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Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell wins State Open title in long jump, takes 3rd in 55 meters

Junior Chelsea Mitchell is the first Canton athlete to win a State Open title in indoor track. (Photo courtesy Mitchell family)

NEW HAVEN, February 16 – Junior Chelsea Mitchell became the first Canton athlete to win a State Open championship in indoor track and field Saturday with her victory in the long jump.

She is also the first athlete in school history to have a pair of top five finishes at the State Open, too, having finished third in the 55 meter dash.

Teammate Peter Fuller took fourth in the high jump – the best-ever finish for a Canton boy at the State Open indoor track and field championships.

Avon’s Rhiannon Richmond also earned a top 10 finish by finishing fifth in the 3,200 meters.

A week earlier, Mitchell won the long jump at the Class S championships with a leap of 17-8½ feet, securing the title with her final leap of the competition. It was a similar effort at the State Open.

After one of three jumps in the finals, Fairfield Ludlowe’s Tess Stapleton had the lead with a leap of 18-1¾ feet. But on her second jump of the finals, Mitchell soared 18-4¾ to take a three inch lead.

On her final jump, Mitchel extended her lead another inch with a school-record jump of 18-5½. Stapleton finished second at 18-1¾ with Danbury’s Meilee Kay (17-7½) finishing third.

In the 55 meters, Mitchell finished third with a school-record time of 7.23 seconds.

Bloomfield’s Terry Miller became the second girl in state history to run under seven seconds in the 55 meters with her winning time of 6.95 seconds, breaking the record set by Bloomfield’s Cassidy Palmer (6.99) two years ago in 2017. Cromwell’s Andraya Yearwood was second with a time of 7.01 seconds.

Mitchell ran hard to the finish to earn her bronze medal. Conard’s Kate Shaffer (7.24) and Hillhouse’s Ayesha Nelson (7.26) were just behind Mitchell in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Mitchell earned 16 points in her two events, good enough for Canton to finish ninth as a team – their best-ever finish at the State Open. Bloomfield won the title with 54 points followed by Glastonbury (39). Danbury (34) and Hillhouse (32).

Fuller finished fourth in the high jump with a leap of 6-foot-2. He cleared the 6-0 height on his third and final attempt to advance. It’s the best finish for a Canton boy at the State Open. Matt Graziano was fifth in the shot in 2013 and Keith Wilson was fifth in the 55 hurdles in 2014.

Richmond ran a personal best time (indoors) of 11:14.98 in the 3,200 meters to finish fifth and qualify for the upcoming New England championships on March 2 in Boston. She cut 18 seconds off her previous best indoor time in the event.

“Her race on Saturday was an achievement for a lot of different reasons, chief among them being that she hadn’t been under 11:30 all season,” Avon High coach Courtney Fusco said. “The big takeaway is that when it’s time to compete, she’s able to find another gear.”

Richmond’s performance is the best by an individual for the Avon girls at the State Open. The previous best medal was a sixth place medal earned by Molly Hamel in the 3,200 meters in 2015. Avon’s 4×800 relay team did finish fifth in 2013.

The top six finishers in each event earned an invitation to the New England championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

Canton’s Madeline Archangelo competed at the State Open taking 16th in the 55 meter hurdles with a time 9.80 seconds. Avon’s Jack Martin competed in the 1,600 meters and finished 11th with a time of 4:43.16 while teammate Max Raha was 13th in the long jump with a leap of 19-11 1/4.

Avon’s 4×800 relay team (Martin, Alvin Guo, Hari Patchigolla, Anish Rajamanickham) was disqualified from the race. The Falcon coaching staff made a mistake and had an alternate on the team that had competed in three events at the Class M championships. Athletes are limited to just three events.

Martin had one more race to run. His outstanding time of 4:29 in the 1,600 meters at the Class M championship meet earned him an invitation to the New Balance Indoor Nationals in the Freshman Mile. The nationals will be March 8-10 in New York City at the New Balance Armory and Track and Field Center.

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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