NEW BRITAIN — The Conard High girls hadn’t won a state title in outdoor track since 1979.
Until Wednesday, that is, when the Red Wolves rode victories in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters by the Sherry twins and a personal best high jump from senior Audrey Kirkutis to a Class LL championship at Willow Brook Park.
Conard beat runner-up Glastonbury, which had won the last five Class LL titles, 85-79. Glastonbury won the last event, the 4×400 relay, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Conard’s lead.
The Hall boys made it a West Hartford sweep, winning their third straight Class LL title and fifth straight overall.
“I’m really excited,” said Conard sophomore Tess Sherry, who won the 1,600 (4:55.16) and the 3,200 (11:03.28) and anchored the 4×400, which finished fourth. “I wasn’t sure after CCC (championships) because we got fourth. We definitely wanted to win today.”
Her sister Liv finished second to Tess in the 1,600 and set a meet record in the 800 (2:11.78) after sitting behind the leaders then kicking in the penultimate turn. She also ran in the 4×400.
“I’ve been not running the 800 too well,” Liv said. “I tend to take it out way too fast. I was trying not to do that this time. There were some really fast runners racing today. It was some really good competition that pushed me.”
Liv said Tess pushed her in the 1,600.
“I really like running with her,” said Liv, who finished second in 4:56.15. “We help each other and pace each other. I probably would not have gone as fast without her.”
Kirkutis jumped her best – and tied a meet record – in her second attempt at 5 feet, 8 inches, the height she needed to win.
She was a little surprised by the team victory. Conard had finished as a runner-up in Class LL twice (1998, 2000) and Class L in 2021.
“Our coach said we have a good shot and we’re like, ‘You say that every year,’” Kirkutis said, laughing.
Hall wins boys title
Hall has won the Class LL title the last three years and the Class L title in 2018 and 2019. But on Wednesday, the Titans had their eyes on a bigger prize.
“We’ve not won the Open,” said Hall junior Isaac Mahler, who won the 3,200 (9:10.89). “We’re going for it this year.”
The State Open takes place Monday afternoon at Willow Brook Park.
Hall senior Jon York won the 200 (21.87), finished second in the 400 and anchored the winning 4×400 relay team.
“Everyone’s excited for the Open because we won cross country Open, we won indoor Open so if we get all three…” he said.
Hall was the State Open runner-up the last two years to Hillhouse and the runner-up in 2019 to Bloomfield.
“You’re a high school kid, you dream of that, you show up and you say, ‘What has this team never accomplished before and can we go do that?’” Hall coach Jeff Billing said.
Hall has always had a good track component but in the past few years, the team has built up its throwers.
“We’re pumped – we got people to the Open in all three of the throwing events,” Billing said. “Five years ago, we didn’t have a throwing program, now we have two guys in the javelin, one in the shot, one in the discus. We really feel like we’re a complete team.”
Hall also had junior Liam Wright in the pole vault. Wright, who was the indoor Class LL runner-up, hadn’t practiced or competed that much this season due to a hip flexor injury. Wednesday, he vaulted 15 feet for the first time to win the title.
“In the past two months, I’ve only had two practices because I’ve had hip flexor issues,” Wright said. “Going into today, I was just hoping to get into Opens. I did a lot more than that.”