By Reid L. Walmark
So Warde swept all three events against Ludlowe on Tuesday, winning in wrestling and both basketballs. The expectation here was for the Mustangs or Falcons to win two of the three, with an equal shot of it going either way. The records going in were close to identical.
This Warde triple wasn't accomplished through luck -- although some shots rimmed in, some shots rimmed out -- and claims of Warde wanting it more will be heard ... and ignored. But the winning basketball teams from Warde each must be praised for digging down when both hoops games were up for grabs late and finding the ingredients that sent both Falcons' teams home disappointed. Does that go to home-court advantage or character?
Speaking of character. The most noteworthy impression left from recent coverage of Warde and Ludlowe teams in the past week was the surprising display of composure and maturity by the Mustangs' most decorated track and cross country athlete, senior Cate Allen, at the Class L championship meet on Feb. 6 in New Haven. What she did revealed character, something rarely seen in adults.
Allen, who was sixth at the State Open in cross country last fall, had won four individual events in her first three seasons in indoor track and field. She was seeded first in the three distance events -- 1,000, 1,600 and 3,200 meters -- ran the metric mile and two-mile and won neither, finishing a close second in both despite turning in times that surpassed the previous meet records.
Some teenagers would have been devastated; most would have been discombobulated upon being interviewed by reporters so soon after the wounds were raw and without the luxury of decompressing their emotions at their own pace. Allen faced the music, answered the questions, did not put on a phoney smiley face like a beauty-pageant contestant and spoke about the races with candor, sophistication and objectivity. She could give A-Rod a lesson on interview conduct.
Allen lost to Wilbur Cross sophomore Danae Rivers by 1.88 seconds in the 1,600. She lost in the 3,200 to Mercy senior Kaleigh Roberts by 1.67 seconds after the bell to signal the final lap arrived following the 14th lap, not the 15th. Allen had the lead just before the real final lap but could not protect it in the second running of the last lap.
If that cannot beckon tears, what will?
She was no happy camper after each defeat, appearing bewildered over the 3,200's conclusion as were almost everyone who was following the race.
Allen essentially told the media that she believed she ran well, the winners ran better and then began focusing on the lessons from defeat she can apply to the State Open this Saturday in which she is seeded fourth in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200. Others in her place might have been still crying, still streaming out expletives or been curled up in a corner or chilling out in the far reaches of the bleachers.
Alllen behaved as though she knew there are good days, bad days and days in between. Timewise it was great day, placewise not so much four a four-time L champion.
"She rebounded almost immediately," Warde coach Shawn Sorbello said. "Little consolation could be extended to her. We told her to be proud of what she's accomplished."
Horsebleep happens in life. Some deal with it, others do not. Most toggle between. Sports is supposed to instill character and to develop life skills to contend with adversity. Allen has been a good student of cross country and track and, for the fall of her freshman and sophomore years, in soccer.
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Ludlowe entered at 22-2 against Warde in wrestling. Falcons coach Nick Garoffolo said the Mustangs (20-3) are too strong. Earlier in the season Warde coach Jason Shaughnessy said Ludlowe is an improving team. More improvement by the Falcons and they will give Warde a run for its money. Until then, Warde will continue to dominate this rivalry by having won all 10 matches between the schools.
Warde played its best basketball late in the third quarter and for almost all of the fourth quarter in the girls game, the first in the twinbill honoring the national Coaches vs. Cancer games to collect donations to help fight the disease. During the Mustangs' rally, they showed more tenacity and resiliency than the Falcons, who were hampered by the injury to their best player, Caroline Pangallo.
The boys game was proof that a game against a cross-town rival can bring out the best in a team. Warde didn't fall apart when Ludlowe rallied in the second half and made the key plays down the stretch to set up Brian Kerrigan's winning foul shot in the final 25 seconds of overtime.
Warde is 2-0 this season against Ludlowe, 0-13 against everyone else. The Falcons are 0-2 versus the Mustangs but 4-8 against teams not from Fairfield.