The Shelton High School Track & Field teams won both the girls and the boys East Sectional Championships at Amity High School in Woodbridge on Tuesday.
Each victory was a first for the program, and when it was all over, orange and black uniforms flooded the track in long-awaited and much-deserved, victory-lap celebration for both teams.
Coach Jason Kymer’s Shelton girls routed the competition with a massive margin of victory. The Gaelettes scored a school-record 155 points, 69 better than their next closest opponent and clinched their championship by mid-meet.
On the emphatic contrary, the Shelton boys team had to scratch and claw its way to a nail-biting finish, which fittingly, came down to the final race of the day. The Gaels fought off longtime-rivals the Amity Spartans and chased down Daniel Hand to a narrow win of only three points.
Although their paths to victory were vastly different, both Shelton teams followed a familiar script. Strong senior leadership was boosted by performances from the underclassmen to score points all over the track and the field.
Senior and multi-state champ Samantha Stevens led the girls in scoring with gold medals in the shot put, at 40-10, and the discus with a toss of 123-05. Seniors Abby Turco won the open 800 with a time of 2:23.26, Casey O’Connor took the 300-meter hurdles with a personal record of 47.81, and Grace Tokarski soared over a 5-foot bar to win the high jump.
For the boys, senior and defending LL state champ Zachary Deptula won the 100 hurdles with a 15.13, and Junior and reigning state open indoor champ Eddie Radzion placed first in the boys shot put by launching the rock 50-4.5.
Most of the Shelton scoring came the hard way, however, as a mix of seniors and underclassmen racked up points with finishes in the two through eight range.
Fittingly, the Shelton hurdle squad led the way as Coach Kymer’s position group took a monstrous 61 combined points in the four events.
Senior and reigning LL indoor champ Ethan Shuster nabbed a silver in the high hurdles with a 15.27 and finished sixth in the 300 hurdles at 41.64.
Classmates Neeraj Badshah ran for a fifth in the 100 hurdles at 15.69, and Deptula grabbed a silver in the 300 with a 41.24. Junior Elizabeth Herlihy finished third in the 100 hurdles at 16.06 and took sixth in the 300 with a run of 52.21. Seniors Meika Jean-Baptiste at 16.14 and Casey O’Connor at 16.32 took fourth and sixth in the 100 hurdles. Sophomore Cassidy Quiles ran for a seventh in the event with a 17.00.
Shelton underclassmen also filled up the scoreboard with awesome and often unexpected performances on the track.
Junior Matt Bean won a silver in the open 400 with a PR of 50.98, Sophomore Josh Sacoto took a bronze in the 800m with 2:05.44, and his classmate Zach Muller shocked the field from the second heat with a gutsy win by a nose to take a much needed fourth-place finish in the event with a 2:05.92.
Sophomore Robert Dillon continued his spectacular month by winning a silver in the 3200m with a 9:42.10, and classmate Camerin Gumbs ran a PR of 11.33 en route to a sixth place in the 100 dash.
Freshman Haley Oko torched the asphalt with breakout performances for a bronze in the dash with a best of 12.78 and later took a sixth in the 200m with a 27.56.
Senior Captain Amy Lynders kept the points coming in the open 400 with a 1:03.12. Then in the 800, sophomore Heather Garrett took sixth with a 2:27.43, and freshman Maeve Shelton nabbed seventh place points with a 2:30.26.
Sophomores Amanda LoMonte at 12:16.12 and Anna Weissenberg at 12:34.74 also took fourth and eighth in the two mile.
Not to be outdone, Shelton athletes also won with strength, technique, and poise to vault, jump, and throw for essential points in the field events.
For the girls team, seniors Jean-Baptiste (4-10), Samantha Stevens (4-10), and Mary Lewis (4-06) scored 2nd, 5th, and 7th in the High Jump with their Junior teammate Kelly Hurd nabbing a 6th with a 4-08. Junior Lauren Pawlowski won a silver medal with a pole vault of 9-06, as her sophomore teammate Mikayla Bobkoskie took a 6th at 8 feet. Teyri-Teresa Reed-Qules took two 5th place finishes in the Long Jump with a 15-10 and then again in the triple jump with a 33-05.
Coach Scott Snell’s throwers also tossed for a bunch more points behind their captain Sam Stevens as sophomore Yasmeen Dabiran at 97-04 and frosh Sarah Ovesney at 94-06 launched the javelin for a 6th and 7th. Dabiran also took an 8th place point in the Shot Put with a 31-03.5.
In the Boys Field Events, Senior Ethan Shuster came within an inch of a gold medal with a triple jump of 43-11 on his final leap of the day. This was a PR for Ethan of several feet in a most courageous attempt to get past Amity’s renowned Gerald Singleton who took the event on his final jump seconds earlier. Zach Deptula also tripled for an 8th place point with a tri-leap of 39-08. Then in the Long Jump, Junior David Samedi was a major surprise with yet another Gaels’ breakout performance of 19-07.5 to nab pivotal 7th place points.
Then in the boys throws, Coach Tony Branca’s group secured more points, none of which, the Gaels could have done without. Junior Tony Perez took a bronze in the Javelin with a 141-04, and shock of the day, freshman Georgio Ghazal bested his PR by nearly 20 feet to score a 5th with a 139 ft launch of the spear. Eddie Radzion also wasn’t done after his win in the shot as he spun and hurled the disc for a 6th place finish at 104-01.
Finally, and in unprecedented fashion, all six Shelton relays passed the baton for big points that would make all the difference. The Girls 4×800 of Devin Spisto, Garrett, LoMonte, and Maeve Shelton won a silver with a time of 10:07.5, the 4×100 of Oko, Senior captain Alexandra Schiable, Kelly Hurd, and senior Tey Reed-Quiles won bronze at 51.48, and the 4×400 of freshman Alice Winek, Hurd, Lynders, and Turco won another silver with a 4:18.29. For the boys team, their all sophomore 4×800 of Sacoto, Muller, Matthew Richard, and Dillon took a silver with an 8:19.45, the 4×100 won another 2nd place finish behind sprints by Gumbs, freshman Michael Rodia, and Juniors Sean Sirisouk and Matt Bean, and then the Gaels sealed their victory in the 4×400 as senior captain Jamiy Burey led the Gaels with a 52.96 opening leg, passed it to Zach Muller, Josh Sacoto, and then long sprint star Matt Bean. The exhausted Gaels ran away from the Amity Spartans and closed the gap just enough on the event winning Hand Tigers to finalize their scoring win the entire contest by scoring a fourth place in the last race of the evening.
The victory lap ensued as boy tracksters blasted music from their portable speakers. Pictures were taken, then even more pictures were taken. There was an epic display of hugs and high fives, and smiles lit up the faces of Shelton athletes, coaches, and parents alike as the Gaels and Gaelettes celebrated Tuesday Night.
The Amity Regional High School grounds were once a house of pain for Shelton track athletes, but they finally changed the narrative at this year’s East Championships.
The Gaels now roll into the SCC Championships next Tuesday, May 23.