NEW BRITAIN – As Sydney Segalla walked around under the stands at Veterans Stadium on Monday, she was hailed by runners and people she did not know. They wanted to congratulate her. They wanted to know if she was running in college.
No, she told them. She would be playing soccer.
“They’re like, ‘Soccer?'” Segalla said, laughing.
Segalla, a senior at Housatonic Regional, started the day by finishing second in the 100 meters to Danbury’s outstanding sprinter Alanna Smith by 0.01 of a second.
Smith, a senior, was the defending State Open 100, 200 and 400 champion. Segalla is in her first year running track. It was the first time she lost a race this season.
Segalla came right back for the 400. She started without blocks because she’s more comfortable that way. She won the 400 in 53.34. Smith finished second in 55.43.
So the 200 meters was going to be the tiebreaker. They were stride for stride. Segalla could see Smith out of the corner of her eye. They crossed the line in a photo finish, and nobody knew who won.
Smith’s name went up first on the board. But it was for second place in 24.40. Segalla won in 24.39.
“What the heck – that was like a movie,” Segalla said. “She’s obviously quicker in the 100. I was [faster] in the 400. It’s funny that the 200 was the in-between race, and we ended 0.01 away from each other. ”
Segalla, who will play soccer at Boston College in the fall, started running track this spring. She was always the fastest girl on her soccer team, both in club and high school, and her teammates always encouraged to run, but she never had the time in the spring.
She started playing soccer at a young age and began playing for her club team, Connecticut Football Club, in seventh grade.
She also played soccer at Housatonic, a small regional school in Falls Village, and basketball. But club soccer always took a lot of time, and by the time the spring rolled around every year, she just didn’t sign up for another sport.
Her mother Kimberly had run track when she was growing up in Illinois her freshman year of high school, specializing in the 400.
“She tried to run [track] a couple times, ”Kimberly said. “Sophomore year, I think she got the uniform. Junior year, she had the uniform and went to one practice. This year, she did the whole thing. ”
Segalla played in a soccer game Sunday in New Jersey and scored two goals. Last week, she won the Class S 100, 200 and 400 and set meet records in 100 (finishing in 11.90 and breaking Terry Miller’s record of 11.93 from 2019) and the 400 (52.96) and after that, she played in a soccer game and scored a goal.
“I had high expectations, but I wasn’t expecting to win two events at the State Opens today when I first started,” Segalla said. “My first ever track meet I ran a 12.9 in the 100 meters. I didn’t run the 400 until two races later. My coach is like, ‘You want to try it out?’ I was like, ‘Sure.’ ”
Now the 400 is her best event.
“I was telling my parents, I don’t know how I’m going to take it if I lose the 100, since I hadn’t lost yet,” she said. “It was weird at first, and I was obviously upset, but there were two more races to go for.”
She checked off the 400, then came back for the 200.
“I thought, ‘This is my last event. It’s less than 30 seconds. I’m going to kill myself on this one and then I’m done, ‘”she said.
Segalla became the first female track athlete from Housatonic since 2014 to win a state championship. Katie Heacox won the CIAC state hammer throw that year.
Her mom was excited after the 200.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kimberly said. “Alana has been doing it awhile so she’s got the technique. The 400, [Sydney] doesn’t even use blocks. The 200 was really the true test for the two, and they were neck and neck. ”
She didn’t think she would be watching her daughter win two State Open titles this spring.
“No, I didn’t even think about it,” Kimberly said.
Lori Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.