MANCHESTER - Prior to the 800 meter run, the final event of Wednesdayâs girls heptathlon, Darwin Shaw told Raven-Symone Jarrett she needed to beat St. Josephâs Nia Christine by about 1.5 seconds to become the first New Britain female athlete to ever win the event.
That was the extent of the New Britain girls track coachâs pep talk. There was nothing left to tell Jarrett. No instructions, just a reminder of what she needed to accomplish her goal.
âThe rest is all heart,â Shaw said before the race. âAnd trusting the training youâve had all year.â
Jarrett ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Christine through the first 400 meters, then increased her stride before bursting out into a sprint for the final 200 meters, creating plenty of separation and beating Christine by 14 seconds to make Hurricanes history.
The New Britain junior entered the day leading the heptathlon with 2,582 total points.
âIt felt like a blessing come true,â Jarrett said, proudly sporting a first-place medal around her neck. âI never heard of this event before this season, but since my coach believed in me, I believed in myself. He was my motivation to keep going. Itâs such a blessing to be here and to be able to win.â
Not only had Jarrett not heard of the heptathlon before this season, she hadnât spent much time practicing two of the events before Tuesdayâs competition began. Still, she was able to post respectable scores in her weaker events while thriving in the 110-meter hurdles and securing a sixth-place finish in the javelin, another event that she had limited experience in before the heptathlon began.
âThe shot put and the javelin, we started [practicing] those on Monday,â Shaw said. âShe practiced for maybe 30 minutes. But sheâs got such a big heart and is such a competitor.â
Jarrettâs friend and schoolmate Chaz Williams ended the boys decathlon on a high note, finishing in fifth place in the 1500-meter run to end the event in 16th-place overall as the lone New Britain representative.
There were 37 athletes remaining when Wednesdayâs action began.
âIt was a good way to end the season,â Williams said. âCross country prepared me a lot for this. Iâm just grateful to end my season with a bang. I worked hard all season. All these guys here deserved to be here and deserve the results theyâre getting.â
One of those other competitors was Plainvilleâs John Siani, who finished in 21st place despite lagging through a second day of events that werenât the seniorâs specialty. He ended his day strong, however, coming in eighth place in the 1500.
âIt definitely wasnât as good as yesterday,â Siani said after ending the first day of competition in the top-20. âHurdles and discus went OK, but the pole vault was disappointing. I didnât get an opening height, but you canât do good in everything.â
Innovationâs Aaliyah Walker experienced a similar challenge in the girls heptathlon. Primarily a triple jumper, Walker recorded an eighth-place finish in the long jump before battling through the javelin and 800-meter run to end the day.
Walker ended the competition, and her career with the Ravens, in 16th place out of 32 athletes who made it to day two.
âIt definitely went better [than Tuesday],â Walker said. âI didnât run all season, so I was hoping to get less than three minutes [in the 800], which I got, so I was happy.â
Southingtonâs Sebastian Maslinski was happy with his finish in the boys 2000-meter steeplechase, coming in 37th place with a time of 7:48.57, his best finish of the season after competing in two other steeplechase events this year.
His finish topped all other Blue Knights finishers in the event with seven other Southington runners competed.
âIt was good,â Maslinski said. âI sort of just spaced out and was in the zone. This was a nice way to finish out the year. It was for sure my best time of the year.â
In the 3000-meter steeplechase, Innovationâs A.J. Corso finished in 23rd place with a time of 11:00.32, but used a late burst through the final 100 meters to improve his place by two spots, finishing between Berlinâs Michael Parzcych (11th place) and Joshua Ladd (32nd place).
âI was like, âthis is my last high school race and I got nothing left,ââ Corso said of his late surge. âSo I might as well just give it everything I had.â
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org