Two members of the Wilton-based Connecticut Elite track and field club and six members of the Wilton Running Club have qualified to compete at this week’s USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
The local contingent qualified at the recent USATF Region 1 championships at Icahn Stadium in New York.
Representing Connecticut Elite at the regional meet, Shelby DeJana of Wilton placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in the girls 15-16 age group with a time of 15.59 seconds. DeJana had set a personal-best time of 15.54 seconds in the preliminary rounds.
DeJana also qualified for nationals with a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter dash in a personal-best time of 12.72.
DeJana won the bronze medal in the heptathlon by scoring 3,425 points. She finished first in the 100-meter hurdles and the 200-meter dash and also set personal-bests in the long jump (15’6.75”) and the javelin (61’5”).
“The fact that Shelby came back and performed so well in her individual events after two grueling days in the heptathlon is just outstanding,” said Kevin Foley, the head coach of both Connecticut Elite and the Wilton Running Club.
“Shelby has a lot of talent and the desire to excel and this type of performance is really indicative of more great things to come from her in track and field,” added Foley.
Another Connecticut Elite member, Jordan Sandell (South Salem, N.Y.), qualified for nationals in the women’s 17-18 triple jump by placing fourth at regionals with a best effort of 33’9”.
“We have been working specifically on Jordan’s second and third phase and she is improving a lot,” said Foley. “In fact, she fouled on her last jump by the tip of her shoe and was out very close to 35 feet. That is really her potential and I have no doubt she will be there this summer.”
Ashley Nicoletti (Wilton Running Club) took first place in the girls 13-14 pentathlon (five events) to win the gold medal and earn a trip to the national championship. Nicoletti finished with 2,112 points to edge the runner-up by 27 points.
Nicoletti placed second or third in four of the events and added a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter run.
“Ashley just started training for multi-events about seven weeks ago and had to learn how to hurdle and throw the shot put. She took second and third (respectively) in those events,” said Foley. “Ashley’s strengths are in sprints and jumps and she adapted well to multi-event training and did exactly what she needed to do to get the win.”
Wilton Running Club teammate Mariella Schweitzer also qualified for the national meet with strong performances in three events in the girls 13-14 age group.
Schweitzer took third in the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 15.96 after qualifying in a personal-best time of 15.85. She also set a personal-best in the 200-meter hurdles with a time of 28.95 and is seeded in the top 20 for the national championship. In the long jump, Schweitzer qualified with a leap of 15’9.5” to place third.
“Mariella had quite a year for us and set club records in both the 100- and 200-meter hurdles,” said Foley. “Anytime you can go sub-30 (seconds) in the 200 hurdles that is really moving and she is a sub-29 runner in that event. I think she will improve even more at the national meet.”
Also qualifying for nationals was the WRC girls 4×400 relay team of Taylor Felipe, Morgan Felipe, Sofia Pace and Katie May, which finished third at the regional meet in a time of 5:12.
“They had never run the 4×4 in a competition before and they all ran outstanding legs,” said Foley. “It was exciting to see them push themselves and I am proud of them.”
Notes: Also competing for the WRC at the Region 1 meet were Thomas Arnold (1500, boys 15-16), Jonathan Greco (400, boys 13-14), Luke McKay (800, boys 13-14), Steven Hergenrother (800 and 1500, boys 11-12), and Cameron Royle (discus, boys 11-12).