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Mitchell, the fastest girl in Connecticut, wins State Open title in 55 meters

Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell won the third State Open championship of her career by taking the 55 meters Saturday in New Haven. (Photo courtesy

NEW HAVEN, February 22, 2020 – Canton’s Chelsea Mitchell is the fastest girl in Connecticut. And she proved it again Saturday at the State Open indoor track and field championships.

Mitchell won her first outdoor track State Open championship in June when she won the 100 meters and followed that up a week later with a New England championship in the 100 meters.

In the fastest sprint race on the scholastic indoor track and field schedule, Mitchell again won a State Open championship in the 55 meters with a winning time of 7.15 seconds. She beat Haddam-Killingworth’s Kedarjah Lewis, who was second with a time of 7.31 seconds, and Bloomfield’s Terry Miller, who was third with a time of 7.37 seconds.

It was another outstanding day for Mitchell, who finished fourth in the 300 meters and second in the long jump to secure invitations to Saturday’s New England championships in Boston. The top six finishers in each event are eligible run in Boston.

Mitchell’s performances helped Canton finish tied for third in the State Open with Greenwich and Ledyard with 22 points. Glastonbury easily won the championship with 54 points with Weston taking second with 37 points at the Floyd Little Athletic Center on the campus of Hillhouse High. It was the best performance ever for the Warriors as a team at the Open.

Peter Fuller took third in the high jump for the Warriors while Julia Caputo was eighth in the 3,200 meters.

“While (Chelsea) didn’t have any personal record, a day where she ran her second fastest 55 meters, her second fastest 300 (meters) and her third best day in the long jump is a pretty good day,” Canton High coach Tim O’Donnell said. “I would say her triple outdid anyone else’s performance the girls meet.”

As she did a week ago in winning the Class S championship, it was Mitchell with the good start that gave her the lead from the beginning in the 55 meter race and she remained strong throughout.

A year ago, Mitchell won the long jump at the State Open but on Saturday, Fairfield Ludlowe’s Jess Stapleton leaped 19-6 on her final leap of the qualifying round to take the lead and held on to beat Mitchell.

Mitchell had the lead after jumping 19-0¾ on her first jump of the day. But she couldn’t top that initial jump nor Stapleton’s outstanding leap. Joel Barlow’s Mariell Schweitzer was a distant third with a leap of 17-10.

“In the long jump, we witnessed a true rarity in Connecticut track and field, a duel between two jumpers (who could leap 19 feet) and brough their 19 feet game on the same day,” O’Donnell said. “The sport is truly a sport of microns as Stapleton’s winning jump was so perfect on the line that many in the coaches box initially thought it was a foul. It will be good to see those two compete again this weekend.”

Mitchell finished fourth in the 300 meters with a time of 41.52 seconds, her second fastest time of the year in the event. “It was a performance way beyond where she was (at the beginning) of the season,” O’Donnell said. Wilbur Cross’ Nyia White won the race in 40.60 seconds ahead of Glastonbury’s Sam Forrest in 40.71. Schwelker was third in 41.39 seconds.

Caputo qualified to run in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters but chose to run the longer race.

She finished eighth, breaking her own school record by more than 10 seconds with a time of 11:13.44.

“We decided to let her run in the 3,200 fresh which she hasn’t done all season,” O’Donnell said. “We really emphasized the need to be a little more uncomfortable and aggressive early (in the race) so she wouldn’t be forced to make up so much ground that she runs out of track.”

Conard’s Chloe Scrimegour, the eventual race winner, and Greenwich’s Mari Noble broke away early but Caputo remained close for a while. But Scrimegour and Noble broke away and a pack of five runners inched their way closer to Caputo. With three laps to go, the pack caught Caputo and tried to pass her but she continued to fight and moved back into third place.

But Caputo was running short on energy and finished eighth, just 1.45 of a second out of fourth place. Had she qualified for the New England meet, she would have been seeded eighth in the field of 32 runners.

Fuller looked much better than he did at the Class S meet a week earlier clearing 5-foot-10 to finish third. Here at the State Open, he cleared 5-10, 6-feet and 6-2 on his first try. He nearly did it at 6-4.

On his first jump, Fuller was well over the ball but came down on it in a way that the bar bounced straight up and straight down onto the standards. For a second, it looked like it would stick but then the bar rolled off and onto the mat.

Fuller finished third with a leap of 6-foot-2. He is seeded 16th at the upcoming New England meet, where he is the defending champion. There is a large group at 6-4 and one jumper from Medfield, Mass., who leaped 6-9 earlier this season.

Fuller, who also qualified in the 55 hurdles, skipped that event to focus on the high jump.

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

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