Boys track: Shelton takes on, defeats top rivals
After bad weather forced three meets into a seven day time frame, the Shelton High boys track and field team squared off with arch rivals, divisional opponents, and ascending programs — Amity, Notre Dame of West Haven on April 24, Cheshire on the 26th and Sheehan on Tuesday.
Each opponent posed a unique challenge, Amity in the jumps and distance, ND in the sprints and hurdles, Cheshire in the throws and distance, and Sheehan in the long sprints and hurdles.
Shelton coach Michael Gambardella had to strike the correct balance with each line-up, and the Gaels required huge production from senior leaders and underclassmen alike.
Each victory also required it's own brand of heroics.
Shelton's Senior Night at Finn Stadium left the Gaels without one of their best leaders as captain and long sprinter Matt Bean had to be sidelined with a hamstring injury for the week.
Fortunately for the Gaels, two other captains were ready to produce as well as sophomore sprinters Erik Lorent and Michael Rodia.
Lorent made his triumphant return from a brief, but successful run during the indoor season and led the Gaels to a season-best 4x100 relay time of 43.8 seconds.
Lorent followed that up with wins in the 100 at 10.8 and 200 at 22.7.
Rodia took a much-needed second in the 100 at 11.0 and a fifth in the 200 with a 23.8.
Senior captain and defending state champ Ed Radzion led the Gaels to a dominant sweep of the shot put event against both teams.
He also took another first in the discus for a critical combination of 20 points in the overall meet.
The most galvanizing moment came from the Gael’s other senior captain, David Samedi.
With the scoring tight, Samedi stepped on the runway for a triple jump and delivered a season-best 41-07.5.
He proceeded to run around the infield of Finn, high fiving and chest bumping teammates.
The outpouring of emotion fired up distance runner Robert Dillon, who took first in the 800 to all but seal the day for Shelton.
The Gaels went on to defeat the Spartans 87-63 and NDWH 88-62 to improve to 8-0.
The ever reliable Dillon wasn't done.
In a much touted rematch with state champion Brendan Murray of Cheshire, a runner Dillon had yet to defeat in his first two and a half seasons in track, the meet with the Rams stood all but even going into the 1600 on Thursday.
Murray allowed Dillon to pace the mile for two laps and drafted behind him in his trademark style before making his move to overtake the Gael junior.
Dillon was ready.
In the loudest race of the day, Dillon regained the lead and pulled away from Murray in the final lap.
Not only did Dillon win the mile, but classmate Matthew Richard seized upon the momentum and the cheers to comeback for a highly contested third place.
Samedi more than did his part winning four events, including the 110 hurdles, and the long, high and triple jumps.
Radzion continued his mastery of the shot put circle to propel Shelton to their third victory of the week, as Shelton defeated Cheshire 90-60.
Going into Tuesday's contest with Sheehan, the Gaels had to go it without Lorent, sidelined with a hamstring injury, but Bean managed to comeback just in the nick of time.
Bean won the open 400 to further a commanding lead that the Gaels would not yield.
The Shelton lineup against Sheehan produced many more stand-out performances.
Rodia won the 100. Samedi won 110 hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump. Radzion took firsts in the shot put and discus.
Sophomore Zach Prindle won the pole vault and high jump. Dillon won the 800 and 2 mile. Senior Michael Casinelli took first place in the javelin.
Shelton relay teams also took first-place finishes.
The 4x800 team of Zach Muller, Matt Richard, Brandon Fulton and Josh Sacoto won the event.
The 4x100m relay team overcame a drop of the baton the week before to rebound with a victory.
Junior Camerin Gumbs, Rodia, senior Sean Sirisouk and junior Nick Andrade gave Shelton an early lead that would build and hold as the Gaels defeated Sheehan 88.5-61.5.
The Housatonic Division championship will come down to the showdown between undefeated teams when Shelton takes on Lyman Hall next Tuesday.