The indoor track season for high school athletes always builds toward the state meets, and while the Bristol area didn’t produce any state champions this year, there were several athletes in the top 10 - including a pair of second-place finishes.
For their ability to shine when it mattered, eight athletes - four boys and four girls - have been selected for this, our 10th annual All-Press Indoor Track and Field Team.
For the second straight year, the honorees are topped by Bristol Central senior and All-State performer Shy-Ann Whitten, who is the only repeat honoree on this year’s squad.
Last year she was the Class L state champion in the high jump and this year she placed second in that state meet with a leap of five feet even - the same height she had last year. She also placed ninth in the long jump in the Class L meet with a distance of 15 feet, 3 inches, six inches behind her season’s best.
As the only area girl to compete in the State Open, Whitten fell short of her leap in the class meet, ending with a height of 4-10, good for 14th place.
“Shy-Ann is a versatile athlete,” Rams coach Kevin Taylor said. “Many times she was asked to be a part of a relay, or asked to go out and compete in an event that could help the team’s progress. She even tried hurdling for the first time in her life and was very close to qualifying for the conference meet. She’s just that athletic. As a co-captain, she was a huge asset to the team. A very good leader with a great attitude.”
As usual, Bristol Central landed the most athletes on our honorary team, claiming six of the eight total spots. The others are senior Meghan Curtis, sophomore Kaiya Alexander, sophomore Mark Petrosky, junior Hunter Peterson and senior Elijah Ortiz.
Curtis placed fourth in the 600 meters in Class L with a time of 1:44.01.
“Meghan is a big time racer,” Taylor said. “She stepped up and was a major part of her team’s success. Anchoring the [4x800] and the [4x400] and running personal bests in the 600.”
Alexander was the 10th place finisher in Class L for the shot put with a throw of 29-2¼, though that was off her season best of 34-3.
“Kaiya is a young athlete with tons of potential,” Taylor said. “This past season she recently tapped into some of that potential. Qualifying for the Class L meet by throwing a personal best in the shot put with a throw of 34-3. If Kaiya continues her dedicated work ethic, she will be one of the better throwers in the state by the end of her time here at Bristol Central.”
Petrosky was the other state runner-up from the area, placing second in the 1,600 meters in the Class L meet with a time of 4:31.90. He also was 13th in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:26.63. As one of two area boys in the State Open, he placed 14th in the 1,600 meters in 4:35.47.
“To quote [Rams assistant] coach [Paul] Ryskowski, ‘Mark is a bonafide star,’” Taylor said. “As a sophomore he has dropped some crazy times. With personal bests in the 1,600 and 3,200 (10:19.45), he has proven that he can run with anyone in the state. He’s a student of the game who is continually gaining confidence at such a young age. When his career is over, he could go down as the best runner Bristol Central has ever had. He’s that good.”
Peterson is the other area boy to compete in the State Open, placing ninth in the long jump with a distance of 20-3¾. He was third in the event at the Class L meet (20-6½), while also placing 11th in Class L in the high jump (5-6).
“Hunter is a major contributor to the team,” Taylor said. “He’s a dynamic athlete that competes in multiple events and is also gaining his confidence more and more. Hunter competes in my personal favorite event, the long jump, so it’s such a blessing to be able to watch an athlete such as himself fly through the air. Hunter is a diligent worker who trains like the best because he wants to be the best.”
Ortiz placed fifth in the 55-meter hurdles in the Class L meet with a time of 8.37.
“Elijah is a reliable guy,” Taylor said. “His expertise is the hurdles and he is as successful as some of the great ones that we’ve had in the past. With a personal best of 8.12 in the 55 hurdles, Elijah missed becoming the CCC champion by a hair. However, Elijah, being the person that he is, brushed it off and continued cheering on his teammates. Elijah is the definition of a teammate. He cares and he works hard. He’s everything a coach wants on a team.”
Rounding out the All-Press boys’ selections is Terryville senior Corey Picard, who placed fourth in the 3,200 meters at the Class S meet with a personal-best time of 10:08.34.
“Corey, our senior captain, had a great season,” Terryville coach Jeff Foulds said. “He set some very high goals for himself this year and worked extremely hard to achieve them. His work ethic and dedication was an example to the younger members of the team and is Corey’s legacy for future athletes at Terryville High School. Corey looks to improve on his indoor performance in the outdoor season in the Berkshire League, and in Class S.”
Wrapping up our girls’ All-Press selections is Bristol Eastern freshman Avery Braccia, who in the Class L state meet placed seventh in the 1,000 meters (3:14.02) and 14th in the 1,600 meters (5:47.78).
Lancers coach Kyle Fuller said Braccia came to the team after a great cross country season and the key to her success indoors was “learning how to race on a track versus running through the woods.”
Fuller said he tried her in a few different events, and different lengths, so she could learn and improve. She’s already run the second fastest 1,000-meter time in school history, though she’s still 15 seconds behind the school record.
“We’re hoping the experience she got from indoor will help her in outdoor,” he said. “She’s a good runner, but she’s still a freshman, so she’s got a long way to go.”
Paul Angilly can be reached at 860-973-1800 or email@example.com