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East Lyme girls beat Stonington in meeting of track & field unbeatens

Stonington — Twins Ashley and Danielle Zelesky are almost always together.

They're in all the same classes except one at East Lyme High School.

They run track for the Vikings, focusing on the hurdle events. Even their personal best in 300-meter hurdles are almost the same — Ashley's is 50.3 seconds, Danielle's 50.8. They also compete in the 4x400 relay and 100 hurdles.

They're heading to Quinnipiac University after graduation this spring and plan to be roommates and major in nursing.

They share another thing in common.

Both are wonderful kids, according to coach Carl Reichard.

"They're the kind of kids that make me really proud to be a track coach," Reichard said.

On Wednesday, the Zelesky twins helped East Lyme remain undefeated with a 95-51 win at Stonington in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I track and field meet. The Vikings improved to 5-0, 4-0, and the Bears fell to 3-1, 2-1.

With both teams entering the day undefeated, the Zeleskys treated it like a big meet.

"A lot of times, we're usually winning by a lot. so it doesn't matter as much," Danielle said. "But this meet, we're definitely close so every point counts."

The meet also held more meaning to the Zelesky twins for another reason.

The season will be their last competing together as teammates.

"We have three weeks left and then we're done, forever," Ashley said. "It's just weird after four years of doing it so often."

They're taking advantage of the time they have left with the track team.

The twins took the top two spots in the 300 hurdles, with Danielle winning in 50.8 and Ashley second in 51.7. Ashley won the 100 hurdles in 17.6 and Danielle was third in 18.0. Both were personal bests and qualified them for the states. They also both ran a leg on the winning 4x400 relay team, joining Margaret Dunne and Katherine Harris.

Pretty darn good for two kids who were basically new to the sport coming into high school.

"They had no idea; They started running because they liked running," Reichard said. "They never had any expectations that they would be really good at it. They train all year. They run cross country even though they're not really cross country kids. They lift weights.

"They're strong as heck. Both of them can squat 225. You look at them and you say, Holy Cow, that's a lot of weight for somebody that size. ... They're great kids."

Even though he's coached the twins for four years, Reichard admits that he still can't tell them apart.

Their teammates also have trouble in that department.

"We can only tell from their different colored shoes," senior Brianna am Ende said. "One has pink shoes, one has blue shoes. I couldn't even tell you which one has the blue shoes. They're so identical. And the masks make it harder."

Am Ende scored some valuable points for the Vikings. She bettered her personal best by five seconds while winning the 800 meters in 2:30.7 and qualifying for states in that event. She attributed the improvement to harder workouts recently.

"The first couple of meets, my times have been the same, very consistent," am Ende said.  "They've all been around 2:35. So this was pretty exciting. Maybe it was because it's such a nice day or I'm peaking toward the middle of the season."

Junior Savannah Soleau was a double winner for the Vikings, finishing first in the shot put (36 feet, five inches) and the discus (91-10).

For Stonington, junior Nancy Inthasit turned in a strong performance, winning the 100 in 12.8 and 200 in 26.8

Senior Lila Rich won the high jump, clearing a personal best five feet, and Sophia Anderson was first in the pole vault (7-6) for the Bears. Helena Hoinsky captured the 400 in 64.2.

Given what's transpired over the last year or so, Stonington coach Jeff Parkinson is just happy to have an outdoor season. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 outdoor season and shortened this past indoor season.

"Honestly, we're just excited to be out there and have some nice weather and run a nice meet," Parkinson said. "It looks like we're going to have a chance to have a league championship and state championship, so it's going to be pretty close to normal for these kids."

There will be separate ECC championship meets for Division I and Division II. Just like the indoor season. Division I schools will compete at East Lyme.

g.keefe@theday.com

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