Hawks run with state competition

Woodland’s Sean Mardin starts the first leg of a relay for his team during the State Open track meet at Willow Brook Park in New Britain Monday. -STEVEN VALENTI/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys and girls track teams are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

After winning the NVL title for the fifth straight year, the girls team finished 13th with 23 points in the 24-team field at the Class M state championship meet last week. The boys, who finished third in the NVL, placed 12th in Class M with 20 points.

“We always want to compete at our best,” Woodland girls head coach Jeff Lownds said. “But there are some very good and very deep teams across the state, and we see that in the state meets. We have shown ourselves well representing Woodland and this season was no different.”

Erika Michie led the girls team with a second-place finish in the 200 meters in 26.38 and a third-place finish in the 100 meters at 12.93.

“Erika Michie is a special talent and leads by example,” Lownds said.

Stephanie McLean finished fourth in the discus at 94 feet, 9 inches. Jasmine Michie placed seventh in the shot put at 30 feet, 5 1/4 inches and Kristen Persico was seventh in the javelin at 95 feet, 3 inches.

Craig Starkey, the NVL pole vault champion, placed eighth at the Class M meet. The only other points scored for Woodland belonged to the three relay squads that all qualified for the State Open.

The 4×100 team of Sean Mardin, Ben Nuss, Jack LaPerriere and Tom Smith raced to fourth in 45.05.

The 4×400 team of Isiah Miller, Mark Crowley, Cedric Benoit and Matt Luxeder finished as the Class M runner-up in 3:29.60.

The 4×800 team of Miller, Benoit, Luxeder and Edit Krivca took third in 8:16.79.

“Our boys team under first-year head coach Bill Ferrare really did well in a very competitive NVL league, and our three relay teams all made the State Open,” Lownds said.

At the State Open on Monday, Erika Michie was 15th in the 200 in 26.05 and McLean was 23rd in the discus at 84 feet, 2 inches. The 4×100 boys relay team did not race, but the 4×400 team finished 15th and the 4×800 team placed 22nd.

The boys will graduate around 15 athletes, including a handful of go-to guys. But, with a bulk of the relay teams intact along with NVL champions in Smith and Starkey, the Hawks should remain in the running for the top spot in the league next season.

The girls team will lose seven seniors to graduation. McLean (throwing), Samantha Plasky (pole vault, sprints), Gianna Polletta (relays), Jordan Williams (hurdles), Alexa Hassan (throws), Erin Machado (relays) and Gillian Hotchkiss (mid distance) leave with the experience of being NVL champs all four years of high school.

“We are only losing seven athletes on the girls team to graduation, but for the past three or four years they were big point-scorers for us and they will be hard to replace,” Lownds said.

Woodland will not come back emptyhanded next season. The Hawks will be led by juniors Erika Michie, who won the NVL titles in the 100 and 200, and Emilie Noreika, the NVL pole vault champion.

Juniors Megen Sirowich (relays, mid distance), Persico and Christina Hart (throws) and Alexandra Cianciolo (jumps) along with sophomores Stephanie and Kristina Poynton (jumps, relays) bring experience to next year’s team.

Lownds is also excited about the development of some of the younger athletes who stepped up this season.

“Emma Slavin scored points for us as freshman in the 1600 and 3200,” he said. “Freshman Jade Brennan was a pleasant surprise and was the NVL 400 champion. Jasmine Michie is another freshman who stepped up and gave us some big performances.”

“We have a good core coming back,” he added. “But depth is going to be the key when it comes time for the championship meets, and we hope to add a few more athletes next season to continue what we have going at Woodland.”