There was no stopping the Darien High girls indoor track and field team on January 31.
The Blue Wave took first place in seven of the 15 events for a dominating victory at the FCIAC championships at Hillhouse High School. Darien won with 116 points. Ridgefield won a fierce battle for second with 50 points, followed by Staples with 48, Wilton with 44.5 and Greenwich with 44.
"We have a lot of experienced kids who can deal with issues that come up and don't get flustered and know what it's all about," said longtime Darien coach Steve Norris. "Most of these people have been here before. They know where they ranked and they knew what they had to do. They did what they were supposed to do. As a coach, it's kind of easy. In a lot of cases, I'm just sitting back and watching."
Winners for Darien included Maddie Schneider in the pole vault, Grace Loh in the 1,000 meters, Leah Hotchkiss in the high jump, Dillon Schoen in the 600, Taylor McDonald in the shot put, Catherine Lacy in the long jump and the 4x200 relay team of Anna Sulger, Schneider, Elizabeth Fucigna and Schoen.
Wilton's Shannon Quinlan won two individual events, taking first in the 300 and the 55.
Darien opened the meet with a victory in the 4x200 relay with a time of 1:47.03. The Blue Wave edged Greenwich's quartet of Isabella Narvaez, Anna Black, Emily Johnson and Naomi Leeds by just 15-hundredths of a second.
"The first relay was a key," Norris said. "Clearly it was close, and we knew we had to run well. We ran the second-best time in our history. That kind of set the tone."
Schneider, in particular, enjoyed a torrid start to the meet, winning gold medals in two of the first three events. Not only was she part of that winning Darien relay, but she also won the pole vault by clearing 10-feet-6. Darien's Jessica Thornbury and Ridgefield's Rachel Moroknek tied for second in the pole vault, each clearing 10 feet, and Danbury's Lyzandra Fernandes took fourth, also at 10 feet. Later on, Schneider took third in the 55 hurdles in 9.22 seconds.
Fairfield Warde won the 4x800 relay, with the team of Cate Allen, Katie Tangney, Paige Hanley and Caroline Keough finishing in 9:46.45. Allen later won the 1,600. Ridgefield's 4x800 team of Laura Hergenrother, Sarah Mickool, Hannah Fleming and Sarah Guillaume took second in 9:50.59. Hergenrother later took second in the 1,000 in 3:07.20. Darien's Loh won the 1,000 in 3:03.76, followed by Hergenrother in second in 3:07.20 and Greenwich's Jennifer Goggin in third in 3:10.18.
Darien extended its early lead by taking first and second in the high jump, the fifth event of the evening. Hotchkiss won, clearing 5-feet-2, followed by Catherine Lacy at 5 feet. Danbury's Fernandez finished third at 4-10. That upped the Blue Wave's leading point total to 55. Ridgefield was second after five events with 24.
Darien also took the top two places in the 600 meters, with Schoen winning in 1:36.08 and Sulger taking second in 1:36.46. Sulger later took second in the 300 in 41.42.
McMahon's Sarah Boyd won the 55 hurdles in 9.11, followed by Norwalk's Tamia Taylor in second in 9.34. Quinlan won the 55 meters for Wilton in 7.46, followed by Anna Black of Greenwich in 7.49 and Taylor in third in 7.50.
Westhill's Claire Howlett took second in the 1,600 in 5:06.35 and Staples' Hannah Dibalsi took third in 5:07.27. Later in the meet, Howlett won the 3,200 in 10:48.08 and was followed by Dibalsi in second (10:50.41) and Hergenrother in third (11:39.59).
After 10 events, Darien had all but locked up the team title, with a 69-point lead on the second-place team. That set up a battle for second place, with Staples, Ridgefield, Wilton, Danbury, Greenwich and Fairfield Warde separated by a mere eight points with five events remaining.
Ridgefield's sprint medley relay team of Amanda Berta, Leah Phelan, Molly Weeks and Hannah Fleming won by more than five seconds to move the Tigers back into second place in the team standings. Greenwich's foursome of Lindsey Noskin, Anna Giannuzzi, Emily Johnson and Kathryn Bernstein took second in 4:29.08.
Lacy won the long jump for Darien with a jump of 18-4.5, followed by Ridgefield's Berta with a jump of 16-5.
Quinlan's win in the 300 (41.04) moved Wilton into second place by 4.5 points with three events to go. But Debalsi's and Hergenrother's performances in the 3,200 pulled Ridgefield and Staples ahead of Wilton.
Greenwich won the final event of the evening, the 4x400 relay, with the team of Narvaez, Black, Jennifer Goggin and Leeds finishing in 4:07.17. Staples took second in 4:14.10.