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The Branford boys' outdoor track squad ventured to East Haven on April 9 for an SCC Oronoque showdown and depth was the name of the game as the Hornets ran away with a 137-13 victory, improving Rich Biondi's squad to 3-0 on the season.
Branford's team consists of about 80 participants, 28 of whom are seniors, while East Haven's squad has just 30 members and so both coaches knew a lopsided result like this was in the making.
The Hornets used their depth to their advantage and saw three athletes win multiple events. Senior captain Jared Keck led the team in scoring with 20 points, coming in first in the high jump (6-2), triple jump (41-5), and 110 high hurdles (15.5), and was also part of the Hornets' victorious 4x400 relay (3:45) with Jaryd Hobbs, Nathan D'Amico, and Alec Janis. Keck feels that the triple jump is his best event because of the amount of training he puts into it.
"A lot of training goes into the phase work of it," he said. "It's really just developing those phases and working on the approach before you actually start the phases."
Aside from Keck, Hobbs (400 at 54.5 and 4x400) and Janis (800 in 2:12 and 4x400) were the two other Hornets to capture multiple first-place finishes. Janis is one of the many underclassmen who had a chance to compete for Branford and help the team to victory.
"All these kids are now having the chance to win a race and it's going to help them with their confidence and motivation to work harder in practice," said Branford coach Rich Biondi. "It's always nice when you can win and have a lot of the younger kids setting their personal records."
Biondi knew coming into the meet that East Haven was in a rebuilding mode and his team almost triples the Yellowjackets in size. It was a great way for Biondi to give the entire team a workout and teach his underclassmen.
One of those underclassmen was Justin Brown, a freshman who took first in the 100 (11.4). Even after winning the race, Brown was one of the many youngsters Biondi took the time to seek out and give some tips to help him improve.
"The kids I've been talking to at the end of the events, I've been trying to encourage them and use this opportunity as teachable moments and show them how they can get better," he said. "So basically, I was trying to point out their performances and where they can even get better in the future."
Other first-place finishes from Branford in the meet came from Logan Jarrett in the 200 (24.4), Ryan Connell in the 1,600 (4:58), Pat Laske in the 3,200 (10:41), Santino Giannini in the 300 hurdles (45.0), Chris Proto in the pole vault (12-0), Carl Williams in the long jump (20-7), Colin Tracy in the discus (95-6), Justin Pelazza in the shot put (38-10), and Rob Monaco in the javelin (130-9). Tracy also notched personal-best showings in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. The Hornets additionally had their 4x800 relay consisting of Aodhan Dunn, Jackson Mariotti, Charles Fowler, and Stephen Perrotti come in first at 9:59.
Coach Biondi also noted the strong performance of Curtis Sutherland, who ran 11.6 in the 100 and went 5-8 in the high jump to make states in both events. Also making states by reaching at least 5-8 in the high jump were Keck, Isaiah Barnes, Restinel Lomotey, and Billy Glynn.
In previous week's action, Branford beat Notre Dame-West Haven 134-16 and Career 141-9. Taking first for the Hornets were the 4x800 of Perrotti, Chase Fowler, D'Amico, and Laske (9:04); the 4x100 of Mike DeMaio, Brown, Sutherland, and Carl Williams (46.0); the 4x400 of Perrotti, D'Amico, Janis, and Hobbs (3:45); along with Hobbs in the 110 hurdles (15.5), Brown in the 100 (11.5) and 200 (23.8), Eric Fischer in the 1,600 (4:50), D'Amico in the 400 (54.9), Monaco in the javelin (137-6), Pelazza in the shot put (40-6½), Denis Daly in the pole vault (12-6), Keck in the long jump (19-8), high jump (5-10), and triple jump (41-3); Hobbs in the 300 hurdles (41.9) and 800 (2:02.3), plus Austin Fries in the discus (103-9).