Branford’s Track Teams Compete in SCCs
The Branford’s outdoor track program competed in the Southern Connecticut Conference Championship that took place at Bowen Field in New Haven on May 24. The Hornets’ boys’ and girls’ track teams both finished in the top 10 with each squad crowning an individual champion at the SCC meet.
Led by a first-place performance from senior captain Pat Zdunek in the 800-meter run, the Branford boys’ outdoor track squad came in seventh place with 34 points scored at the SCC Championship. On the girls’ side, sophomore won Tess Wasiolek won the 800 to help Branford score 32 points and finish in 10th place in SCCs.
Zdunek ran a time of 1:58.64 on his way to placing first in the 800 for the Hornets’ boys’ team at the conference meet. Zdunek beat out runner-up Eamon Burke of Xavier (1:59.23) by less than a second to grab the gold medal.
Heading into the SCC meet, Zdunek’s best time in the 800 was a 2:02. He was also starting out of the slower section of the track. Head Coach Bart Wasiolek said that Zdunek proved how talented he is by trimming four seconds from his time, while defeating all of the competitors who were seeded ahead of him in the event.
“It was really a surprise. For him to post a time like that, with people chasing him in the third section, was an awesome accomplishment,” Wasiolek said of Zdunek. “You don’t see it too often when somebody wins an entire meeting coming from the slow section and having a four-second drop. It’s just incredible.”
Branford’s 4x400 relay team of Zdunek, senior captain Cheng Wu, senior Cameron Meli, and senior captain Peyton Moriarty claimed second place with a time of 3:30.41 at SCCs, marking a two-second drop from when they won the event in sectionals with a 3:32.20.
Senior Joseph Fanelli is also serving as a senior captain alongside Zdunek, Wu, and Moriarty this season. While Fanelli has been nursing an injury, Coach Wasiolek praised the senior captain for providing strong moral support for the Hornets.
Junior Ryder Kropiwnicki placed third in the pole vault (11-0) and seventh in the javelin (144-0) at the SCC Championship. He has recently won the pole vault by clearing 12-3 at the SCC East Sectional Championship. Last year, Kropiwnicki maxed out at 9-6 in the pole vault. Coach Wasiolek said that the junior’s progression in the event has been impressive this season.
Sophomore Avery Atkinson finished sixth in the 300 hurdles (43.63) and ninth in the javelin (141-9) for Branford. Atkinson’s time in the hurdles marked a new personal best. Coach Wasiolek said that Atkinson has toughed it out while battling injuries this year, proving that he’s dedicated to the sport and willing to work through any roadblock.
Alongside his work in the 4x400 relay, Moriarty also finished fourth in the 800 (2:00.04) for the Hornets. Sophomore Carter Moore placed 10th in the triple jump (39-5) and was 21st in the long jump (17-7). Senior Inderpreet Behal finished 15th in the 110 hurdles preliminaries (18.42) and placed 20th for the 300 hurdles (46.54). Junior Colin Donahoe took 13th in the 800 (2:08.92), while Meli finished 14th in the 400 (55.10).
Junior Nathan Chieffo finished 20th in the 100 (12.11) and placed 21st in the 200 (24.59) at the meet. While this is just Chieffo’s first year on the team, Coach Wasiolek said that he’s Branford’s best sprinter and is expecting him to take a big step forward as a junior.
Coach Wasiolek was looking for Branford to earn a top-10 placement at SCCs this year. With a strong performance toward the end of the meet, the Hornets were able to achieve that goal and take some momentum into the Class MM State Championship, where they are aiming to place in the top five.
“We competed well. We were expecting numerous athletes to step up in multiple events, and they did that,” Wasiolek said. “A top-10 finish was our goal. To finish seventh was great. I thought the team really came on late in the meet.”
For the girls’ team, Tess Wasioek followed up her victory in the 800 at sectionals by claiming first place in the event at the SCC Championship. Wasiolek recorded a time of 2:22.22 to finish ahead of Olivia Platt of Sheehan (2:23.28) and take the title. She had previously posted a time of 2:27.71 to win the event at sectionals. Wasiolek also finished second in the 1,600 at the conference meet by crossing the finish line with a time of 5:15.65.
Junior Sara Nwagboli took third in the 200 (27.23), finished sixth in the preliminaries of the 100 (13.21), and then placed eighth in the finals (13.53) of the 100 for Branford. Sophomore Joelle Budz claimed seventh place in the 200 (27.79) and finished ninth in the 100 prelims (13.36).
Branford’s 4x100 relay team of Duffy, Nwagboli, junior Sam Burzynski, and Budz finished in fourth place (51.42) at SCCs. The Hornets’ 4x400 relay of freshman Ella Stone, freshman Glorianna Buckley, junior Lila Wasiolek, and Duffy came in ninth place (4:28.59).
Senior Julia Duffy finished ninth in the 400 with a time of 1:02.94. Senior Svea Lundgren came in 11th place for the triple jump by hitting a distance of 33 feet-1 inch. Head Coach Kevin Connell noted that Lundgren has made immense progress in the triple jump, improving from 29 feet to 33 feet during the past few weeks.
Freshman ZuZu Pont Strong finished 20th in the long jump (14-9) for the Hornets. Junior Lila Wasiolek finish 21st in the 800 (2:47) at the conference meet.
Last year, the Branford girls’ outdoor track team finished in 16th place with 9 points scored at the SCC Championship. Coach Connell was pleased to see his club move up to 10th place by scoring 32 points in this year’s competition.
“This was a much-better meet than last year,” Connell said. “We are filling in more events and have a strong group of underclassmen.”