In 1982, now legendary Yale track coach emeritus, Mark T. Young, decided to offer up the school’s Coxe Cage indoor dirt track to the best high school talent in the region. Among the handful of coaches invited to participate in the early planning sessions was Staples coach, Laddie Lawrence. Thirty years later, the Yale Invitational, as it is commonly known as, registered 1698 track and field athletes from 23 states, each of whom was required to meet a challenging standard in their event in order to participate.
To accommodate the immense turnout, the meet began during school hours on Friday, January 20, and spanned into the evening of January 21. This year, Staples was fortunate enough to send 17 boys and 7 girls, who all acquitted themselves extremely well.
The meet got off to a flying start as Jon Heil, Max Hoberman, and Zach Mitchell all achieved rarified air by breaking 37 seconds in the 300M, comprising a quarter of the mere dozen runners to do so in a field of 168. Dean Heffnawy and David Hoffman set personal bests in the low 38s, while Jackson Yang and Tucker Rizzi clocked in in the low 39s.
The boys 4×800 relay (Walker Marsh, Patrick Nolan, Mikolaj Kulis, and Henry Wynne) ran one for the ages, as anchor Wynne closed a sizeable gap by the leader and leveraged a tactically perfect finish to steal away the gold. Also competing well was the 4×800 team of Kyle Hoberman, Sam Cohen, Ian Teran, and Brad Payne.
The girls 4×400 relay team (Tyler Scanlin, Sioban O’Loughlin, Alexandra Popkin, and Courtney Mullen) then followed with a strong sixth place finish among the other 26 Connecticut teams in the field. The boys 4×400 relay team (Jon Heil, Walker Marsh, Max Hoberman, and Henry Wynne) were just edged out by a team from Colonie, NY to take the silver. In the CT-only division, the boys 4×400 team (Dean Hefnawy, Jack Scott, Giles Bonner, and Zach Mitchell) finished fourth.
Caroline Koenig started Saturday off in style with a 10:51 3000m. Dean Hefnawy then tied for fifth in the pole vault at 12.06 feet. Henry Wynne, boxed in most of the race, put on a bell lap kick to blow away the field to win the mile in 4:22.64, besting a total of 58 other runners in the process. Of special note, Ned Willig of Great Valley, PA scorched a 1:51.25 800, by far the fastest in the US this year and the eighth fastest time ever recorded.
Saturday evening saw the boys 4×200 relay (Jon Heil, David Hoffman, Max Hoberman, and Zach Mitchell) dash to second place among the elite teams that qualified for the championship round, edged out in a close one by the combined team from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, NY. The girls 4×800 relay (Georgia Kursten, Courtney Mullen, Caroline Smith, and Alexandra Popkin) took fourth in their championship round.
Next up for Staples is the Western Division Championships, which will take place at the Staples field house starting at 2pm. As always, for more information about Staples Track & Field, including more photos and videos, please go to http://staplesrunning.com/.