Women’s Track And Field Wins NEC; Men Finish Second

Patrick Gustavson, Sports Editor

When Sierra Nesmith was handed the baton for the last leg of the 4×400-meter relay, it appeared the Central Connecticut women’s track and field team would play bridesmaid at the Northeast Conference meet for the third-straight year.

But Nesmith chased down the runner from Saint Francis (PA) and that crucial extra position gave the Blue Devils the NEC Championships by just a half point over Sacred Heart, the first Outdoors championship in school history.

“It was unbelievable, Sierra’s last lap there. If she didn’t catch the Saint Francis runner, we lose the meet,” head coach Eric Blake said of the performance. “Sierra never gave up on that race. There were so many times where she could have just still run hard, still finished fifth or sixth and no would have blamed her because she had a great day. She gave it all and it paid off.”

Blake said he was happy for Nesmith and her fellow seniors, who had fallen just short each of the last two years. But they finally hoisted the championship trophy on Sunday.

Following the first day on Saturday, Blake said the women’s team needed to have a “great day” in order to pull off the win and that they did.

Junior Dawn Hubbell winning the five-kilometer run, junior Megan Brawner winning the 1500-meter run, the performance of McKenna Killian and Hailey Rospierski in the hurdles and even Danyelle Engels earning one point in the shot put were all difference-makers, per Blake, in the team’s slim victory.

Hubbell was named the Most Outstanding Performer for runners on the meet.

On the men’s side, they had a strong two days, finishing second with 150 points earned. However, they were simply out-performed by Saint Francis (PA), who totaled a whopping 192 points.

“Saint Francis came and it was definitely a better two days for them. They competed tough and they’ve got a big team with a lot of good athletes and got the win,” Blake said.

Despite this, Blake said the men had a great day and applauded them for their “extremely” hard work.

After winning both the long jump and high jump on Saturday, junior Kevorni Welsh was awarded the Most Outstanding Performer for jumps.

Fellow junior Richard Grudzwick also had a strong meet, winning the 800-meter run for the second year in a row.

“I didn’t know where the guys were if there was anybody behind me. So, it was going all the way through and giving it my best those lost 100 meters,” Grudzwick said of his performance.

The Blue Devils also made their presence known on the podium in two events.

In the 5k, junior Roberto Piotto led for a majority of the race but was passed on the last lap, settling for a silver medal. Senior Alex Norstrom took home the bronze for the event.

Quincy Sanchez finished second in the 400-meter hurdles and was trailed by freshman Laurenzo Thompkins who joined him in medaling.

The Blue Devils will now send around 10 athletes to the IC4A/ECAC Championships next weekend.  Blake called the meet a last chance to qualify for the NCAA meet.

“This was the team meet. That is more for individuals,” Blake said.

Blake said Nesmith and Grudzwick were the two athletes he felt had the best chance to reach these times.

“It’s on the fringe. I definitely know I can run faster,” Grudzwick said of his chances.