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Avon’s Van Hoof wins state title, helps Falcons finish fourth

Avon’s 4×800 relay team finished second at Tuesday’s CIAC Class MM championship meet in New Britain. (Photo courtesy Avon track and field)

Avon High freshman Abby Van Hoof became the first Falcon girl since 2019 to win state championship when she captured a share of the 1,600 meter championship at the CIAC Class MM championship meet on Tuesday at Willow Brook Park in New Britain.

Van Hoof tied Waterford junior Avery Maiese in the 1,600 meters with both runners finishing with a time of 5:19.18. For Maiese, it was a personal best time. Mercy’s Beatrice Perrault was a distance third with a time of 5:25.67.

Van Hoof helped the Avon girls finish fourth with 42 points in Class MM, their best finish since winning a Class MM championship in 2018. Hillhouse won the state title with 70 points, followed by Woodstock Academy (54) and Mercy of Middletown (52).

Van Hoof is the first Avon girl to win an outdoor state championship since Rhiannon Richmond captured the 3,200 meters in 2019.

Van Hoof won a pair of medals. She finished fourth in the 3,200 meters with a time of 11:55, just off the pace set by Guilford’s Clara Gahm, who finished third with a time of 11:54.7.

Avon’s 4×800 relay team (Katelyn Westerberg, Laura Funderbunk, Ying Ying Cheng, Van Hoof) finished second with a season-best time of 9:45.48 and earned a spot at Monday’s State Open championships in New Britain. Mercy won the race with a time of 9:37.02.

Avon’s time is the eighth fastest in school history.

The Falcons also had a 4×400 relay team (Lauren Edge, Julia Freeman, Cheng, Emma Loparco) finish fourth with a time of 4:12.73.

Avon had a pair of medalists in the 300 hurdles. Edge was fourth with a personal-best time 47.12 while Cate Dugan was seventh with a personal-best time of 49.45 seconds.

Emma Loparco was fourth in the 400 meters with a personal-best time of 59.43 seconds, good enough for No. 3 all-time in the Falcon record book. Cheng was fourth in 800 meters with a time of 2:22.48 with Yasmin Rensch taking sixth in the high jump with a leap of 4-8.

The top three finishers in each event earn a spot at the State Open along with the 10 fastest times from the other four CIAC championship meets.

Funderburk finished eighth in the 3,200 meters with a time of 12:28.60.

On the boys side, Avon’s Jonathan Mora-Cordero finished eighth in the high jump with a leap of 5-foot-8 with Brahm Bulow taking ninth in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:03.4.

Avon’s 4×800 meter relay (Ethan Sloat, Bulow, John Pierangeli and Aidan McLaughlin) finished tenth with a season-best time of 8:36.95 while the 4×100 relay (Aki Bhabad, Atticus Putt, Oliver Lojewski and Jamin Aziz) finished seventh with a season best time of 44.45 seconds, the sixth best time in team history in the event.

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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