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McHugh, Wilson each finish second at rainy, wet State Open

Avon's Maddi McHugh leads Granby's Cynthia Jones and teammate Sara Stokesbury in the 800 meters at the NCCC tournament.

Avon’s Maddi McHugh leads Granby’s Cynthia Jones and teammate Sara Stokesbury in the 800 meters at the NCCC tournament.

It wasn’t raining all afternoon at the State Open track and field championships at Middletown High. But you never had time to dry off.

Still, three Avon High athletes and two individuals and a relay team from Canton earned tickets to Saturday’s New England championships at Bridgewater State by finishing in the top six in their respective events.

Avon junior Maddi McHugh finished second in the 800 meters, senior Justin Reichler had a career-best leap to finish fourth in the long jump while senior Jake Sartain finished fifth in the triple jump.

For Canton, senior Keith Wilson was second in the 300 intermediate hurdles while sophomore Lucy Tanner became the first Canton girls to earn a trip to the New England championships by finishing sixth in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

Canton 4×400 boys relay team (Cam Daley, Colin Martin, Nico Tuccillo, Wilson) finished fifth – the best-ever finish for a Warrior relay team at the State Open. 

“It wasn’t a steady rain but it was raining more times than it wasn’t and there were some heavy rains,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell said.

Last week, McHugh was third in Class MM in the 800 with a school record time of 2:14.85, about four seconds behind Wilbur Cross’ Danae Rivers. This time, McHugh was able to close the gap but her time of 2:15.52 was about a second behind Rivers (2:14.4). It was an outstanding day for Rivers, who upset Staples’ Hannah DeBalsi by 0.05 of a second to win the 1,600 meters earlier in the meet.

McHugh’s second place finish is the best individual performance by an Avon girl at the State Open since Anne Lindsay won her third straight State Open title in the discus in 1975. Kay Lindsay was third in the discus in 1983 and Hadley Fitzgerald was fourth in the 1,600 meters in 1994.

“She ran a heck of a race,” Avon High coach Al Dadario said.

Keith Wilson, center, on the way to winning the 200 meter championship at the NCCC meet.

Keith Wilson, center, on the way to winning the 200 meter championship at the NCCC meet.

Canton’s Keith Wilson just missed qualifying for the finals in the 110 hurdles, finishing tenth , 0.12 of a second off the pace.

But Wilson ran well in the 300 intermediate hurdles, finishing second in 39.50, just 0.35 of a second behind State Open champion Tyler Latham of Fitch in Groton. Wilson was 0.13 a head of New Britain’s Stephon Henry in third place.

It is the best finish by a Canton runner at the State Open. Matt Graziano won two Open titles in the discus in 2012 and 2013.

Justin Reichler leaps in a meet earlier this spring.

Justin Reichler leaps in a meet earlier this spring.

Fighting a cold, Avon’s Reichler set a personal best in the long jump with his leap of 21 feet, 4¾ inches, topping his previous best of 19-11½ at last week’s Class MM championships, good enough for fourth place. Reichler, who is competing in track for the first time, was a quarter inch behind Windsor’s Xavier Charles in third place.

It’s the best performance for an Avon boy at the State Open since 2001 when Geoff Atkins was fourth in the 200 meters.

Sartain earned a medal at the State Open for the second straight year. Last spring, he was eighth in the triple jump. On Monday, he was fifth with a career-high leap of 42 feet, 10 inches. He was fourth in Class MM last week.

Canton’s 4×400 relay was two seconds slower (3:26.84) than they ran a week ago when they won the Class S championship with a school record time of 3:24.06. But in the rain and chilly temperatures, it was pretty good run to finish fifth.

Tanner was the first Canton girl to earn a medal at the State Open with her sixth place finish in the 300 hurdles. Her time of 47.48 wasn’t too much slower than her time of 47.19 she turned in at last week’s Class S championship meet. Tanner was seeded 14th in the race. Tanner also took 17th in the 100 hurdles.

Canton’s Eliza Chekas was 25th in the 3,200 meters while the Canton 4×800 relay (freshman Emily Briggs, Chekas, senior Emily Jarka, freshman Abby Briggs) was 24th. Canton’s 4×100 relay (freshman Emily Mitchell, freshman Amber Harraden, senior Alex Martin, Tanner) was 24th. This was the first time for a Canton girl to compete at the State Open.

For the Canton boys, Daley was 20th in the javelin, Devin Glasson was 17th  in the shot and John Graziano was 23rd in the discus.

For Avon, Molly Hamel was 15th in the 3,200 meters and Kaely Quijano (pole vault) couldn’t clear the opening height of 9-feet, six inches in the wet conditions. Avon’s 4×100 relay team (McHugh, Tara Shayler, Carly Regalado, Jennifer Koo) finished 24th.

The Avon girls finished 27th with eight points while the Canton girls were 57th, scoring points for the first time in team history. The Canton boys were 17th with 12 points while the Avon boys were 27th with nine points.

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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