Tuesday’s CIAC Class LL Girls Track and Field Championships at Willow Brook Park in New Britain marked one of Mari Noble’s final meets as a member of Greenwich High’s team and she certainly used the opportunity to add to her impressive Cardinals legacy.
Noble, a senior, won the 3,200-meter run, placed second in the 1,600 meter race in a class-record time and helped spark the Cardinals’ solid relay finishes at the ultra-competitive meet. Greenwich placed a strong fifth in the team standings, totaling 58 points. Glastonbury won the meet (109.50), followed by Southington (88), Danbury (81) and Staples (73).
“The meet went very well for our team,” Noble said. “It’s always difficult when you come off a disappointing season like the indoor season, where we weren’t able to have many competitions. That pushed us to do the best we could this outdoor season and it was definitely a contributor to how the Class LL meet went.”
Noble, who will soon be competing at Princeton University, registered a time of 4:52.79 in the 1,600-meter event at the Class LL meet, a class record time. Anna Keeley of Fairfield Ludlowe won the event, clocking in at 4:50.08 (also a class record time). Hannah DeBalsi of Staples held the previous record of 4:53.29 that was set in 2014. At the recent FCIAC Championships, Noble was second in the event with a time of 5:00.58, a time she was intent on improving upon.
“I actually didn’t know about the record before the race,” Noble said. “I went into the race knowing the 1,600 at FCIACs was a bit disappointing. I had a cold, at FCIACs so it was a frustrating race for me. This time, I finished that last lap knowing I left everything on the track.”
Keeley also won the 1,600 at the FCIAC meet, so Noble knew who her main competition would be at the state finals.
“I tried to stick with Anna for as long as possible, she is a very talented competitor,” Noble said. “I knew she would take it out fast. My main goal was to PR, which I did. I was very surprised that I broke a record, I just had no idea what the time was. That was definitely the icing on the cake.”
In the 3,200-meter event, Noble raced to the Class LL title, crossing the finish line in 10:59.25. Grace Michaud of Southington was the runner-up (11:02.43).
“My game plan for the 3,200 was to stick with the top girls and then make a move at about 1,600 to go,” Noble said. “I knew my legs were going to be feeling tired. I was going more for place and less for time. If I hadn’t been running the 1,600 would have been going more for time.”
Noble said she made her move in the race in the fifth lap.
“The girls ended up taking it out slower than we normally do,” Noble said. “After that picking it up. Lap 5 I made my move, Grace was behind me and pushed me throughout my race. I challenged myself to stay in it mentally as well as physically.”
Noble’s day wasn’t over after running the 3,200. She also anchored the Cardinals’ 4×400 relay, which placed sixth with a time of 4:14.40. Alexa Brust, Esme Daplyn and Haley Townsend helped pace the relay as well.
“I didn’t know I was going to run it until after I ran the 3,300,” Noble said of the relay. “The goal in the 4×4 for me was I didn’t want to lose any places for my team. I just tried to maintain my spot as anchor.”
Senior Sophia Bastek gave Greenwich a second-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles, clocking in at 16.49 seconds. Brust, a senior, was second in 16.99. Erin Dougherty won the 100 hurdles title in 15.90.
“Our hurdlers always do awesome,” Noble said. “I always see them doing hurdle and sprint workouts and training so hard. It’s exciting to cheer them on.”
Bastek and Brust placed seventh and ninth, respectively, in the 300 hurdles at the Class LL finals. Daplyn, a freshman, produced fourth-place finishes in the 800-meter run (2:18.01) and 1,600 race (4:52.79).
“Esme did amazing, she had a huge PR in the 1,600, that was really exciting to see,” Noble said. “It’s fun and reassuring to toe the line with someone on your team in a race like the 1,600. It was exciting to see her run and do so well.”
Junior Tabitha Cook earned the second-place medal in the high jump (5-02.00) for the Cardinals, which received eighth and 10th-place finishes from sophomore Kaitlyn Fay in the 100-meter dash (13.06) and the 200-meter dash (27.05).
Olivia Eslava, a junior, placed seventh in the long jump (15-11.75), while Bastek, Eslava, Townsend and Fay teamed up for a seventh-place finish in the 4×100 relay. Anna Weiksner, Elizabeth Anderson, Ava Gaspar and Chloe Eberwein were seventh in the 4×800 relay (10:05.36).
Up next for Noble and the Cardinals is the CIAC State Open, which is scheduled to take place June 9 at Willow Brook Park. Noble is especially appreciative of her final high school meets.
“This is my last hurrah,” Noble said. “I’ve really only had two seasons, because we didn’t have an outdoor season last year and I joined the team my sophomore year. That makes it more bittersweet – that it’s almost over. Competing in these state meets is special.”
While taking part in the Class LL Championships, Noble reflected on her first season on the squad as a sophomore.
“I’ve grown as an athlete since I was a sophomore and I’ve also mentally learned how to juggle the nerves that comes with racing,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about being a better teammate over the years. The State Open will be one of my last races before I go off to college (she will compete in a meet in Oregon in a few weeks) so it will be a bittersweet day. But I’ll also remember it.”