Woodland girls keep track title streak alive

Woodland’s Erika Michie, left, sprints past WCA’s Rianna Grant and Sacred Heart’s Asia Chapman to win the 100 meters during the Naugatuck Valley League outdoor track and field championships Tuesday at Seymour High School. – JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN AMERICAN

SEYMOUR — Rainy conditions that made pole vaulting unsafe Tuesday at the Naugatuck Valley League outdoor track and field championships put a celebration by the Woodland girls on hold for a day.

Woodland held a 111-100 lead over Watertown as the Hawks pursued their sixth straight NVL title with 17 of the 18 events in the books on Tuesday. Woodland clinched the title on Wednesday getting a huge win in the pole vault from senior Julia Swiatek to give the Hawks a 121.5-118.5 win over second-place Watertown.

“This is really meaningful, because we have had a streak for a really long time,” Swiatek told the Republican-American after winning the pole vault. “We hadn’t lost a meet in the league in a really long time, and we lost that streak this season to Watertown. It was a regular meet, but we realized we had to win this tournament to get the title of NVL champions. It was really important to me to keep that legacy going my senior year. I definitely didn’t want to see it broken.”

Woodland’s Hailey Bernier finished tied for sixth in the pole vault to help extend the Hawks’ streak.

On Tuesday, Woodland girls coach Jeff Lownds was pleased with the Hawks’ effort, especially in poor conditions.

“I’m very proud of our girls. They gave it their best effort,” Lownds said. “It was a difficult day weather-wise, but they gave it their best effort and I can’t be unhappy.”

Erika Michie was the star for Woodland. The senior, who was voted the NVL’s Most Outstanding Sprinter, swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes with times of 13.10 and 26.97 seconds, respectively.

“Erika runs herself into good positions,” Lownds said. “She’s has some little physical ailments this year, but you wouldn’t know that by watching her perform. I’m really happy for her to win both events today and to be the Most Outstanding Sprinter.”

Woodland’s other individual event winner on the girls’ side was Jasmine Michie, who took the shot put with a throw of 34 feet, 9 3/4 inches. Kristen Persico earned medals in each of the three throws, finishing second in the javelin and third in the shot put and the discus.

Woodland’s Tom Smith edges out Holy Cross’ DeAndre Wallace to win the 100 meters during the Naugatuck Valley League outdoor track and field championships Tuesday at Seymour High School. – JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN AMERICAN

“Kristen is a three-event qualifier at states, and she wants to do all three,” Lownds said. “I gave her the option (to do less than three), and she wants to do all of them.”

Another particularly valuable athlete in terms of point-scoring was Alexandra Cianciolo. She placed fourth in the triple jump, fourth in the long jump, and fifth in the 100 hurdles to earn 14 team points.

“Alexandra Cianciolo has been one of the most valuable track athletes we’ve had in a long time,” Lownds said, speaking to her versatility. “She’s a state qualifier in four events, she consistently performs well, and she does it in a very unassuming way. She’s a good captain and we’re really going to miss her.”

Lownds also pointed to the effort of freshman Jaden Young (third in the 800), as well as Jade Brennan in the mid-distance and Emma Slavin in the long-distance.

The Woodland boys earned 30 points on Tuesday and settled in the middle of pack. On Wednesday, Craig Starkey added to the Hawks’ point total with a second-place finish in the pole vault.

Senior sprinter Tom Smith overcame an injury-riddled year to finally win the 100-meter dash title and the crown of the NVL’s Fastest Man. He won the race in 11.16 seconds. Smith was the Woodland boys’ only medalist on a day in which the Derby boys dominated many events en route to another team championship.