BOYS INDOOR TRACK
The Darien boy’s indoor track team won its first state title since 2007, taking Class L on Friday in New Haven.
Darien blew out the competition scoring 100 points to top Windsor’s 74 in second.
The team was completely selfless. Guys sacrificed individual events and seeds for the open in order to win the team title.
— Tyson Kaczmarek
Darien had five first place finishes and six athletes made All-State.
“This was a team win tonight,” said Wave veteran coach Tyson Kaczmarek. “We came out fired up. It was tough waiting six more days than we planned for.
“The team was determined.”
It was worth the wait.
“The atmosphere was incredible,” the coach added. “I’ve never seen guys so into a meet like this. Their confidence was through the roof. It was awesome.”
The meet started off dramatically as Darien faced No. 1 in New England Windsor in the 4×200.
“Going into the final exchange (we were) running second behind Windsor,” Kaczmarek said. “Spencer McMullin grabbed the baton from C.J. Raia and collided with a Windsor runner in lane one, who had already passed the baton to his teammate.”
McMullin went sprawling.
“(He) rolled over, popped up and took off to finish the race,” Kaczmarek said. “Darien still held on for second place despite the fall in a time of 1:35.66.”
Then came the news.
“Windsor was disqualified for passing the baton outside of the exchange zone,” Kaczmarek said. “Darien moved to first place. More importantly, Windsor did not get any points while Darien captured 10.
“It was just the start (we) needed.”
The win was even more surprising as Darien was without one of their relay team members. Cameron Smith injured his hamstring during warm-ups and was unable to compete: Smith was replaced by Cooper Drippe.
“He was able to move Darien into second place with a fantastic second leg of the relay after taking the baton from Nick Lombardo,” said Kaczmarek. “It was an emotional first 15 minutes to the meet. The news of Cameron being hurt was tough to hear. I know how bad he wanted to compete.
“We preach depth on this team and Cooper was ready to go when called upon. It didn’t even phase him. That’s what we need to be successful.”
McMullin was strong on the anchor leg.
“To have the presence of mind to get right back up after the fall kept us in the race,” Kaczmarek said. “He never backed down and was fired up afterward like I have never seen.”
Three events later Darien went 1-2-3 in the 1000.
That was the most important thing and our goal all year — to win just this one meet.
Brian Davey placed first in 2:40.64 followed by Marshall Huffman (2:43.80) and Peter Kreuch (2:46.71) as Darien took advantage of there only being seven athletes in the field, an extreme rarity, said Kaczmarek. Add in a fourth place finish by Spencer McKeough in the shot put (47-5) and Darien was out to a big lead it never let go of.
“I didn’t think we were the favorite,” Kaczmarek said. “Windsor is a very good team. After we caught a break in the 4×200 and with the seeds being the way they were in the 1000, I knew this was our meet to win.”
Nick Lombardo won both the long jump (22-0.25, a personal best) and high jump (6-2) giving him three gold medals on the day.
The points continued to pile up as sophomore Alex Ostberg was third in the 1600 in 4:33.31 and freshman Armstrong Noonan was fifth in 4:35.42.
Another win came in the sprint medley as the team of Will Ardery, Drippe, Raia and Davey as they ran 3:46.38, holding off a hard-charging Naugatuck team.
McMullin was fourth in the 300 in 36.81 and Ostberg was second in the 3200 in 9:53.03 while Huffman was fourth in 9:58.47.
In the final event of the night, Drippe, Ardery, Raia, and McMullin placed second in the 4×400 in 3:34.63.
“The team was completely selfless. Guys sacrificed individual events and seeds for the open in order to win the team title,” said Kaczmarek. “When we came up with the game plan, no one ever questioned it. They were on board from the start. Everyone wanted to win the state title. That was the most important thing and our goal all year — to win just this one meet.”
Other DHS athletes competing at the meet included: Ryan Yuen (16th, 300, 39.25; 11th, long jump, 18-9), Judson Bergman (12th, 600, 1:29.89), Ben Olsen (12th, 1600, 4:50.33), Kreuch (8th, 3200, 10:21.11), Noonan (11th, 3200, 10:24.45), Andrew Xiong, James Farrington, Sean Lee, Tim Grozier (10th, 4 x 800, 8:55.06), Jack Neary (11th, shot put, 42-1.5), Mike O’Malley (18th, shot put, 40-2).
“This win was for Cameron Smith and Matt Pik. I know Cameron was completely bummed by the injury,” Kaczmarek added. “Matt was a 600 runner and captain for us last year. I’ll always remember the look on his face after the 4×400 when we came up just short of beating Windsor.
“It was devastating. This win took care of that devastation.”
Darien last won a state title indoors in 2007, but also won in 2005 and 2006…Windsor defeated Darien by four points last year as the meet came down to the final event…Darien has won eight state titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track in the last nine years (XC — ’09, ’11, ’12; Indoor — ’05, ’06, ’07, ’13; Outdoor — ’06) …Darien went the entire season without senior captain and All-FCIAC shot putter from 2012 Will Lochtefeld who was recovering from injury…This is the first time the Darien boys and girls have won the state title at the same meet in the same year.