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Confident Stonington girls transition smoothly from indoor to outdoor season

Montville — Things were more unsettled headed into Stonington High School's girls' indoor track season.

First of all, there was no indoor track season in 2020-21, so everyone was rusty. Then, for instance, Iliana Rashleigh was a freshman, coming off a successful soccer season but still a little bit apprehensive when it came to track.

"I thought everyone was really accepting," Rashleigh said of her first impression of track. "I was really surprised. I thought it was going to be like, you know ... I heard about all the upperclassmen and I got kind of nervous. They're all really nice."

There's no apprehension now for the Bears. Having captured the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title indoors, they're on a roll during the outdoor season, too.

Stonington topped Montville 83-66 Wednesday to go to 3-0 overall and in ECC Division III. Montville, having stacked up as a traditional divisional opponent for the Bears — the teams tied a regular-season meet 75-75 in 2019 — is 2-2 overall, 2-1 in the division. This season, the ECC championship meets will combine with the regular-season results to decide the league's division winners.

"Absolutely, I think that indoor season kind of gives them the confidence to kind of run around and know they can do this," Stonington coach Megan Chapman said. "They figure it out. Now this is the most confident group of girls I've ever seen. They come in and they know what they have to do. It's awesome."

As in indoor track, Stonington is led by senior Nancy Inthasit, The Day's 2022 All-Area Girls' Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. Inthasit won the 100 meters (12.5 seconds), 200 (26.3), long jump (15 feet, 10 inches) and ran a leg on the first-place 4x100 relay (51.3) in the victory over Montville.

Phoebe Werling (javelin, discus) won a pair of individual events for Stonington and Rashleigh took a competitive 800 in 2:32.8, as well as running a leg on the Bears' winning 4x800 and 4x400 relays.

Kelsey Chiasson won the shot put and the high jump for Montville, which swept the hurdles events with Julia Beaupre in the 100 hurdles and Lyla Schultz in the 300 hurdles.

Inthasit confirmed that the Bears wish to build off their success and their work ethic indoors.

"Definitely," said Inthasit, the Class S 55-meter champion indoors who will run next year at Central Connecticut State University. "I had a great season last season. I want the same thing for this season for my team and I, as well. We won the ECC for both girls and guys last season and this season I actually want the same thing.

"We all want the win. We experienced how great the ECC title was and we're like, 'OK, we want that again.' I love my girls. They're hard workers. They're going to do well next year; I'm not even going to worry about it. ... We came here (Wednesday) and we knew that it's going to be a close meet. We're just like, 'Everybody's got to step it up.'"

Montville's last dual meet was April 13, due to a cancelation last week against Plainfield for a bus issue. That's given the team a few too many stops and starts in the early part of the season — "We're finally get back at it," coach Joel Finnegan said.

Montville has a group of seniors featuring Beaupre, Chiasson, Karina Huang (jumps), Kylah Bilheimer (sprints) and Katelyn Plikus (hurdles) and also has a group of younger athletes to fill in, such as Schultz, a freshman, in the sprints and hurdles.

Finnegan referenced the 75-all tie with Stonington in 2019, with both teams also unbeaten in the division at that time.

"It's always like that, right?" Finnegan said. "They're really well-coached. Their kids are super competitive and tough and we'd like to think our kids are, as well, so it makes a competitive meet."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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