Greenwich High

Greenwich boys track team entering postseason in impressive fashion

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich junior ZJ Jelinek won the 1,600-meter run for Greenwich in its meet against Staples.

After producing a successful dual meet season, Greenwich’s boys track and field team is entering the postseason with both momentum and confidence.

Winning the majority of their meets against their FCIAC foes, the Cardinals have the depth and talent to make quite a mark in the conference and state championship meets, which are rapidly approaching. The FCIAC Championships takes place May 24 at Danbury High School and the Cardinals are expected to be one of the teams to contend with.

Though Greenwich was edged by visiting Staples, 75.67-74.33 on Senior Night Monday, it continued to showcase its strengths. Junior Andrew O’Donnell placed first in two races, winning the 200-meter run in 22.1 seconds and placing first in the 400-meter event (48.5, personal-record time).

“In my past races, I felt like I was getting a pretty bad start, so I tried to take the first 200 much faster this time and I maintained speed and pushed my way through,” O’Donnell said. “The 400 and 200 have been my top two events. I’ve been getting better each and every race. I’ve been training really hard and it’s been a great season so far. I’m looking forward to the championship rounds.”

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich junior Andrew O’Donnell raced to victory in the 200 and 400-yard meter events vs. Staples.

In the 1,600-meter race, junior ZJ Jelinek looked in championship meet form, recording a winning time of 4:29.7 – a personal-record effort. Jonathan Lorenz of Staples was the runner-up (4:30.2).

“The goal was to get the fastest time I could possibly get to seed for LLs and states,” Jelinek said. “Hopefully, I can sneak my way into the first heat of states, so this is a great jumping off point for that.”

Jelinek credits the leadership provided by the upperclassmen for making the season both enjoyable and successful.

“The season has been very hard with COVID,” Jelinek said. “But we have great captains this year. They have been leading our team through and through. As a team, I think we have one of the strongest teams that we’ve had in many seasons. All in all, the community and kids that I run with make it worth it.”

He is looking to make his mark in the 1,600 and 800 meter events in the postseason.

“My main goal is to run a 1:54 in the 800 that would get me into nationals and that would be a cool thing to do,” Jelinek said.

As it has done all season, Greenwich flourished in the jumping and relay events. Senior David Faugno was the triple jump winner for the Cardinals (39-9) and teammate Anthony DeLuca, also a senior, earned top honors in the high jump (6-0). Staples’ Connor McGeehan placed second in the triple jump (39-33.75) and Greenwich’s Zach Carifa, a junior, took second in the high jump (5-10).

In the pole vault, McGeehan gave Staples a first-place finish (21-5.5), while Faugno placed second (20-10) and DeLuca took third (20-5). Michael Phillips, a junior captain, posted a first place finish in the pole vault, vaulting an 11-9. Teammate Tyler Bacco was second (9-6). The javelin saw Carifa register a distance of 132-8, a personal record, which was good for first place.

Photo by David Fierro: The Greenwich boys track team competed against Staples on May 17, 2021, at Cardinal Stadium.

Faugno won the 300-meter hurdles in 44.9 seconds, followed by Rijul Nair of Staples (45.7) and junior Shaan Parekh of Greenwich (46.1). Phillips, O’Donnell, Gianluca Bianchi and Nye combined for a winning finish in the 4 x 100-meter relay (43.6). Jelinek, Bianchi, freshman Harrison Goldenberg and Faugno gave GHS a victory in the 4 x 400-meter relay (3:26.9). Nye, a senior captain, also placed second in the 200 meter dash (23.0).

“The season is going pretty well for us and for me personally, I’m doing whatever I could to help the team and overall it’s pretty good,” Nye said. “The jumps, almost every meet we’ve been sweeping with top three jumps in long jump and pole vault. And the relays look like they are going to be strong in the championship meets. We have to work on a few things like handoffs, but overall our relays are pretty solid.”

Junior Laforest was the runner-up for GHS in the 100-meter dash (11.4), behind Staples junior Patrick Russell-Laga (11.2). Parekh was second in the 110-meter hurdles (19.6). Jonas Varnas from Staples was the winner in 18.5.

Cardinals senior Sam Chard finished second in the discus competition (86-0).

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich hosted Staples on Senior Day at Cardinal Stadium on May 17, 2021.

Senior Richard Santarosa, Phillips, senior David Levine, Nye and senior Paul Vranos are the Cardinals’ captains.

“I’m really impressed with the boys on our team,” Santarosa said. “They really stepped up this year. They have put in a lot of work and I couldn’t be prouder as a captain of these guys. Just watching them every practice and seeing them try as hard as they do is really inspiring. In the postseason, the mindset is trying to go the distance. If you make it to FCIACs you really want to get those times so you can make it to states and then nationals.”

Santarosa is enjoying his role as one of the Cards’ captains.

“I’ve found it to be inspiring,” he said. “I came from sailing and lacrosse and then I came to this track team and what surprised me was the morale on the team, the team spirit. Everyone pulls each other up and helps them when they are down and congratulates each other when they have a great race. That spirit is what made me want to stick with track.”

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