Losing some star talent didn’t slow this CT track dynasty from winning the Class S boys title

NEW BRITAIN – Bloomfield boys track coach Garfield White came into this outdoor track season not really sure what was going to happen.

He had lost three All-State athletes – two who transferred and another who decided not to run. His senior shot putter had surgery and was out for the season.

“It was like, ‘OK. Interesting start to the season. Interesting start,’” White said.

So what did he do?

“We regrouped,” he said. “My wife always says, ‘You only can coach who’s in front of you.’ So that’s what we did. Coached the kids who were there. Our hurdlers did a great job. Our throwers. Our runners. We weren’t as strong – the 100, the 200 and the 400 took the biggest hit with the kids leaving. We knew that would take some time. A lot of the young guys did a great job stepping up.”

And on Wednesday afternoon at the Class S track and field championships at Willow Brook Park, nobody would have ever known that White had doubts about his team at the start of the season. Bloomfield scored 135 points, dominating the competition, to win the Class S title. Bolton was second with 48 points.

“It’s not easy, I’ll say that,” White said. “It’s always something different, different challenges. This year has been the most challenging. I’ve never lost three All-State athletes within two weeks of my season starting and recover from it and we did and I was very happy about it.”

Junior Delante Senior won the 110 hurdles (14.63) and the 300 hurdles (39.80), edging out St. Bernard’s Theodore Burrell by .04 seconds in the latter.

“I did the hurdles last year but I didn’t place in either,” Senior said. “This year I came back, won both. I think I just got better overall. Doing indoor helped me a lot personally. I started taking track seriously indoor this year.”

Sophomore Khile Francis won the shot (50 feet, 5 1/2 inches) and finished third in the discus. Sophomore Jessie Singleton Jr. won the triple jump (43-11 3/4). Bloomfield’s 4×100 meter relay, with all new runners, finished second and the Warhawks’ 4×800 finished second, after returning only one runner from last year.

Senior Ja’Mari Manson won the high jump (6-4), finished fourth in the long jump and was on the second-place 4×400 relay team.

“Ja’Mari did a great job leading the team,” White said.

“It felt really good to get another win,” Manson said. “I’m happy I was able to contribute what I could.

“It was a heavy blow (to lose people) but it allowed other people to step up in their events. It really pushed everybody to try to make up for that gap we had.”

Old Lyme girls win first title

The Old Lyme girls won their first state outdoor track title Wednesday, taking advantage of perennial power Bloomfield’s move up to Class M (which the Warhawks dominated Tuesday night). Old Lyme, which won the school’s first track title (boys or girls), had 76 points and runner-up Thomaston had 58.

Sophomore Chase Gilbert overcame an injury that knocked her out of the State Open in cross country and most of indoor season to win the 1,600 (5:01.58) and the 3,200 (11:17.75) and her teammate Zoe Eastman-Grossel, a junior, won the 100 hurdles (14.62) and the 300 hurdles (46.20).

Gilbert had finished third in the State Open cross country as a freshman and won the State Open 3,200 meters last year outdoors. But she suffered a gluteal injury on an easy run before the Open last fall and it knocked her out for seven weeks.

“I’m so happy I could help my team get this title,” Gilbert said. “It’s great getting individual glory but team glory is a different thing. We’ve won the Shoreline title but we’ve never won a state title so this is a really special moment and I’m really excited.”

It was the first outdoor team title for Jan Merrill-Morin, who started coaching at Old Lyme this year, since she won one with Waterford in 1990.