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Silfvenius, Fithian among best in New England

Kingswood senior, Prospect junior both earn top-three finishes at New England Championships

PROSPECT MOUNTAIN junior Isaac Fithian stands (above the number three) with the other top six finishers in the 1,600 meters at the New England Championships Saturday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 15, 2009
BURLINGTON, Vt. — For a few, it was a chance to gain valuable experience in hopes of returning.

For a few others, it was a way to close out their high school careers against the best of the best.

And for one, it was the perfect excuse for missing graduation.

However, for all six of the local athletes who competed at the new England High School Track and Field Championships on Saturday, June 13, at Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt., it was an experience they will likely remember for a while.

Among those six athletes, however, the one who will probably remember this day on the shores of Lake Champlain the most is Kingswood's Kirsten Silfvenius.

By the time she took to the track on Saturday afternoon, she was technically a graduate of Kingswood Regional High School. Her classmates had walked down the aisle on the football field in front of friends and family. While she was warming up, they were likely celebrating with friends and family.

But there is no doubt that the Knight star will remember her graduation day for years to come.

Silfvenius, competing in the 300-meter hurdles under the hot afternoon sun, ran to a time of 44.77, breaking her own school record of a week earlier by almost two seconds, winning her heat and taking second overall among all the New England competitors.

"I couldn't believe it," she said after the awards ceremony where she picked up her second-place medal. "This is the most satisfying way to end high school. I couldn't imagine a better way to represent my school and finish off the year.

"Graduation would've been fun, but I'm thrilled I can graduate track and school at the same time," she continued.

Kingswood coach Paul Harvey had nothing but praise for this season's star athlete.

"She's an incredible athlete and she still has a lot of potential for the future," the veteran coach noted. "That is the fastest I've ever seen her run and it couldn't have happened to a better kid."

Harvey went on to explain that one thing he and his fellow coaches try to preach is to perform when you need to, at the right moment.

"That's what you need kids to do, you try to get them to perform when they need to," he said. "Kirsten just put everything together and it worked out great."

Silfvenius was seeded 12th entering the race and was placed in the second of three seeds, with the girls with the fastest qualifying times in the final heat.

Even when Silfvenius crossed the line first in her heat it was tough to know exactly where she might finish, with the "faster" girls still left to run.

However, the only girl to beat the Knight star's time was Lauren Ventrella of Norwalk, Conn., who finished in 44.42.

Silfvenius will be taking her track skills to the University of New Hampshire next season, where she will be competing on the track where she qualified for the New England Championships.

The other local athlete to take home hardware from the elite meet was Prospect Mountain junior Isaac Fithian, who rallied from the middle of the pack toward the front on the final lap to finish third in the 1,600 meters in a time of 4:16.38, easily besting his personal best time set a week earlier at the Meet of Champions.

Fithian started out of the gate as the 14th seed overall and broke to the front of the pack quickly. However, he was overtaken by the end of the first lap and stayed back in traffic until the final lap, when he began picking off competitors one at a time.

In the end, only two runners were in front of him, Manchester Central star Cory Sinotte (4:12.04) and Tim O'Loughlin of Westerly, R.I. (4:15.40).

"He's a great finisher," Prospect coach Kristi Hikel noted.

Coach John Tuttle pointed out that he had set some splits for Fithian prior to the race and the junior was within one second of every single one.

While the remainder of the local entourage didn't go home with medals, they all took something from their experience.

For Prospect Mountain, senior Jack LaFreniere, competing in track for the very first time this year, competed in the 200 and finished in a time of 23.74.

Hikel noted that the meet was a little bittersweet for the senior, as it was his final track competition.

Freshman Danielle Tidd just missed clearing the opening height of five feet in the high jump, a mark she had reached for the first time a week earlier.

Hikel hoped that the experience of competing against the best of the best will only benefit the youngster in the future.

"I am proud of them," Hikel said. "They did what they needed to do."

She noted that she hoped Fithian and Tidd would both get another chance to come back and in doing so, will hopefully bring others with them.

"Hopefully they'll be back and they can spark some interest in getting others to this point too," Hikel said.

Kennett athletes Kim Theophelakes and Zach Switaj may not have walked left the upper reaches of Vermont with their best performances, but coach Bernie Livingston was nonetheless impressed with what they achieved.

"You go there with the idea your going to do your best and it doesn't always happen," he said. "Frequently our guys peak a little earlier."

Livingston said there was no question the effort was there on the part of his athletes, but the fact that they were going up against the best of the best meant that they came up a bit short.

Switaj finished the 800 meters in a time of 2:00.48.

The winning time was turned in by Nick Wade of North Attleboro, Mass., who finished in 1:54.46.

Theophelakes, in her final appearance as a Kennett Eagle, finished with a top throw of 104 feet, six inches in the javelin.

The top throw came from Keila Grigware of Biddeford, Maine, who tossed a distance of 137 feet, 10 inches.

"In no way does it take away from what they've done this year," Livingston said. "They did the best they could and I was happy with that.

"It was definitely worth the trip, all in all it was a great experience," Livingston continued. "I couldn't have been prouder of them if they won the meet themselves."

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