By John Goralski
Can it really be this easy? Are the Knights ready to rest on their laurels? Those are the very questions that Matt Shea is trying to caution against.
With a 20-point victory over Hall, the Knights have raced out to a 2-0 record against a pair of good programs. Both wins came by double digits. Both were dominated by the Knights in the field.
That’s what scares Shea as he tries to point his team toward a conference title. He worries that the only thing that could derail this team is complacency.
Their track team has been a good test for us every year, and it can dictate our season. I was very, very pleased with our efforts.
“I’m happy about the wins,” said the coach, “but we need to get better on the track, and our kids know that. Our times aren’t quite there yet. We’re winning, but we’re not at that elite level that we’ll need to win the conference.”
On the other hand, the Knights are quickly becoming the team to beat. On April 9, they surged past Hall, 85-65, with victories in 11 of the 18 events. Once again, Southington athletes dominated the field events with seven victories in seven events, including a sweep in shot put.
Hall posed problems for the Knights on the track, but the field athletes responded.
“Coach [Mike] Drury is really working them hard, and it’s showing,” said Shea. “Their distances are going up almost every day, and our throwers did really well to take the meet.”
Matt Bennett (45’0”) edged Travis Daly in the shot put, but Daly (109’1”) returned the favor in the discus. Daly leapfrogged over his teammate Nick Spitz to win javelin (118’2”) as the Knights seem to be competing among themselves.
“Nick Spitz won the javelin last week against NW Catholic, and he got beat by two of his teammates this week,” said Shea. “That’s just the kind of team we have this year. Having depth in throws is nice. We have a lot of in-team competition. Matt Bennett and Travis Daly are battling in the shot put. In the high jump, we have Jarrid Grimmett and Corbin Garry battling it out. It’s nice to see.”
Once again, Corbin Garry swept the jumps with wins in the long jump (20’4.75”), the triple jump (39’0.75”), and the high jump (5’8”), but he continues to get pushed by teammates. He edged two in the long jump, one in the triple,and another in the high jump.
The only questions, if any, came on the track where Hall scored victories in all but four races, but that was the scouting report going in. Hall has a strong distance core and good sprinters, but the Knights still managed to beat them in critical races.
Stephen Barmore set a blistering pace to win the 100m (10.85) and claimed the 200m (22.7) by more than two lengths. Nick Garcia beat all but one of Hall’s distance core in the two-mile race. Charles Morelli edged his teammate to claim the 100m hurdles, while Mike Sullivan set the pace in the 300m hurdle race.
“Sullivan is closing in on states in the hurdles, and we haven’t had a 300m hurdler at states since Chris Kelly [in 2009],” said Shea. “In this conference, we need our track guys to come out and get what they can on the track. Then, we’ll let our field guys take over.