MANCHESTER - When New Britainâ€™s Raven-Symone Jarrett heard her name echo through the loudspeakers at Manchester High School, she immediately broke out in a dance.
The lone representative of the Hurricanes girls track team had her name called last after Tuesdayâ€™s girls heptathlon concluded, meaning she ended the first day of competition in first place overall, in an event that brought in over 40 competitors across the state.
â€śIn general, my plan was to just make it to [Wednesday],â€ť Jarrett said. â€śI thought I could do it, and so did my coach.â€ť
Jarrettâ€™s productive day was boosted by a first-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and buoyed by a second-place finish in the 200-meter dash, helping her end the day with 2,582 total points.
â€śShe just has to go in[to Wednesday] with confidence,â€ť Hurricanes girls track head coach Darwin Shaw said. â€śShe had never done anything like this until today. We worked on javelin and things like that for maybe 30 minutes, but Raven is such a special athlete, she can do anything.â€ť
Still, Jarrett expects a better performance when action resumes Wednesday morning back in Manchester.
â€śI can run better than that,â€ť Jarrett said. â€śBut itâ€™s still good to be first.â€ť
When Jarrett wasnâ€™t racing to the top of the leaderboard, she was watching fellow New Britain athlete Chaz Williams finish the first day of the boys decathlon in 11th-place overall, thanks to a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash and a first-place finish in the 400-meter dash.
â€śIâ€™m feeling good,â€ť Williams said. â€śThe decathlon is very fun. I feel like the best of the best athletes compete at decathlon. Iâ€™m just looking forward to moving on to day two.â€ť
Plainville senior John Siani is also moving on to the second day of competition thanks to a top-20 overall finish. Siani ended Tuesdayâ€™s action in 18th place with a score of 2,777. More than 700 of his total points came in the 100 meters, where Siani finished 22nd overall and second in his heat.
â€śThe 100 meter and the long jump went really well for me,â€ť Siani said. â€śThe shot put was around what I thought I would get. Personal records are what you hope for, but you canâ€™t do that in every event.â€ť
Southingtonâ€™s lone representative in the boys decathlon was Michael Balachandar, a sophomore who finished in 44th place with a total score of 2,396, just seven spots away from qualifying for the final day of competition.
Balachandar was held back by a 48th-place finish in the 100 meters, an event he hadnâ€™t experienced until Tuesday afternoon.
â€śThat was my first time running it all season,â€ť Balachandar said. â€śSo I think that was a pretty good finish.â€ť
The Blue Knights still boasted a champion thanks to junior Trinity Cardillo, who shined at the girls hammer throw event later in the afternoon. Cardillo, who will be moving on to compete in the New Balance National Championships this weekend, claimed first place in the event, despite falling 10 feet short of her personal record of 150 feet.
â€śIt feels good,â€ť Cardillo said. â€śIâ€™ve been working on hammer for a long time, so itâ€™s nice to get a win out of it. We donâ€™t have many meets around here, so itâ€™s nice to have one at the end of the season.â€ť
Innovationâ€™s Morgan Sartor will be joining Cardillo at the national championships, but the senior struggled through a rough day on Tuesday, finishing the hammer throw in sixth place. Her teammate Aaliyah Walker sealed a trip back to Manchester on Wednesday by finishing the first day of heptathlon competition in 21st place, well ahead of the cutoff at 32.
â€śI had a rough start in the hurdles, but I tried to make it up,â€ť Walker said. â€śThe second day has my best events. Iâ€™ve been focusing a lot on the triple jump this season, and all these events are different. I have to adjust from a jumping mindset to a running one, which is hard at times.â€ť
The girls 2000-meter steeplechase was also held on Tuesday, which was won by Sydney Dzenutis of Northwestern. Berlin had a trio of athletes compete, including Juliana Cancellieri, who led her Redcoats teammates with a 14th-place finish.
â€śIâ€™ve never done anything like this before,â€ť Cancellieri said. â€śI didnâ€™t know what to expect. I was really nervous. I was fine with the hurdles, but I fell in the water. It wasnâ€™t something I was expecting.â€ť
The event will conclude on Wednesday back at Manchester, with the boys decathlon finishing up with the 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500 meter run. The girls heptathlon will finish up with the long jump, javelin throw and 800 meter run. The boys steeplechase and hammer throw will begin later, with an expected start time of 3:30 p.m.