BEACON FALLS — The Woodland track and field juggernaut is ready for what could be one of the most competitive all-around Naugatuck Valley League seasons in recent memory.
The boys, defending NVL outdoor champions who narrowly finished second at January’s indoor meet, and the girls, who have won the last three combined NVL track championship meets, are both on the short list of top contenders to take this spring’s titles.
Woodland girls coach Jeff Lownds said his girls, in particular, were motivated to win the indoor title and have brought the same intensity to the outdoor season.
“Our girls this year in indoor really dedicated themselves to winning that championship,” Lownds said. “There weren’t any dual meets to work with, so they dedicated themselves to winning the NVL. They’ve brought that attitude back (to outdoor) so hopefully we’ve got enough focus and energy to get it done again.”
The boys, meanwhile, lost a few pieces from their indoor team that would have won the league title if not for a disqualification in the sprint medley relay. Anthony Scirpo (baseball) and Kyle Beynor (tennis) are among the members of the indoor squad playing other spring sports, but the Hawks gained several athletes from basketball and swimming in the winter.
“From what we lost in indoor, we’ve picked up some good stuff in outdoor,” said Woodland boys coach Tim Shea, who pointed to Rahmi Rountree, Shane Classey, Steve McCusker and Jack Pinho as the key additions.
The boys lost plenty from their dominant 2012 outdoor squad, including double gold medalist Tim Madormo (hurdles), two-year javelin champion Scott Lang and relay stars Jon Alaron, Marc Beaulieu and Eric Dietz.
But Woodland returns Mike Lang, who may be on his way to becoming the best track athlete in the history of the school. He won three gold medals at this year’s NVL indoor competition and earned all-New England honors in the long jump. He will add triple jump to his repertoire this spring.
“We’re teaching him (triple jump) now,” said Shea, who added Lang’s regular events will be the 100- and 200-meter dashes along with the long and high jumps. “With picking up Rahmi (a sprinting specialist), we could put Mike in another jump instead of keeping him on the track. That will come down to who we have week to week.”
Nick LaPerriere (mid-distance), Brett Fowler (hurdles), Ian Chamenko (distance), Andy Hale (mid-distance), Levi Fancher (throws), Scott Seigle (mid-distance), Hunter Watford (sprints) and Daemion Powell (sprints) all come off successful indoor seasons while Classey (pole vault) and Pinho (mid-distance) should fill in various spots.
Shea said the team is looking to develop depth in events. The boys have 68 members on the roster and are focused on building athletes who can earn points in each event.
“Right now we’re trying to find second and third guys in every event,” Shea said. “It’s not about being the guy; it’s about being one of the guys.”
The Woodland girls return almost everyone from both this year’s NVL indoor title-winning team and the squad that lost just one meet in the last outdoor season. The Hawks’ captains include Sydney Corneau and Jiye Park, who will both see time on the track and in jumps, sprinters Tayler Boncal and Steph Dumond, and thrower Nikki Tyrrell.
“I’m looking to them not only to lead as captains, but also to lead on the track,” Lownds said.
Ashley Michie is the most prominent addition from the indoor season. She played basketball but is back after a tremendous last outdoor campaign.
“Getting Ashley back is really big for us,” said Lownds, who projected Michie to run in the 100, 200, 4-by-100 and 4-by-400. “She was the outstanding track performer last year.”
Audra Blewitt (mid-distance, jumps), Megan Lynch (pole vault), Kim Thrasher (pole vault), Becca Moscato (jumps) and Jazmyn Menzies (jumps) all had strong indoor seasons and are back this spring.
“We think we have a good balance around the track and in the field,” Lownds said. “(The championship is) up for grabs. I told the girls if we want to win the league we probably have to go undefeated.”
Both the boys and girls races could be incredibly tight, according to both coaches. Their first NVL meet is Tuesday against Naugatuck, Sacred Heart and Wolcott, which means the coaches are scrambling to figure out their first lineups.
“Nobody’s really run anywhere yet so it’s driving some of us coaches crazy,” Shea said. “The chess match that goes to planning a meet isn’t there yet. Every event counts, every point counts. A lot can happen in 18 events. Naugy will be a huge test, and every week gets a little bigger.”