Hawks keep eyes on finish line

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Woodland’s Zach Noreika holds the lead in the 4x800 during a track meet versus Sacred Heart and Kennedy May 5 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Zach Noreika holds the lead in the 4×800 during a track meet versus Sacred Heart and Kennedy May 5 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — When the Woodland Hawks hit the track the first thing they focus on is the finish line, and they have crossed it ahead of their competition on a consistent basis over the years.

The boys team came into this season as the three-time defending NVL outdoor champions, while the girls are the two-time NVL outdoor champs.

There seems to be no letting up on the gas pedal for Woodland.

The boys swept Kennedy, 116-34, and Sacred Heart, 127-23, May 5 to push their record to 12-1 on the season for head coach Tim Shea.

The girls remained undefeated at 12-0 with convincing victories May 5 over Sacred Heart, 119-31, and Kennedy, 144-6, for head coach Jeff Lownds.

“We took a big hit to graduation last year, but these kids come into the program looking to continue what was started,” Shea said. “We had some big voids to fill, but these kids stepped up. What’s even more encouraging is we have a very talented and competitive freshman class and they will be ready to fill the spots next year.”

One of the pleasant surprises for the boys team this year is the emergence of long-distance threat Brian Sardinskas. The junior runner has been on automatic pilot, winning in the 1,600 and 3,200 all season. In a tight win over Seymour, 80-70, last week Sardinskas won the two events to help edge out the Wildcats.

“Brian is a cross country runner and a former baseball player,” Shea said. “He has been a great edition as our distance guys have been keeping us in a lot of meets, and that was true in the win over Seymour.”

Woodland’s Lauren Lombardo competes in the long jump during a track meet against Sacred Heart and Kennedy May 5 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Lauren Lombardo competes in the long jump during a track meet against Sacred Heart and Kennedy May 5 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL

Tom Bethin has stepped into a dual role in the long jump and the mid distance. The senior runner won the 400 for the second week in a row and won the long jump in the Seymour meet.

“Tom came in and filled a huge void for us in the long jump,” Shea said. “He is also part of the relay squads that have kept us competitive.”

Pat Hale is the leader in the hurdles while doing double duty in the pole vault. On Tuesday, Hale won the 110 and 300 hurdles, and then vaulted 11 feet, 6 inches to win the pole vault.

Drew Chura gives the Hawks a double threat in the pole vault, as he won the event last week at 10 feet, 6 inches. Dean Conway has also made his presence felt, winning the 800 for the second week in a row.

Woodland has been putting together some consistency in the relay squads. Jeff Moffat, Colton Cronin, James Yacavone, Zach Norieka, Conway, Sardinskas and Bethin have combined to lead the Hawks to victory.

The girls rely on several key athletes to do four events, and that has been a huge part of their success. The diverse abilities of their athletes have set them apart, which has been evident in recent meets.

Jazmyn Menzies showed her jumping skills on Tuesday’s as she won the high jump, long jump and triple jump.

“Jazmyn has been battling through a knee issue so we haven’t had her try to run on it,” Lownds said. “But she is a very strong-willed determined competitor and insisted she was fine to do the jumps and by the results, apparently she is.”

Abby Rosato also won three events on Tuesday, the javelin, shot put and discus. She came up big in the win over Seymour, as well.

Julio Quintero clears the bar in the high jump during a track meet against Sacred Heart and Kennedy May 5 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL
Julio Quintero clears the bar in the high jump during a track meet against Sacred Heart and Kennedy May 5 at Woodland. –LUKE MARSHALL

“Abby came up huge for us in the win over Seymour. She won the javelin and took two second places in the shot put and discus. Without those 11 points I was really concerned that we might not have enough to get by Seymour.”

Another strong point for the Hawks is the hurdles. On Tuesday, Christine Angrand raced to victory in the 100 hurdles and Michelle Angrand out paced the competition to win the 300 hurdles.

Woodland is strong in the distance runs also, led by NVL cross country champion Kelsey Mitchell. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 over Seymour, and on Tuesday raced to victory in the 3,200. Clara Drozdowski took first in the 1,600.

“Kelsey carries a heavy load for us,” Lownds said. “She’s a smart runner and knows how to pick her spots. Clara is one of our four event athletes and her contribution is huge to our success along with another four event athlete, Haleigh Resnick.”

The bread and butter of the Hawks is a multifaceted relay squad led by mainstays Alexis Casimiro and Megan Sirowich, along with Resnick, Drozdowski and Mitchell. Woodland also adds the talents of Emma Poryanda, Erin Machado and Lisa Thrasher along with the speed of 4×100 runners Erika Michie, Gianna Polletta and Marisa Macek.

“We approach each meet trying to win that day,” Lownds said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Nothing is in our pocket yet, we need to go out and get it.”

Woodland will get a final tune up May 12 in a four-team meet against Torrington, Wolcott and Holy Cross. The NVL championship meet is scheduled for May 27 at Naugatuck High.