NEW HAVEN — Lyman Hall senior shot putter Chris Ruggiero literally saved his best for last Monday at the CIAC State Open indoor track meet at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Mired in sixth place heading into his final attempt, the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder uncorked a throw of 51 feet, 8 inches.
It was the best throw of his career and it landed him a State Open crown
“I knew it was going to be a good throw,” Ruggiero said. “I felt I had a good grip on it. Then I just put everything I had into it. I put all of my might behind it.”
Ruggiero, the Class M champ, edged out Southington senior Matthew Bennett’s top throw of 50 feet, 5 inches. Bennett, the Class LL champ, was the top seed heading into the Open and was in first place until Ruggiero’s final throw.
“His day did not start well,” LH indoor track coach David Palmer said of Ruggiero. “He fouled on his first throw and was in sixth place, just clinging to qualifying for New England’s. But with one throw he is State Open champion and has now qualified for Nationals. He had us on the edge of our seats.”
Ruggiero became the first Lyman Hall shot put State Open champion since Mike Tyrrell, who did it in 1993.
“It’s just feels really great to bring something back to Lyman Hall,” Ruggiero said. “I’m happy to do this for my coaches and being a champions feels kind of nice, too.”
Ruggiero and Bennett will represent Connecticut at the New England Open on March 1 in Boston and then at Nationals later in the month.
In the girls shot put, Sheehan junior Michaela Mendygral exceeding her seeding. She threw for 38 feet, 6 1/2 inches to earn a second-place finish. Her throw was well over two feet past her qualifying mark.
Also for Sheehan, sophomore Griffin Cobb placed fourth in the 600 meters with a time of 1:25.30.
Cheshire senior Liam Nicoll earned a sixth-place finished in the 300 meters in 36.08 and fellow Rams senior Selina Sampieri tied for fourth in the pole vault with a mark of 10 feet.
Danbury won the boys championship with 48 points. Wilbur Cross earned the girls Open crown with 46 points.