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Botelho beats Carpino in final event to win second straight CIAC heptathlon

The top six finishers at Wednesday’s CIAC heptathlon. From left, Griswold’s Kalli’Ana Botelho (1), Avon’s Carly Carpino (2), St. Joseph’s Nia Christie (3), New Milford’s Darcy Cook (4), Bacon Academy’s Jessica Savage (5) and Watertown’s Morgan Dodge (6). (Photo courtesy David Zlatin)

MANCHESTER, June 13 – Sometimes your best isn’t good enough. Avon High senior Carly Carpino had personal-best performances in three of seven events in the CIAC heptathlon on Tuesday and Wednesday at Manchester High School.

With strong performances in the long jump and javelin on Wednesday, Carpino had an 18-point lead over defending  heptahlon Kalli’Ana Botelho of Griswold going into the final event of the heptathlon – the 800 meters.

Carpino had a personal-best time of 2:34.61 in the 800 but Botelho beat her by four seconds and rallied to win her second straight CIAC heptahlon championship. Botelho earned 4,149 points to beat Carpino, who had a school record 4,114 points, by 35 points.

Avon’s Matt Nyklicek set a new school record in the 2,000 meter steeplechase, finishing third while Canton’s Jane Frawley took third in the girls 2,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 7:31.71 seconds.

Canton’s Max Sparks finished third in the boys 3,000 meter steeplechase while teammate Aidan O’Donnell took fifth.

It was an outstanding conclusion to a high school career for Carpino, who swept the 100 and 300 meter hurdles at the Class MM championship meet for two straight years and was third in the CIAC heptahlon a year ago.

Botelho and Carpino battled throughout the heptahlon. They were the top two finishers in the 100 hurdles with Botelho, who captured the New England championship on Saturday, winning in 15.28 seconds with Carpino second with a time of 15.91. Botelho was second in the high jump with Carpino finishing fifth with a personal-best leap of 4-10¼ feet.

Carpino picked up some points on Botelho with her third place finish in the shot (30-11 feet). Botelho was eleventh. Botelho closed out the first day by taking second in the 200 meters (26.14) with Carpino finishing third (27.12). After the first day, Botelho had a 199-point lead.

On Wednesday, Carpino was eighth in the long jump with a leap of 15-7¾ while Botelho finished tenth. Carpino fouled on her first two attempts before making a legal jump on her third and final attempt to earn the necessary points to remain in contention.

In the javelin, Carpino took the lead for the first time. Her personal-best throw of 95-11 feet was second overall while Botelho finished 17th to see up the climatic run in the 800 meters to win the event.

Canton’s Madeline Archangelo and Avon’s Hayley Dougela also competed in the heptahlon with Archangelo finishing 17th overall with 3,077 points and Dougela finishing 31st with 2,693 points.

Archangelo had a pair of top 10 finishes in the high jump (tenth, 4-8½) and the javelin (eighth, 79-01) while Dougela was tenth in the high jump with a leap of 4-8½.

Nyklicek won his heat in the 2,000 steeplechase by 1.22 seconds with a time of 6:38.97 to finish third behind Nonnewaug’s Elias Field (6:34.97) and Coginchaug’s Sean McMaster (6:34.16).

In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Old Saybrook’s Shane Henderson and Nonnewaug’s Eddie Nichols ran away from the field early. Henderson won with a time of 9:48.76 with Nichols taking second in 9:55.46.

Sparks and O’Donnell moved up throughout the race with Sparks making a strong surge midway through the race to move into the front pack with O’Donnell coming along behind him. Henderson and Nichols pulled away from the rest of the field. Sparks finished with a personal-best time of 10:07.08 in third place with O’Donnell also getting a personal-best time of 10:14.97 to finish fifth. Those are two of the top three times in school history.

The girls 2,000 meter steeplechase had a very competitive field with three-time defending champion Mary Bibbey of Nonnewaug and Guilford’s Jacqueline Guerra, the Class L champion in the 1,600 meters. Bibbey and Guerra made the race their own early, running away from the field with a blistering pace.

Guerra wore down Bibbey, winning the race in 7:16.97. Frawley stuck to her game plan and remained in the second group behind the leaders. By midway of the race, she was in third place and gaining ground of Bibbey but there was too much ground to make up. Bibbey finished second in 7:28.21 with Frawley finishing third in 7:31.71 – the best ever finish for a Canton girl in a State Open event.

Avon’s Emily Foley finished seventh in 2,000 steeplechase with a time of 7:46.83 while Canton’s Emma Gallant was 30th with a time of 8:32.55.

Three athletes competed in the decathlon led by Avon sophomore Anish Rajamanickam, who finished 22nd with 4,211 points. He did well in the running events with three top 10 finishes in the 400 meters (fourth, 52.53), 1,500 meters (fifth, 4:47.93) and 100 meters (seventh, 11.93). He took 18th in the 110 hurdles (19.16).

Canton’s Michael Cavanaugh was 30th with 2,330 points with Brandon LaClair finishing 39th with 2,003 points. Neither qualified to participate on day two.

LaClair lost points by not clearing a height in the high jump. His best finish was 15th place in the 100 meters (12.06 seconds). Cavanaugh’s best finish was 28th in the high jump (5-0¼).

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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