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Canton has talented athletes returning as they eye NCCC indoor track crowns

Canton’s Maddie Archangelo races in a relay race at the recent Hillhouse Invitational in New Haven at the Floyd Little Athletic Center. She tied the school indoor record in the long jump at the meet. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

CANTON, January 5 – A year ago, the Canton High girls indoor track and field team won their first-ever conference championship, beating Ellington to capture the North Central Connecticut Conference title before finishing seventh in Class S – their best-ever finish. The boys team finished a distant second behind Ellington in the NCCC and 15th in Class S.

Both teams were not too big a year ago and that hasn’t changed this season, either. There are 16 girls and 22 boys running indoor track for the Warriors this winter.

The girls and boys teams do have some excellent athletes that will contend for NCCC titles and perhaps Class S titles. It’s hard to predict at this time what the teams will be able to accomplish.

Seniors Max Sparks and Aiden O’Donnell lead a solid core of runners. Both ran cross country in the fall. Sparks won the Class SS title and earned top 10 finishes at the State Open and New England championships. O’Donnell wasn’t too far behind.

Canton’s Nick Lagonigro races at the Hillhouse Invitational in New Haven. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

Sparks and O’Donnell have already gotten off to a good start this season. Sparks won the 1,000 and 3,200 at the Old Saybrook qualifier on Dec. 21. Sparks time of 9:55.06 at the Jack Long Invitational is the No. 1 time so far this season in Class S. O’Donnell cut 12 seconds off his previous best indoor time in the 3,200 at the Jack Long Invitational and that time of 10:16.76 is ranked No. 4 in Class S.

Sophomore Peter Fuller is competing with the indoor team for the first time. He tied the indoor school record in the high jump with a leap of 6-0 feet to finish tied for second place at the Jack Long Invitational at Hillhouse. Six days earlier, he won the Old Saybrook qualifier with a leap of 5-10.

The sprint medley relay teams (100, 200, 400 meter legs) with Sparks, O’Donnell, Brandon LaClair and David Tsimbouskis finished third at the Old Saybrook qualifier with Canton’s 4×400 relay (James Szpekman, Andrew Obrzut, Sparks, O’Donnell) was second with a time of 4:00.72.

The boys team finished third at the Old Saybrook qualifier behind Old Saybrook (76.8) and University High out of Hartford with 57½ points. Canton was third with 54, just ahead of Suffield (53) and Woodstock Academy (50.3).

Canton freshman Julia Caputo races in a relay race at the Hillhouse Invitational. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

The girls team, the defending NCCC champions, lost several quality athletes with indoor and outdoor experience (Amber Harraden, Emily Mitchell, Elizabeth Raynor,, Abby Briggs, Cami McCauley, Sofia Langou, Jocelyn Rossitto) but head coach Tim O’Donnell said a large group of freshmen and other newcomers have solidified the roster.

Sophomore Chelsea Mitchell was the top sprinters in Class S a year ago and is still running fast. She was second in the 55 meters at the Old Saybrook qualifier with a time of 7.59 seconds and took second in the 300 meters at the Old Saybrook (44.93) and Jack Long Invitational (44.24). She was fourth in the long jump (15-3) at Jack Long. She is currently ranked No. 3 in Class S in the 55 and 300 meters.

Junior Maddie Archangelo tied the school record in the high jump with leaps of 4-10 at the Old Saybrook and Jack Long meets. It was good enough for first place at Old Saybrook. Archangelo shares the school record with Lucy Tanner.

Junior Helena Winkler was fourth in the 1,600 meters at the Jack Long meet with a time of 5:41.21, the fourth best thus far in Class S, and fourth in the 3,200 meters at Old Saybrook with a time of 12:39.14. Senior Jane Frawley was third in the 1,600 meters at Old Saybrook with a time of 5:42.81 and was eighth in the 1,000 meters at Jack Long.

Junior Helena Winkler is one of the veteran runners returning for the defending league champion Warriors. (Photo courtesy Bill Brewster)

Freshman Julia Caputo had a good debut season this fall in cross country. She has picked up where she left off. She won the 3,200 meters at the Jack Long Invitational in 11:43.95, beating Avon’s Haley Gens by four seconds. That is the No. 2 time at this point in Class S. Caputo was fourth in the 1,600 at Old Saybrook, five seconds behind Frawley.

Freshman Maya Sutton-Hall was fourth in the 300 meters at the Old Saybrook meet with a time 45.96. Emma Gallant was fifth in the 3,200 meters at the same meet.

Canton’s 4×200 relay (Chelsea Mitchell, Archangelo, Kaylia Bailey, Sutton-Hall) won the 4×200 at the Old Saybrook meet with a time of 1:53.50, the No. 3 ranked time in Class S at this time.

At the Jack Long meet, the 4×800 relay (Caputo, Winkler, Frawley, Lila Hunt) finished second with a time of 10:55.87, currently No. 4 in Class S.

The girls finished second at the Old Saybrook meet behind the host Rams, 84-68. Cromwell was third with 46 points followed by Watertown with 40.

The Warriors return to action on Saturday, January 13 when they compete in the SCC Coaches Invitational at Hillhouse in New Haven. The NCCC championship meet is Tuesday, January 30 at 4 p.m. at Hillhouse in New Haven.

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.

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