Girls’ medley squad has record kick to finish line

Indoor track teams win Class LL state titles


Mary Pacini

Samantha Vasquez, Lauren Moore, Leah Sarkisian and Olivia Turk pose for a picture at the Yale Invitational.

Katie Walsh, Staff Writer

Teams crowned Class LL State Champs

The indoor Girls’ Track & Field team yesterday (Feb. 15) won its second consecutive Class LL State Championship. They were led by winning performances from Bridget Chiaravalle in the 55 Hurdles, Leah Sarkisian in the 600 and an amazing effort by the 4×400 team of Olivia Turk, Natalee Seipio, Cassandra Sturdevant and Leah Sarkisian to seal the victory for the Lady Hatters.

The indoor Boys’ Track and Field team yesterday (Feb. 15) captured their fourth consecutive Class LL State Championship. The team scored 116 points and outdistanced itself from the second place team by 70 points.  Event state champions were Terrell Cunningham in the 300m, Nathaniel Llanos in the pole vault and the 4x400m team of Sean Michael-Parkinson, Malcolm Going, Daniel Campbell, and Terrell Cunningham, who broke the Class LL meet record by running 3:28.

Editor’s Note: The following sports feature was written before the indoor boys’ and girls’ track teams won their respective Class LL state titles on Feb. 15.

As junior Olivia Turk ran the first leg of the 4,000-meter relay, she kept wondering how she was doing.

She explains that the first leg is 1,200 meters and it was the first time she had run the leg. “I had no idea how to run it,” she said with a laugh. “And a cried a little bit when I realized I was only halfway.”

Clearly, she — along with her running mates Leah Sarkisian, Samantha Vasquez, also juniors, and sophomore Lauren Moore — did something right as they won the race and broke the DHS school record with a time of 12:38.11.

They achieved this at the Yale meet on Jan. 7 and since then the girls’ indoor track team has gotten even stronger. Earlier this month, the team won the FCIACs.

As Turk handed off the baton to Moore, the DHS team was among the leaders. “It was hard to tell where I was,” Moore said. “I saw my team cheering for me so that made it easier for me to push myself.”

Moore handed of to Sarkisian, who closed the gap moving Danbury into second place as she successfully handed off the baton to Vasquez.

She in turn kicked and passed the one runner ahead of her to win.

The team has experience working together, as all were involved in outdoor track last spring.

“We’re not just running for ourselves but for each other,” Moore said. “We all work really hard together and feed off each others emotions.”

For athletes to win and become champions, they need to be passionate, committed and work hard.

Coach Nick Fraticelli commends the girls on their “common characteristic of toughness and ability to work hard day in and night. The coaches give the training but the girls make the decision to work hard for each other.”

Vasquez recalls these words of wisdom by her coach: “You can’t keep trying if you don’t get up when you fall.”

With the daily practices and weekly track meets, the girls find a way to stay motivated, focusing on the goals they want to achieve.

Turk is working on playing an even larger role with the team her senior year. “My goal is to be captain next year, I really want to lead the team.  It is a big dream of mine.”

Sarkisian uses experiences to drive her, recalling past performances “are in the back of my mind,” which motivates her to do even better. “Nationals are a big dream and to know we’ve been there before and that we can do it again is a personal driving force,” she said.

Even with the school record, the team just missed out on a national qualification for the distance medley relay.  However, they have another opportunity to qualify for the distance medley relay on Feb. 28 at Easterns.  The team has qualified for the 4×800 meter race.

The girls’ track team has had a successful season thus far, including recently winning the FCIAC title. Sarkisian attributes the team’s success to “so many different people with so many different personalities [and talents, coming] together as a team.”

Turk, Moore and Vasquez refer to the team as “a big family.”

Fraticelli credits their success as a team, first to the mentality of the girls and second to the “girls establishing a culture where they value hard work [and] toughness. All of which goes a long way.”