Hillhouse Girls Win Track State Open Title

TRACK: Precious Holmes leads Hillhouse to State Open title
 
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
 
Courtesy of New Haven Register
 
By Chip Malafronte, Register Staff
cmalafronte@nhregister.com
 
 

NEW BRITAIN — Gary Moore isn’t one to pore over the updates posted on the results board or furiously calculate what his team must do in order to remain in contention at meets.
 

He said he knew his Hillhouse girls would have a shot to win the team championship at Monday’s State Open based on the pre-meet seedings. And he wasn’t sure his team had it wrapped up until the official announcement was made.
 

The Academics, behind triple-winner Precious Holmes, captured their sixth State Open title and first in 10 years with 63 team points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Windsor.
 

“I looked at the rankings before and said, ‘It looks like we have a shot,’” Moore said. “And that was it. I didn’t think about it again.”
 

Depth clinched the victory for Hillhouse, but Holmes put her team in position.
 

Her day began with victory in the 100 meters, a personal best of 12.07 seconds. Holmes then rolled to her second win in the 400, her bread-and-butter event, smashing the state record by over two seconds at 53.16. The previous state record of 55.20 was set by Symone Roberts of New Britain in 2009.
 

After a quick breather, she completed the triple by winning the 200 in 24.58.
 

A sophomore who doesn’t turn 16 until November, Holmes is a remarkable talent with a bright future and big dreams.
 

“I feel like by the time I’m a senior, I’m going to be dominating,” Holmes said. “I’m trying for that 51-low or high 50 mark by the time I’m a senior.”
 

Moore has coached his share of elite runners over the years who have gone on to Division I college programs, including Nicholette Chambers, Monica Hargrove and Ann Marie Clarke.
 

He said he’s often asked to compare Holmes to them, and the answer is clear.
 

“She surpassed what all those girls did,” Moore said. “Monica is running professionally now. She surpassed what Monica did when she was in high school. When I had Nicholette and all those great kids, people said these are once in a lifetime athletes that you get. This kid right here is it. What she’s doing is unbelievable.”
 

Cheshire’s Jake Scinto placed second his two events of the day, the long jump and the high jump. So he had a little more fire to win his final event, the triple jump.
 

Scinto added 10 inches to his personal best to win the triple jump with a leap of 47 feet, 5 inches.
 

“I was pretty excited, I was going a little crazy,” said Scinto, who still had to wait through the final round of jumps for the rest of the competition. “It’s not everyday that you PR by nearly a foot.”
 

Lyman Hall senior Ronea Saunders set her sights on a State Open record in the high jump. She came up short, but still captured gold by clearing 5-8.
 

Saunders tied the state record of 5-9 at the class championships last week, and with first place clinched had the bar set at 5-9.25 for her final attempt.
 

Hand senior Brendon Fish was one of the state’s best in the 800, but a rough race at the Class L meet last week left him with a time that barely qualified for the State Open. As it was, he would be racing in Monday’s first heat – the “slow” heat. To win gold, he wouldn’t be racing against his main competition in the final heat but against the clock.
 

Fish dusted the pack in his heat with a time of 1:53.14, just ahead of his personal best time of 1:53.16. Then, he had to sit and watch the remaining heats to see if his time would hold up. It did.
 

“I made a plan with my coaches to run as fast as I could because I knew I would be by myself,” Fish said. “I had a nice, relaxed first lap and then whatever I could do the last 400. I thought my time could hold up, but I knew there were a lot of fast guys coming up.”
 

Other area winners included Katherine Watts of Valley Regional in the pole vault (12-0) and the Notre Dame-West Haven 4x100 team, which took gold with a time of 43.22.