BEACON FALLS — Woodland has established itself as one of the top indoor track programs in the state, and both the girls and boys teams are preparing for another run at conference titles this winter.
Last season, the Hawks captured their fifth straight Naugatuck Valley League girls indoor track title, while the boys finished second in the league.
The girls team will be guided by seniors Sam Plasky, Erin Machado, Gianna Polletta, Jordan Williams, Gillian Hotchkiss, Bethanie Banks and Steph McClean. Plasky, Polletta and Williams had impact performances at the NVL championship last season.
Plasky was second at the NVLs in the pole vault, and also specializes in the sprint events. Williams was third in the 55 hurdles, while Polletta took fifth in the long jump and was a part of the 4×400 first-place winning team.
Hotchkiss will compete in the sprints and relays, while Banks and McClean will both specialize in the shot put.
“We have a nice mix of returning athletes and we have a core of freshmen and sophomores that are working hard and fitting in with our program,” said girls head coach Jeff Lownds, now in his 16th season at Woodland. “We want to have continued success in both the NVL and in Class M.”
The junior class features Emilie Noreika (pole vault and long distance), Alli Cianciolo (jumps and hurdles), Amanda Bernardo (shot put), Casey Donnelly (hurdles and mid distance), Jessica Fox (long distance), Ivy Geloso (shot put), Christina Hart (shot put), Erika Michie (sprints and relays), Kristen Persico (shot put) and Brianna Vallejo (shot put).
Michie was fifth in the 55 dash and fourth in 300 meters at NVLs last season, while Noreika took third in the pole vault.
The girls team also has a large group of sophomores ready to contribute. The class includes Nia Allen (sprints), Layne Cronin (shot put), Kaitlyn Crosby (hurdles and mid distance), Alanna Drmic, (sprints), Sydney Grillo (mid distance and relays), Andrea Gutierrez (shot put), Grace Parker (sprints), Bridgett Riffe (sprints), Shirley Torres (shot put), Haley Wolfanger (sprints and relays) and Aisha Yusef (sprints).
The team also welcomes freshmen Jade Brennan (sprints), Jill Brotherton (long distance), Eliana Cambrea (sprints), Victoria Gugliotti (sprints), Madison Lisowski (mid distance), Caitlin Marvin (long distance), Emma Slavin (long distance), Maddy Vallillo (sprints) and Sophia Vescera (sprints).
The boys team has a new coach this year, as Bill Ferrare replaces Tim Shea.
“First and foremost, I am excited to have the opportunity to coach at Woodland, and I’d like to thank the athletic department and administration for extending me the opportunity,” said Ferrare, who most recently coached at the collegiate level. “I look forward to working with these student athletes and it’s an honor to be part of a highly competitive and well-respected program.”
Among the seniors returning for the boys are Cedric Benoit (mid distance and relays), Mark Crowley (mid distance and pole vault), Matt Giaquinto (long distance), Isiah Miller (hurdles and mid distance), Julio Quintero (pole vault) and Erick Reyes (mid distance).
The junior class includes Jack LaPerriere (sprints and jumps), Matt Luxeder (mid distance and relays), Sean Mardin (jumps and sprints), Matt Mills (sprints and hurdles), Ben Nuss (sprints and shot put, relays), Tom Smith (jumps and sprints, relays), Craig Starkey (pole vault and hurdles), William Tompkins (shot put and sprints and Dante DiRubba (sprints and shot put).
Also expect sophomore Nick Hudson (shot put and sprints) and freshman Bailey Williams (sprints) in the mix to compete.
“After coaching on the collegiate level for the past six years, I am happy to be back in the Naugatuck Valley League, where I spent my first 12 years coaching cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field,” Ferrare said. “Having run competitively in high school and college myself, it is easy to spot talent and commitment when I see it.”
Ferrare added, “It is evident that we have a core group of student athletes who are dedicated to the program and want to give it their all. I am excited for the team to be competitive in the NVL this indoor season.”
The season gets going this weekend as the Hawks will compete at the Reindeer Relays in Wilton.