Locals produce 3 top 6 finishes at Open

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NEW HAVEN — It was a call made for the good of the team, the kind of decision a coaching staff can only make when it has veteran runners who are both unselfish and clutch.

Woodland coaches Jeff Lownds and Tim Shea scratched senior Brandon Fowler from the 300-meter dash at Saturday’s indoor track and field State Open at the New Haven Athletic Center, hoping to conserve his energy for the anchor leg of the four-by-400 meter relay. Fowler was seeded 13th in the 300, a long shot to crack the top six and qualify for the New England championships, but it was his last chance to run his best individual event.

And, frankly, the Hawks’ four-by-400 squad wasn’t exactly a New England lock either. The quartet of senior Chris Savvidou, junior Kyle Cranney, senior Tyler Murphy and Fowler entered as the third seed—in the B heat. In other words, these guys weren’t even in the race that was supposed to produce New England qualifiers.

“We’re not in the high heat, but we think we’re going to run a really fast time,” Fowler said before the start, displaying zero disappointment about missing the 300.

The Hawks went out and won their heat, in three minutes, 33.18 seconds—more than two seconds faster than their seeded time—and stole the sixth and final qualifying spot.

“We’re pretty good at [strategy],” Lownds said, smiling.

The relay team will be the lone Woodland representative at the New England championships March 5 at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

Naugatuck's Rosa Moriello, never one to clam up, even before a race, shares a laugh with her competitors while waiting for the 3,200-meter race. Moriello finished third, after taking second in the mile.
Naugatuck's Rosa Moriello, never one to clam up, even before a race, shares a laugh with her competitors while waiting for the 3,200-meter race. Moriello finished third, after taking second in the mile.

Naugatuck sends distance runner Rosa Moriello and 600-meter star Tori Pisco, the duo that earned 15 points for the Hounds, enough to rank Naugy 11th overall.

As expected, Moriello scratched the 1,000-meter run, which she won at the Class L championships Feb. 11, to focus on the mile and the two-mile. As it turned out, the girls’ 1,000 was the most exciting race of the day. Nonnewaug’s Jackie Nicholas out-leaned Glastonbury’s Lindsay Crevoiserat by .07 of a second, in 2:56.26. Cheshire’s Julie Hart finished third, just .23 of a second behind Crevoiserat.

“Rosa’s 2:58 would have done nothing but tire her out for the mile and two-mile,” NHS coach Bill Hanley said after watching the close finish. Moriello’s best 1,000-meter time is 2:58.94.

With a full tank, the senior finished second in the 1,600, her 5:08.35 bested only by the 5:01.27 posted by Meg Ryan of Fairfield Warde. The favored Crevoiserat, seemingly gassed by her effort in the 1,000, was fourth.

Somehow though, the Glastonbury junior, the only girl to attempt the 1,000, 1,600, 3,200 triple, recovered enough to run away with the two-mile; she missed an Open record by just .40 of a second, in 10:53.18. A fresh Lauren Sara of Bunnell, running her only event of the day, caught Moriello on the final straightaway to claim second, in 11:03.51. Moriello’s time was 11:04.16.

Pisco got a bit of a scare when Hamden’s Chelsea Harris pulled a Woodland and beat her from the B heat, but the Naugatuck senior’s 1:38.57 was good enough secure the last New England qualifying spot. She, perhaps more than any other local, should benefit from the Lewis Center’s banked track. It was there that she ran a career-best 1:36.61 at last year’s New England meet.

Other local Open participants included Woodland’s Tyler Murphy (13th in the 600, in 1:27.67), Fowler (14th in the 55-meter hurdles, in 8.19) and Dan Park (14th in the long jump, at 19-2 ¼); and Naugatuck’s Amanze Williams (11th in the long jump, at 20 ¼) and the four-by-800 meter relay team of Maud Hrezi, Nick Moriello, Thomsa Mashia and Ralph Liguori (15th, in 8:33.42).