Danbury wins State Open
NEW HAVEN - The Danbury High boys indoor track and field team has turned the State Open championship into its own personal showcase.
The Hatters won three relay events and Steven Rochester and Leon Breece each won an individual event to lead Danbury to its fourth consecutive State Open championship Saturday at Hillhouse High.
"No school in the state has won four state indoor track titles, outright, in a row since Hillhouse High School (New Haven) did it in 1931-34," Danbury coach Rob Murray said. "Staples won four in a row in the 1980s, but they shared the title with another school the first year."
The Danbury performance Saturday was impressive. The Hatters scored 64 points and took the lead for good after the fourth contested event. Griswold was a distant second with 28 points.
"I think we ran a 'just about perfect' race," Murray said. "I thought, coming in our potential was in the seventies. But I am pleased with 64. It's hard to score this many points in an State Open."
Murray said he spent some time in reflection recently, and compared this team to the 1998 team.
"I don't think this one is quite as talented, but they have tremendous heart, desire and will to win. I think what sets this team apart is its mental edge to be champions."
The Hatters' game plan for the meet was simple: ride the success of Breece, Rochester and Matt Price, and pick up the gravy points with others like Glen Mourning, Mo Harrison, Lawrence Chaves, Elonzo Young, Antonio Harrison and Graham Snow.
Breece, Rochester and Price set the table for the victory by combining for 48 of Danbury's 64 points. Breece picked up 10 by winning the pole vault, Rochester scored 10 more by winning the 55 meters run, and Price added eight points by placing second in the 55-meter hurdles. Then the three led the charge in the relays.
Breece broke his own school record in the pole vault with a jump of 14 feet. The senior star said he and some of the other seniors had some doubts about how good this year's team would be considering the talent of last year's graduates.
"It all came together after the football season," Breece said. "When we saw who was coming back, and who some of the kids were that were switching from other sports to track and field, we knew we had the potential to be very good.
"And now we've won four championships in a row. That's history. We are part of history," Breece added with emphasis.
Ridgefield, New Milford and Pomperaug were the only other local schools to score in the Open.
The Tigers' 4x800 relay team of Patrick Moffat, Martin Gennusa, Joshua Kearns and Jesse Kearns placed third, earning all six of Ridgefield points; the Tigers finished 23rd in the team standings.
Brendan McNeish scored all eight points for 18th-place Pomperaug with a second-place finish in the 1,600 meters. His time of 4:27.64 was 3.35 seconds faster than his seed time. David Hunt of New Milford finished fifth in the same event in 4:35.10; that accounted for New Milford's two points.