Stonington's Mooney, Orr bring home State Open track and field titles
New Britain — Stonington junior Josh Mooney felt relaxed prior to competing in the CIAC State Open 110-meter high hurdles on Monday at Willow Brook Park.
That's a good thing.
Mooney, the No. 2 seed, raced to his first State Open title, finishing in a personal best 14.37 seconds, while also improving his school record. He edged out Michael Johnson, the top seed from Lewis Mills, who finished in 14.40.
"It was definitely pretty tight," Mooney said by phone after his event. "I knew it was going to be like that, too. I was more relaxed this week than last week. That's what helped me win today."
Senior teammate Ryan Orr also picked a perfect time to run a great race, winning his first State Open title by taking the 800 in 1:55.38.
It was a good day for the Bears, who scored 27 points to finish fifth in the team standings. Hillhouse, led by Baylor-bound throw Gary Moore Jr. and his wins in the discus, javelin and shot put, was the champion with 64 points.
"For a Class M school to do this well at the Open is incredible," Stonington coach Ben Bowne said. "We had a lot of really good results. It's awesome to come to a meet at this level and really run the best you've run all year."
Last week, Mooney helped the Bears capture the Class M title by placing first in the javelin and taking second behind Johnson in the 110 hurdles on a rainy day.
On Monday, Mooney won the rematch.
"It felt good," Mooney said. "I felt a lot of relief. Mostly relief. It put me in a good mood."
Bowne added: "A little bit different conditions today. And he didn't have to run the 100. His coach didn't put him in another event to slow him down."
Mooney also took third in the javelin with a throw of 175 feet, 10 inches. He qualified for the New England Championship meet this Saturday, also at Willow Brook Park, in both events and will compete in the state decathlon next week.
Orr will join Mooney at the New England meet.
"Going into the race, I realized that I wanted to extend my season, especially as a senior, and give myself another chance to compete and leave it all out there," Orr said. "I've been working so hard for this, so it feels good to have all the hard work that nobody sees to turn into a result that I'm really happy with."
Orr easily won his heat and finished about four seconds faster than his time in the Class M race that earned him second place.
Then Orr had to wait for the results.
"I was a little disappointed in my seed time going into it, knowing that I would be in the slower heat," Orr said. "So, I knew I wanted to take it out fast and just give myself a chance to hopefully PR and even just place and qualify for the New Englands. I never thought I'd win it.
"After I finished, I was walking to my bag and I didn't know until somebody texted me. ... I was just in shock. The fact that I didn't even win my (Class M) state meet and I was able to win the State Open, it's just incredible."
Bowne was impressed with Orr's strong finish.
"He just looked like he was a man on fire running," Bowne said. "He looked awesome. He looked so strong coming through the finish. He put everything that he had into it."
In the 1,600, Stonington's Ryan Gruczka finished eighth in a personal best 4:19.94.
NFA had a few good performances, as Jordan Ribeiro placed second in the shot put at 52-11.75 and Dangelo Aristilde finished fifth in the 100 in 11.09. The Wildcats totaled 13 points.
Other top eight finishers included: Bacon Academy's Peter Walsh, sixth in the javelin, 163-01; Fitch's Thomas Forde, sixth in the 800, 1:57.23; Bacon Academy's Jake Martino, eighth in the discus, 137-07; NFA's Michaelly Luc, eighth in triple jump, 42-7.
In the girls' competition, East Lyme's Savannah Soleau had a terrific showing, placing second in the shot put with a throw of 38-5.25 and third in the javelin in 122-04. Soleau was the No. 5 seed in the javelin.
Other top eight finishers included: Bacon Academy's Jennifer Whipple, sixth in the shot put, 35-6.75; East Lyme's Sophia Seguin, seventh in the triple jump, 35-6.5; Stonington's Nancy Inthasit, eighth in the 100, 12.72; Lyman Memorial's Leah Comeroski, eighth in the long jump, 16-7.75.
In the team competition, Sheehan won the title with 43 points, with Joel Barlow (37) second and Danbury (35) third.
For more photos from the CIAC State Open track meet click here.