Maloney’s Burt Wins New England Hurdles

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BRIDGEWATER, Mass.—— Briana Burt’s grandfather, Gary, has always been her biggest supporter — her “rock” and “father figure.”


So it didn’t surprise Burt when Grandpa leaned over during breakfast Saturday and told her she was going to beat pre-race favorite Chenoa Sebastian of Ledyard in the 100-meter hurdles at the New England track and field championships later in the day. That’s just what grandparents do. The senior from Maloney High in Meriden knew better, she thought.


“I was like, ‘Yeah, Grandpa, yeah. I’m the shining star of your heart, I know, but the way the stats work …” Burt said.


Turns out, Grandpa knows best.


With her biggest fan watching in the stands, Burt broke cleanly from the blocks at Bridgewater State University and ran a flawless race to beat Sebastian for the New England title. Burt, a senior, ran 14.57 seconds and Sebastian 14.61. The winning time was the fastest by a Connecticut runner this year. Sebastian had run 14.66 and 14.73, respectively, in winning the Class MM championship and State Open. Burt was second in the Open in 14.99.


“In the back of my mind, I was like, ‘I really just need this.’ I need this for my school, I need this for my coaches, but most importantly I need this for me because I came this far,” Burt said.


Along with Burt’s win, Connecticut athletes won 10 events and had 10 runner-up finishes. Only two events went by without a state finisher in the top six. Area winners included Simsbury‘s Sarah Mattison (3,200), East Hartford‘s Dana Bramble (girls triple jump) and its boys 4×100-meter relay and Windham‘s Joseph Fogarasi (pole vault). The Windham junior was a repeat winner, clearing 15 feet, 3 inches, along with Wilbur Cross’ Danae River in the girls 1,600 (4:53.46).


“It went from really [bad] at the beginning [where he feared no-heighting because of long delays] to probably one of the best days of jumping I’ve had,” Forgasi said. “I think it means a lot because it was a lot harder this year.”


In the 4×800-meter relays, the Danbury boys took first place (7:52.64) and six other state girls and boys teams placed in the top six, including the Hall boys (fifth), Glastonbury girls (fourth, school-record 9:19.14) and Simsbury girls (sixth).


Mattison won the 3,200 with a time of 10:32.47. Kaleigh Roberts of Mercy (10:54.56) was fourth and Elizabeth Lagoy of Conard (10:58.35) was sixth.


“I’m pretty shocked,” Mattison said. “I was just hoping to break [10:40], so the fact that I cleared it by that much made me pretty excited,” Mattison said. “I never thought I’d even been considered. I look at girls in New England and see the 10:30s and think that is ridiculous, and if only I could do that. It just doesn’t feel real. I don’t feel like I’m at that league yet.”


For the East Hartford boys 4×100 team and for Bramble, it was all about preparation. The relay team, made up of Demarc Burrell, Enyce Walker, Kurt Lungrin and Fitzroy Miller, practiced the day before the State Open on the track at Middletown and won there. And at New Englands, the team tried the same process, and it worked. East Hartford ran 42.63 to beat Mount Pleasant High of Providence (43.31) and set a new school record. Bramble used a green jumping box at the start of the day to perfect her form and routine one last time in her final meet, and she won the triple jump at 37-10 1/2 and finished second in the long jump (17-9). She leaves as the state’s “triple jump queen,” a title she always wanted. … Capital Prep’s Dhahran Velasquez finished one of the best distance careers in city history with a third place in the 1,600 (4:18.51). He turns the area distance mantle over to Glastonbury’s Randy Neish, who finished fourth in the 800 (1:54.67). … Glastonbury’s girls 4×400 team finished second (3:59.06).


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