By BRIAN JENNINGS
The girl’s cross country team is coming off of a stellar 2014 season with a record of 11-3 (11-3 in the CCC West). The team finished fifth overall (second in the West Division) at the CCC Championship Meet, finishing four in the top 50. At the Class LL State Meet, the team finished eighth overall out of 21 schools, finishing three in the top 50.
Key losses of the team include Amada Hamel, Katherine Mellitt, and Megan Albert. Hamel had the team’s third-best time at the state meet, while Mellitt and Albert had the fourth and fifth-best times at the conference meet. Mellitt also led the Knights to a 13th-place finish in the 800m run at the state meet during the outdoor track and field season.
Seniors Gabi Napoli and Lauren Perkowski were voted by their teammates to be the team captains of the 2015 season.
Napoli had the team’s second-best time at the conference meet, finishing in 24th (sixth in West Division). As she crossed the finish line, Napoli suffered a season-ending injury that would not allow her to run in the state meet. Since then, Napoli has battled and fought her way back to the top of the ranks again.
During the spring, Napoli led the Knights at the 2014 Class LL Track and Field State Meet in the 1600m run, finishing in sixth out of 32 athletes. She is eager and determined to get back to the conference meet and continue on to run at the state meet.
In her high school career, Napoli has ran in 25 races and has an average pace of 7:17, runner her most races during her sophomore year (9 races).
Perkowski (21:22.99) led the way at the conference meet with a 20th-place finish (fifth in the West Division) out of 164 runners. She also had the team’s second-best time (21:46) at the state meet, finishing in 42nd. During the spring, Perkowski led the outdoor track and field team in the 3200m run at the state meet.
In her high school career, Perkowski has 30 races under her belt, with an average pace of 7:00, running in her most races during her junior year (12 races).
“They [Napoli and Perkowski] are unassuming young girls and they’ll represent the school well,” said Dachelet. “They have obviously been frontrunners for the last couple years, and both are coming off of great track seasons with personal records. They live and breathe running, like a lot of these girls on the team. They lead by example and know the other athletes in the sport. This is what they talk about. That’s the kind of role models you want for the younger kids.”
Although she is not a team captain, Junior Catherine Myers is definitely a leader on the team and is returning to the varsity lineup with experience and a whole lot of potential.
“She [Catherine] is probably the most consistent varsity runner that we’ve had,” said Dachelet. “I can’t think of the last time she’s had a bad race. I think her training over the last summer has been fantastic. Her work ethic leads by example.”
Myers (21:38.00) had the team’s third-best time at the conference meet, finishing in 28th (ninth in West Division). She went on to lead the Knights at the state meet with a 37th-place finish (21:33) out of 146 runners. She also qualified for the 3200m run at the outdoor track and field state meet, finishing behind Perkowski.
In her high school career, she has competed in 23 races and has an average pace of 7:04, running most of her races during her sophomore year (12 races).
Sophomore Sarah Minkiewicz had a big role to fill during the winter season, when she stepped in to fill the starting point guard position on the Lady Knights basketball team, but she is also stepping in as one of the key returning varsity runners. Minkiewicz had the team’s fifth-best time (22:40.47) at the conference meet and also had the fourth-best time (22:02) at the state meet.
During her freshman year, Minkiewicz ran in a total of 11 races and had an average pace of 7:07.
The big additions to this year’s team are sophomore soccer player, Isabella Scalise, just missing the conference meet in the mile as a standout in track in field. Sophomore Laini Pizzitola is another soccer player, who has really put the work in.
Junior Carson Stifel ran mostly on varsity last year, recording the team’s sixth-best time (23:01.26) at the conference meet and the sixth-best time (23:28) at the state meet. Another junior, Marisa Matthews, comes to the team as a talented swimmer with plenty of athleticism, finishing third in the two-mile time trial.
Other key returners that will look to contribute to the varsity lineup of the includes seniors Payton Chiaro, Hannah Comparone, Ashley Nafis, Jami Pliego, Kali Pliego, Samantha Schiffer and Gabriella Zuc; juniors, Kim Stafco, and Abi Asklar; sophomores Cicily Balachandar, Kayleigh Carmichall, Jessica Gesnaldo, Taylor Harton, Amanda Howe, Ashley Kane, Kelly Koba, Tayler Riddick, and Anna Shugrue.
Jami Pliego was the only Knight to qualify for the 400m dash at the outdoor track and field state meet. Napoli, Perkowski, and Jami Pliego played vital roles to helping the Knights achieve a fifth-place finish in the 4x800m relay, qualifying for the open.
After the major realignment of the Central Connecticut Conference was announced in October of last year, the boy’s cross country divisions were reconstructed to the North, Central, and South Regions, a Blue and White Division within the regions. Southington is in the Blue Division of the Central Region, along with Conard, Hall, Glastonbury, and Simsbury. The White Division of the Central Region features Avon, Bulkeley, Farmington, Northwest Catholic, Weaver, and Windsor.
The Blue Division of the North Region contains East Catholic, East Hartford, Hartford Public, South Windsor, and Manchester, while the White Division contains Bloomfield, E.O. Smith, Fermi, RHAM, Rockville, and Tolland.
The Blue Division of the South Region includes Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, New Britain, Newington, and Wethersfield, while the White Division includes Berlin, Maloney, Middletown, Plainville, Platt, and Rocky Hill.