Greenwich High

Greenwich boys outdoor track and field team captured its first outright FCIAC title since the 1976 spring season

Contributed photo: The Greenwich High School boys track and field team gathers after winning the team title at the FCIAC Track and Field Championships at Danbury High School on May 24, 2022, in Danbury.

After coming oh, so close, to winning the FCIAC boys outdoor track and field team title in 2019 and 2021, one of the Greenwich’s main goals this spring was capturing the championship.

Mission accomplished.

Relying on standout performances from numerous athletes, Greenwich was alone at the top of the team standings at the FCIAC Boys Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the first time since 1976, winning the title with 110 team points at Danbury High School on Tuesday.

The victory marked the Cardinals’ first outright FCIAC championship since 1976. In 1990, Greenwich finished in a first-place tie with Staples for the title. Danbury was the runner-up, totaling 106 team points, followed by Trumbull (67), Norwalk (66) and Darien (63) in the 16-team championship meet.

“The score was achieved through a combination of four first-place finishes, three second-place, four third-place, three fifth-place, two sixth-place and two seventh-place finishes,” Greenwich coach Jeff Klein said. “Every single one of these scorers was needed for the win. Along the way, we set two new school records and a freshman record as well.”

The day began with the 4×800-meter relay. Robert Enslein led off and ran a leg of 2:06 to put the team in the mix. That was followed by two 2:00 legs from Antonio Ciccarelli and Quinn Collins (a personal-best for Quinn), which put the quartet in first place. Anchor Wyatt Abernathy, a last-minute substitution, had an outstanding race, clocking in at 2:09 (personal-best time) to bring the relay home in third place with a time of 8:16. Fairfield Ludlowe won the 4×800 relay title with a time of 4:18.95

“These guys did a great job getting us off to a strong start,” Klein said.

“So Greenwich track has not won the FCIAC since 1976, because of that everyone really wanted to win, as we have been so close in the past,” Greenwich senior ZJ Jelinek said. “As a senior, I also really wanted to leave a legacy and as I knew this was one of the best teams Greenwich ever had, I was confident we could.”

Contributed photo: Greenwich senior ZJ Jelinek displays the championship plaque, along with Cardinals coach Jeff Klein, after the team won the team title at the FCIAC Boys Track and Field Championships at Danbury High School on May 24, 2022.

The 4×100 relay followed. Like the 4×8, the Cardinals needed a last-minute substitution, as Harrison Goldenberg stepped up to anchor the team. Freshman Cameron Williams led off, passing off to Isaac Dacres on the back straight. Michael Phillips handled the final turn, with Goldenberg finishing the relay’s third-place finish with their second fastest time of the year, just over 44 seconds (44.19). Norwalk won the event, clocking in at 43.44.

The 110-meter hurdles was then competed with Greenwich’s Zach Carifa, a senior, as the No. 1 seed. He lived up to his seed coming out of the preliminaries as the fastest to enter the finals. Carifa then proceeded to run a personal-record time of 15.66 seconds to win the gold medal, giving the team 10 points.

Senior Andrew O’Donnell was the Cardinals’ top 100-meter racer. He flourished in the preliminaries, coming out as the fastest to enter the finals. In the finals, O’Donnell was narrowly edged by Danbury champion Kyle Thomas (11.05, personal-record time). O’Donnell was a close second with a time of 11.19, totaling eight points for the Cards.

Senior ZJ Jelinek was Greenwich’s lone entrant in the 1600-meter run. Jelinek was in fourth place for much of the race but had a tremendous last lap to earn a fantastic win. He ran the last 400 meters in an impressive time of 59 seconds. Jelinek’s time of 4:18.95 was over three seconds under the prior school record set way back in 1975.

“I was ranked second, but I was seeded three seconds from first, so I knew I could win it,” Jelinek said. “The race started out tough, as they convinced the first and second heats to save time. My strategy going into the mile is most of the milers are more two-mile guys, while I am an 800-meter guy, meaning I have a tad bit more endurance. Because of this, my strategy was to sit on them and wait until the final lap.

I was in third place during my first lap, second using my second lap and then all the way to fourth during my third. My final lap, I ended up running a 59 and passed everyone at the end, winning the FCIAC title and setting my school record by four seconds,” Jelinek continued.

The 400-meter run has been one Cardinals’ strengths throughout the spring. In the second of three heats, Williams took it out hard and was leading for the first 300 meters. Goldenberg took over from there winning the heat in a personal-best time of 51.31. Williams also had a personal-best performance, running a 52.07 to take fourth in the heat and break his own school 400 freshman record for the fourth time this season.

In the fast heat, Gianluca Bianchi battled with Kyle Bloomer from Darien, just missing the win in a time of 49.57. The final results had Bianchi second, Goldenberg third and Williams sixth and GHS earned 17 team points in the 400-meter run. Bloomer won the race in 49.37.

The 300 hurdles were next for the Cardinals. Shaan Parekh ran an impressive race, as he ended up in third place for Greenwich with a personal-best time of 42.22 seconds, good for second place.

The 800-meter run saw Ciccarelli double back from his fine 4×800 relay leg. He stayed with the leaders most of the way, ending up with a time of 2:01. That gave him a seventh-place finish for the Cards.

Contributed photo: Greenwich won the team title at the FCIAC Boys Track and Field Championships.

In the final individual sprint event, Greenwich earned plenty of team points in the 200-meter run. O’Donnell earned the first-place medal with a new school-record of 21.86 seconds. Bianchi placed fifth and Greenwich gained 14 more team points in the race.

In the field, Greenwich’s jumpers continued their outstanding spring season. Carifa and Aidan Karson were two of the top seeds in the high jump. Carifa cleared 6 feet, 2 inches without a miss for a strong second-place finish. Duke Quermorllue of Norwalk cleared 6 feet 4 inches to earn the win. Greenwich also received a sixth-place finish from Aidan Karson (5-10.00).

In the pole vault, Michael Phillips had a stellar day, clearing 12 feet. He narrowly missed at 12 feet 6 inches and wound up with a fifth-place finish, good for four more GHS points.

Carifa had an incredibly busy day, with all of his events occurring in the first half of the meet. He ran the preliminaries and finals of the hurdles, high jumped at one end of the field and long jumped at the other end. In the long jump, he ended up in fifth with a personal-best performance of 19-10. In Carifa’s three individual events, he earned 22 team points.

After 16 of the meet’s 18 events in the meet, Greenwich had a slim lead on Danbury as it headed into the triple jump and 4×400 relay. Danbury had two jumpers in competition for the triple points, while the Cardinals had Kwame Boateng. Boateng had a great final day of his senior season producing had a significant personal-best effort of 39-5 inches. That added a critical two points to Greenwich’s total.

That left it up to the final event on the track, the 4×400-meter relay. Needing to win the race to solidify their lead (the triple jump was still underway with uncertain results), the Cardinals produced. Isaac Dacres ran a solid first leg, then handed off to Goldenberg. Jelinek then took the baton in four place, narrowly behind the leaders. He came off the last turn and turned on the jets to Greenwich in the lead with a 50.9 leg as he handed off to Bianchi.

Bianchi ran his best time ever of 49.17 seconds to finish ahead of the 400 Open winner from Darien. The quartet finished first and delivered the 10 points, sealing the Cardinals’ team championship. Their time of 3:25.42 was especially impressive, since all their runners were doubling or tripling back from earlier events.

“The final 200-meters I ended up using everything I got to pass them and give it to our final leg Gianluca in a time of 50.8 and Gianluca took it home and won.”

Greenwich also had several other athletes that competed at the FCIAC Championships. Freshman Thomas Donovan placed ninth in the preliminaries in the 100-meter hurdles, just missing making the finals. He placed 18th in the triple jump and 20th in the 300 hurdles. He was the only freshman to qualify in two of his events and the only freshman in the meet to compete in three events.

Christian Zawlislack finished 13th in the 3200-meter run with a time of 9:59. Sergot Boone recorded his second best javelin throw of the season, reaching 123 feet for a 10th-place finish.

Boateng made the finals of the long jump posted a ninth-place finish.

In the 200 Dacres came in at 23.51, narrowly missing scoring as well as he was .08 seconds off 8th place. Caleb You placed 29th in the event after earlier placing 24th in the 100 while Boone was 26th in that event.

Freshman Daniel McGuire was 21st in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 34-6.

“It was a great day for GHS track to earn the championship,” Klein said. “What was exciting was to see so many score in the meet, show tremendous desire, and give their all for the team. It truly was a team effort with our 15 different scorers.”

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