while senior Matt DeMarco, the former baseball player, has been strong in middle distance races. DeMarco won the 800 and 1,600 meter races against Avon and Coventry.

Senior Jim Spatcher, junior Colin Martin, sophomore James Yost and senior Keith Loureiro provide the Warriors with depth and the ability to pick up points in several events.

“We would like to win the conference,” O’Donnell said. And if the athletes progress over the course of the spring campaign, they could be in position to contend for a state championship.

In the dual meet sweep of Avon and Coventry, the Warriors won the 4×100 and 4×400 relays. Wilson swept the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles races with sophomore teammate Coleman Daly finishing second in both races.

The Avon High girls track team finished tied with Granby for second place in the league a year ago behind Suffield, which won its third straight league championship.

The Falcons hope to use their strength on the track to win its first league title since 2010 and perhaps take its first outright title since 1989. Avon and Suffield shared the league championship in 2010.

A core group of runners that helped Avon win a Class MM championship in cross country in the fall and its first NCCC indoor track title this winter are on the track.

Junior Sara Stokesbury and sophomores Molly Hamel and Maddi McHugh are on the squad. Hamel is the defending NCCC champion in the 3,200 meters. McHugh won the 800 and 1,600 meters in the win over Canton and Coventry.

Avon has plenty of solid athletes all over the field. Caroline Rendeiro returns in the high jump while sprinters Stephanie Koo, Tara Shayler and Chamiyah Rowland return. Sarah Kate Mascoli. Hurdlers Alannah Noonan and Maeve Reiss are back while newcomer Jamie LePito gives Avon the chance for points in the shot, discus and javelin.

“We can do a little bit of everything,” Avon coach Al Dadario said. “As usual, we’re solid on the track.” That depth gives Avon the chance to pick up a lot of points in the running events and in relays.

The Falcons also look to have athletes who can pick up points in the field events, which will be necessary if they hope to beat Suffield and hold off contending teams from Granby and Ellington. Avon hosts Suffield on April 30 at home.

The Avon High boys have some talented athletes but aren’t deep enough to contend for a league title. Runners Colin Ponzani, Cori DiBacco, Justin Alessio and Connor Wise look to be competitive along with jumper Jake Sartain, who won three events against Canton and Coventry. Sartain swept the high jump (5-4), long jump (19-3½) and triple jump (40-0). DiBacco won the 400 meters.

The Falcons were 11-3 a year ago and 10-3 in the league.

The Canton High girls have a little over a dozen girls on the squad. Some will do well but there isn’t enough to contend in the league. Look for Anna Waite (shot, discus, javelin) to make some noise along with Sarah Allen (jumping events) and Lucy Tanner and Alex Martin (hurdles). The Warriors hope to build on a 6-7 record from a year ago.

BOYS
Canton 96, Avon 45
Canton 111, Coventry 34
Avon 81, Coventry 60
At Avon
4×800: Avon (Dan Innes, Justin Alessio, Ben Crawford, Corey DiBacco), 8:53.9, Canton, Avon B
4×100: Canton (Keith Loureiro, Deryk Parsons, Colin Martin, Cam Daley) 47.97, Avon, Coventry
100: Tommy Myers (Co) 11.81, Kevin Smart (Co), Scott Frederick (A)
200: Keith Wilson (Ca) 23.72
400: Cory DiBacco (A) 55.49, Keith Goeben (Ca), Zach Zweibel (A)
800: Matt DeMarco (Ca) 2:13.25, Ben Crawford (A), James Yost (Ca)
1,600: Matt DeMarco (Ca) 4:55.1, Connor Wise (A), James Yost (Ca)
3,200: Alex Norstrom (Co) 10:48
110 hurdles: Keith Wilson (Ca) 15.91, Coleman Daley (Ca), Dan Manzi (Co)
300 hurdles: Keith Wilson (Ca) 43.18, Coleman Daley (Ca), Dan Manzi (Co)
Shot: Tommy Myers (Co) 49-2, Matt Graziano (Ca), Devin Glasson (Ca)
Javelin: Tommy Myers (Co) 185-0
Discus: Matt Graziano (Ca) 162-1, Tommy Myers (Co), Devin Glasson (Ca)
High jump: Jacob Sartain (A) 5-4, Julian Franklin (Ca), Deryk Parsons (Ca)
Long jump: Jacob Sartain (A) 19-3½, Deryk Parsons (Ca), Julian Franklin (Ca)
Triple jump: Jacob Sartain (A) 40-0
Pole vault: no competitors
4×400: Canton (Colin Martin, Matt DeMarco, Keith Goeben, Keith Wilson) 3:51.06
Records: Canton 2-0, 2-0; Avon 1-1, 1-1; Coventry 0-2, 0-2

GIRLS
Avon 99, Coventry 50
Avon 110.75, Canton 38.3
Canton 85, Coventry 54
At Avon
4×800: Avon (Hannah Fusaro, Risa Lewis, Maddi McHugh, Sara Stokesbury) 10:58.9, Coventry, Avon B
4×100: Avon (Stephanie Koo, Amanda Holtzman, Tara Shayler, Emma Schweitzer) 53.09, Canton, Coventry
100: Stephanie Koo (A) 16.84, Tara Shayler (A), Emma Schweitzer (A)
200: Tara Shayler (A) 27.62
400: Stephanie Koo (A) 1:07.8, Colleen Norton (A), Jenna Hanssen (Ca)
800: Maddi McHugh (A)
1,600: Maddi McHugh (A) 5:47.28, Molly Hamel (A) Hannah Goodale (Co)
3,200: Molly Hamel (A) 13:11
110 hurdles: Alanna Noonan (A) 16.84, Meg Oliphant (Co), Lucy Tanner (Ca)
300 hurdles: Meg Oliphant (Co) 51.91, Alex Martin (Ca), Maeve Reiss (A)
Shot: Anna Waite (Ca) 24-5, Katie Riddell (Co), Jamie Lepito (A)
Javelin: Marina Rose (Co) 78-0
Discus: Katie Riddell (Co) 74-0, Anna Waite (Ca), Sierra Politz (A)
High jump: Kaleigh Sherman (A) 4-6, Bebudiel (Co), Sarah Allen (Ca)
Long jump: Erica Truden (Co) 14-7½, Marina Rose (Co), Sarah Allen (Ca)
Triple jump: Erica Truden (Co) 32-0½, Marina Rose (Co), Maeve Reiss (A)
Pole vault: Quijano (A)
4×400: Avon 4:37.01
Records: Avon 2-0, 2-0, Canton 1-1, 1-1, Coventry 0-2, 0-2

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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