By Chris McNamee Sports editor Posted: 02/23/2009 11:31:55 PM EST
For Greenwich High School's Kiki Kates, the waiting was the hardest part.
Winning her 600-meter heat at Saturday's CIAC State Open, that was easy.
Running in the first of three heats at the New Haven Athletic Center Saturday, Kates, a sophomore seeded 18th, had to wait until the completion of two other heats of higher seeds before learning her fate.
When all was said and done Kates' school record of 1:40.88 landed her in fifth place in the 600 -- qualifying her for the New England High School Track & Field Championships on March 6 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Brookline, Mass.
In addition to New Englands, Kates' time automatically qualifies her for the National Scholastic Meet at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York in mid-March.
It was extremely stressful, Kates said of biding her time until the final results were announced. I was seeded with not too good a time. So I knew I just had to run my race and win my heat and hope it would be a fast enough time.
I stood there crossing my fingers (watching the other heats) hoping to make the Top 6.
Finally the 600 results came over the loud speaker and Kates heard her name in fifth place.
It was extremely exciting, Kates said. Coach Mongovan just told me to do my best. I was determined to run my best and I came through. It's very exciting.
Kates broke the 2004 mark of 1:41.76 set by Lara Levine, who went on to a fine career Advertisement Quantcast at Union College.
When Kiki just made it into the State Open Meet with the 18th seed the only place that she could have gone was up, Mongovan said. She focused on the second of the three laps and sought a faster line from the break point to the racing lane and it all seemed work.
Mongovan left the Open impressed by his blossoming star's performance.
She raced very maturely. Kiki is the first 600-meter New England qualifier in the history of our program, Mongovan said. Actually, very few sophomores and freshmen for that matter have individually qualified.
Racing at the New England meet won't be a foreign experience for Kates, who was a part of Greenwich's 4x400 team that ran last year. Kates was joined on that team by Avery O'Grady (University of Virginia), Rebecca Leeds (Brown University) and Elizabeth DeVivo.
Kates performance was certainly the highlight of the day for the Cardinals, but it wasn't the only one. Kates teamed with Sophie Vos, Fiona Kwan and DeVivo to place 11th in the Sprint Medley Relay, where they lowered their time from 4:34.93 to 4:30.71.
On the boys side, the 4x200 relay team improved again on their GHS record in the event. Alex Crist, Mike Gallagher, Lucas Shasha and Tim Morghan clocked in at 1:36.54, good enough for 10th place.
The 4x200 relay team has had a good season, Mongovan said. With the exception of Alex Crist this was their first season of indoor track. With each meet that they have run together they have gotten better. It's too bad that it has to end here, but the time that they have put up will stand in the records books for a while.
Greenwich's John Gelcius took eighth in the shot put with a throw of 46-feet, 10.25 inches, just under his season best of 47-9. Gelcius has already has qualified for the National Scholastic Meet and has his sights set on the GHS record of 47-11 set by Tom Harvey in 1977. Gelcius could find the two feet he needs at the USATF-CT indoor meet at Yale Univeristy on March 15.
In the 300, Tim Morghan finished in 12th place with a time of :37.32.
As for Kates, its on to New Englands and then the nationals.
It's so exciting, said Kates, whose goal is to run another personal best at the New England meet. I've never run at the Armory. Coach Mongovan says its a fast track, so we'll see. I'm really excited to run there.