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In a meet at the Wilbur Cross Athletic Complex on May 6, both the North Branford boys' and girls' track teams came away with a split, beating Hyde and losing to East Hampton.
The boys beat Hyde 76-44 and were narrowly edged by East Hampton 64-59. A big reason the Thunderbirds were unable to make the comeback against East Hampton was the lack of a pole vault event in this meet. Senior Joe DeLucia would have likely earned five points for North Branford as not only did he win the Class M title last season in the event, but had also just cleared 14 feet at the Mary Roberts Invitational last weekend.
North Branford Head Coach Kirt Westfall wanted the pole vault to be contested so DeLucia could have the opportunity to improve upon his top mark.
"We're here as a group of individuals as opposed to a team and we want to excel in individual events," he said.
Senior Alex Raffone won the 200 in a landslide and was also a member of North Branford's winning 4x100 team. In the 200, Raffone ran a 23.4 and really turned on his jets in the latter portion of the race.
"I felt the pressure in the first 100, kept my form, and knew I could beat him out in the end," Raffone said.
The seniors were the top point-getters for the Thunderbirds as they have been all season. They carry the younger guys, who Westfall says are fortunate to get the opportunity to learn from them.
"They're not all just good athletes, but good, functional human beings with good heads on their shoulders," Westfall said. "The underclassmen have been fortunate to be here while they're here and now we're looking for some of the younger guys to step up in the very near future."
Other notable performances for the Thunderbirds came DeLucia, Gary Falanga, Raffone, and Shelby Franklin in the 4x100 (46.3); Falanga in the 400 (54.6); Zach Augur in the 3,200 (11:31.1), and Rocco Morgan in the shot put (45-2), all of which took first place.
Meanwhile, the North Branford girls were able to best Hyde 90-18, but were defeated by East Hampton 81-55.
"Halfway through the meet, we were actually ahead of East Hampton, but they were a little too strong at the end in some of the throwing events," said Head Coach Chris Manner. "We come out with a split. It's good for morale and teaches the girls to continue to work hard."
The Thunderbirds were dominant early in the meet, winning many of the events. Due to their lack of team size, however, they seemed to wear down as the meet went on and East Hampton's depth helped the opposition prevail.
"Being a small school, we're not as competitive as we'd like. But when the girls step on the track they always give it their all," Manner said.
The T-Birds won two of the relays, swept the 800, and had freshman Catie Moran win both hurdle events. She earned 20 points for the team with her two wins, a number that had her excited.
"That's awesome!" she said. "It's really big for a freshman. It's an adrenaline rush when you go over [the hurdles] because it looks cool and people see you and think it's really hard, which it kind of is, but it's not as hard as it looks. The more experience you get, you improve your technique every time."
At this meet, Moran never trailed in the 100 high hurdles (18.2), although in the 300 intermediate hurdles (53.0), she fell behind early, yet was able to come back and win the race by a few lengths.
Other solid showings included Marissa Bale, Sara Olsen, Megan Oakes, and Jessica Munck in the 4x800 (14:43); Erika Chironno, Leah Martino, Rachel Sokoloff, and Katie Stevens in the 4x100 (59.0); and Chelsea Meagher in the 800 (3:02) and 3,200 (15:46).
"It was a good meet for us," Manner said. It was a great day to run so it gave the girls a chance to improve upon those times. It's a good stepping stone."