Stonington's Mooney wins CIAC decathlon
Competing in a mentally and physically taxing two-day decathlon competition isn't for every athlete.
"It's a war, an absolute war against yourself," Stonington track coach Ben Bowne said. "It's grueling and a long day."
Junior Josh Mooney did more than survive the CIAC Decathlon championship at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, he thrived, winning the overall title with a school record 6,331 points. He beat out Michael Johnson of Lewis Mills, the runnerup with 5,941.
"It feels very good," Mooney said Wednesday about winning the title. "Right now, I don't feel too bad, but I think I'll definitely be feeling it tomorrow, or the day after."
Mooney is the first Stonington athlete to win the decathlon since Shane Smith accomplished the feat in 2018. Smith, who now competes at Southern Connecticut State University, has helped train Mooney in recent weeks.
"Josh broke (Shane's) school record today, which is kind of neat," Bowne said.
Mooney built a comfortable lead after the first day of competition Tuesday and then kept the pressure on Johnson, the only other decathlete within striking distance.
By the last event, the 1,500 meters, Mooney had all but sealed up the decathlon title. He finished 21st in the event in 5:40.21.
"He had given himself a goal that he wanted to get around 6,500 points," Bowne said. "He was pretty close to it. Most things went how he wanted. I think he wanted to do better in javelin than he did. Other than that, everything went pretty well."
Mooney also competed in his two strongest events on Wednesday, winning the 110 high hurdles in 14.26 and placing second in the javelin in 160-0.25. He also took third in the discus (118-4) and tied for ninth in the pole vault (10-6).
In the high hurdles, Mooney outdueled his rival, Johnson, whom he beat in the State Open but lost to in the New England Championship. They're now 2-2 in head-to-head races this season.
Mooney didn't rest on his big lead that he carried into the second day.
"I felt confident throughout, but I knew any lead wasn't big enough so I knew I had to keep going," Mooney said.
Just a year ago, Mooney competed in his first CIAC decathlon and finished a surprising second. The result motivated him to do it again this year.
"The first time, my coach just threw me into it," Mooney said. "After that, I really enjoyed it and thought it was super fun. I wanted to make it my event, especially because coaches from other colleges started reaching out because they were interested in my decathlon score."
Mooney's track season isn't finished yet. He'll head to the New Balance Nationals this weekend in Philadelphia, competing in the javelin and hurdles.
In addition to Mooney, four other local athletes completed the grueling two-day, 10 event competition with Bacon Academy’s Jake Martino cracking the top 10 in eighth place with 5,253 points. He was the top local finisher in the 1,500 (19th, 5:19.11) and was second behind Griswold’s Anthony Gaeta in the discus (131-8). Gaeta, who finished 15th with 4,918 points, won the discus with a throw of 132-3. Lyman Memorial’s Justin Thuotte wound up 21st with 4,496 points and Stonington’s Phoenix Glaza was 26th with 4,444 points.
The girls’ heptathlon also concluded with the final three events in the seven-event competition. Ledyard freshman wound up fourth with 3,619 points while Stonington’s Nancy Inthasit finished 16th with 3,167 and Lyman’s Olivia Dunnack was 29th with 2,799. The overall state champion was Shelton’s Audrey Kozak with 4,0095 points.
In Wednesday’s final three events, Inyang was the top local finisher in the javelin (3rd, 83-7) and long jump (5th, 15-9) while Dunnack led the way in the 800 (18th, 2:42.57).