MIDDLETOWN, May 30 – The coaching staff with the Avon High girls track and field team knew that the Falcons would be a contender for the Class MM championships on Wednesday at Middletown High. But they kept that tidbit of information under their hats.
“Our focus was on bettering ourselves individually,” Avon senior Carly Carpino said.
Added Emily Foley, “We weren’t sure things would work out for us.”
Girls head coach Al Dadario and the five other coaches that run the program were aiming to minimize the pressure that the girls would compete under.
The Avon girls went out and performed. They won three individual state championships and had 11 top five finishes as the Falcons captured the CIAC Class MM championship for the second time in three years with an 87-66½ victory over Sheehan of Wallingford.
For the second straight year, Carpino swept the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles races while junior Rhiannon Richmond won the 1,600 meters and took second in the 3,200 meters.
Foley was second in the 800 meters and Audrey Worth was second in pole vault while Carpino (long jump) and Molly Milligan (triple jump) finished third along with the 4×800 meter relay team (Milligan, Foley, Jamie Rubenstein, Brynley Allen).
Two years ago, Avon won their first state championship in girls track, winning by one point. They were second a year ago. On Wednesday, they had 87 points — the most they’ve every scored in a CIAC outdoor championship meet.
“We have a lot of great people who work well together,” Dadario said speaking about the girls on the team and the Falcon coaching staff. Dadario is the head coach of the girls team while David Zlatin is the head coach of the boys team. With Dadario and Zlatin, assistant coaches Matt Mooney, John McLaughlin, C.J. Fusco and Jeff Redman all work together to help both programs.
“This is so exciting,” said Foley, who finished second in the 800 meters and was part of the 4×800 relay that took third. “We all just worked together and pushed every yard and every meter of every race.”
While the coaching staff didn’t talk about state championships, they focused on getting every point they could – a lesson they learned when winning the title in 2016 by a point.
“They said anything can happen and it comes down to every little point,” Foley said. “Every place, everything counts.”
Carpino wanted to repeat as state champion in the hurdles races. She won the 100 hurdles with a school record time of 15.02 seconds despite hitting the last hurdle and stumbling. But she kept her balance and won the race by 0.53 of a second over Nia Christie of St. Joseph of Trumbull.
“I am a lot more confident with hurdling,” Carpino said. “When I hit a hurdle, I don’t freak out anymore. I just tried to stay on my feet and finish strong in those last 10 meters.”
Carpino won her second consecutive Class MM title in the 300 hurdles, winning with a time of 46.60 seconds, beating North Haven’s Giselle Zumerchikduo. Carpino was also third in the long jump. (17-5)
Richmond beat Brookfield’s Juliet Bussell by more than three seconds to win the 1,600 meters in 5:18.91. But in the 3,200 meters, Bussell passed Richmond with about 500 meters remaining and pulled away for the victory, winning by 13 seconds. Richmond was second in 11:35.36 with Sara Leavens taking fourth with a time of 11:46.70.
Foley ran her fastest time of the season in the 800 meters – 2:22.98, which was a little more than three seconds faster than her best time of the season in the 800. Worth had a personal-best leap of ten feet in the pole vault to finish second.
Leavens also earned points for the Falcons by finishing fifth in the 1,600 meters (5:32.80) while Molly Milligan finished third in the triple jump (35-0 ¾) and sixth in the 400 meters (1:01.07). Hayley Dougela finished eighth in the high jump (4-10) and seventh in the 100 hurdles (16.53) to score points for the Falcons.
It’s the sixth state championship for a Dadario coached team at Avon. Four of his girls cross country teams won state titles to go along with two track crowns.
“They are all rewarding,” Dadario said. “You never know when it will come again. We always tell the kids to savor these moments.”
The Avon High boys also competed at the Class MM meet and finished 24th with seven points.
Matt Nyklicek took fifth in the 1,600 meters in 4:38.45 while Anish Rajamanickam finished sixth in the 400 meters with a time of 51.86 seconds.
Other top finishes came from Rajamanickam, who was 11th in the 200 meters (23.42), Daniel Rock, who was 11th in the discus (116-04), Nyklicek, who was 10th in the 3,200 meters (10:19.96), Zach Tilsch, who was 14th in the long jump (19-5¾) and Thomas Howard, who was 17th in the pole vault with a leap of 11-0 feet.