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Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell is named girls track athlete of the year

Canton junior Chelsea Mitchell, left, who was recognized as the girls state track athlete of the year, standings with Canton High track and field coach Tim O’Donnell.

SOUTHINGTON, June 19 – Canton junior Chelsea Mitchell was selected as the girls track athlete of the year on Wednesday at the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s All-State banquet at the Aqua Turf.

She was one of four athletes honored at the 20th annual banquet. Xavier’s Robbie Cozean was named the boys track athlete of the year while NFA’s Allyson Lewis was the girls field athlete of the year and Brien McMahon’s Justin Forde was the boys field athlete of the year.

Mitchell won her first New England championship in the 100 meters at the New England championships earlier this month in Saco, Maine, beating Windsor’s Cory Richardson for the second straight week. A week earlier, she became the first girl in school history to capture a CIAC State Open title with her victory in the 100 meters with a school record time of 11.67 seconds.

She competed in three events at the New England championships and State Open. She earned All-New England honors in the 100 meters, 200 meters, where she was fifth, and in the long jump, where she finished sixth. At the State Open, Mitchell won the 100 meters, took fourth in the 200 and was second in the long jump. She was the Class S champion in the long jump.

“I didn’t really expect it. But I am very honored to receive this,” Mitchell said of her state athlete of the year award.

She is believed to be the second Canton athlete to be honored as the state athlete of the year in their respective sport by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. Emily Briggs was named the girls basketball player of the year in 2016-17 by the CHSCA.

Chelsea Mitchell, shown at the NCCC championships in May, won three events at the NCCC meet.

A week after the New England championships, Mitchell set a new school record in the long jump at the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoors track and field meet at the University of North Carolina AT&T in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Mitchell finished second in the long jump in the emerging elite competition with a school record leap of 19-3¼ feet and finished 21st in the championship division of the 100 meters with a time of 11.87 seconds – her second-best time – to finish in the top 25.

In her heat of the 100 meters, Mitchell was racing against Tamari Davis of Gainsville, Florida, who won a national title in the 200 meters at the New Balance Nationals Indoor championships in March. But Davis strained her hamstring during the race and fell to the track screaming in pain.

Mitchell continued to run. “She stopped in the race,” Mitchell said. “She was way ahead of me but she fell and she was screaming.”

Mitchell kept her focus. “I don’t know how,” she admitted. “I was in the lane right next to here but I was trying to get a good time so I kept going.”

In the long jump, Mitchell won her flight with a leap of 18-8½ feet. But she was in the first flight and had to nervously watch competitors from three other flights try to qualify. She earned one of eight spots in the final.

Mitchell made one of her first two jumps in the finals. Once, two of her closest competitors had their third and final jump, Mitchell knew she had secured a medal.

“I was little more relaxed and I had a huge tailwind behind me,” she said as she leaped a school-record 19-3¼ on her final jump in the competition.

That actually tied her with Stephanie Simon of Chelsea, Mass., for the longest jump in the competition. The tiebreaker is your second longest jump and Simon leaped 19-3¼ in the preliminary round while Mitchell’s second longest jump was 18-8½ so Mitchell finished second.

Canton coach Tim O’Donnell added with a smile, “It’s a skill to know when to jump, too.”

Earlier in his teaching career, Steve Wysowski was the boys cross country coach at Canton and then athletic director.

An old friend was also in attendance at the All-State banquet – Dr. Steve Wysowski, an administrator of the CIAC’s girls outdoor track and field committee, who was the master of ceremonies.

Early in his teaching career, Wysowski was the boys cross country coach at Canton for several years in the early 1990s before serving as athletic director in Canton.

After leaving Canton, he was an assistant principal in Watertown before serving as principal at Coginchaug Regional in Durham for 10 years. He three years as principal at Bristol Eastern before retiring in 2013.

Wysowski spent three years working in the CIAC’s Central Office in Cheshire as an assistant executive director before retiring in 2017.

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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