By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Knights indoor track and field varsity squad raised the curtain on their season by getting an introductory glimpse of some of the best talent around the state at the 14th annual Hillhouse Invitational in New Haven on Saturday, Dec. 19.
Southington qualified four individuals and one relay team for the Class LL State Meet.
The Knights entered about 100 athletes into some sort of competition on Saturday with about 50 varsity athletes competing at the Hillhouse Invitational and about 50 junior varsity (JV) athletes competing at the Hartford Public Opener.
“From what I saw in the results, the Hartford Public group did great,” said Southington assistant coach Connor Green, who was coaching the varsity team at Hillhouse while head coach Dan Dachelet was coaching the JV team at Hartford Public. “For a lot of them it was their very first meet ever—not just their first meet of the season. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start from the Hillhouse group. As far last year goes, the end of the season time was when we were qualifying for states. The fact that we’re already there for some of these kids made me very happy.”
Amanda Howe picked up right where she left off from at the close of the spring season in the shot put, placing second (35-02.50) out of 95 throwers. Howe muscled the girls team to a 16th-place finish out of 26 schools.
“The amount of work that Amanda put in during the summer, this preseason, and the amount that she continues to put in, has just been phenomenal,” said Green. “The fact that it’s the first meet, she’s only going to throw further and further as the season goes on.”
Howe eclipsed her seeded distance of 32 feet by over three feet, beating her indoor personal best by almost six feet.
Erin Angelillo returned to the track for the first time since this the outdoor track and field season. Coming off of a soccer-related injury this past fall, Angelillo didn’t show any signs of slowing in the 1600. She placed 19th (5:49.21) and qualified for the state meet.
“Prior to the season, her training hasn’t been as in-depth as it has before,” said Green. “But, I think the fact that she qualified for states in her first race shows that she’s still very much a competitor at very much a high level.”
Taylor Hubert trailed about four seconds behind Angelillo in 24th (5:52.90), just missing qualification for the state meet in her first attempt running the mile indoors, but still managed to qualify for the conference meet.
Freshman Natalie Verderame placed in the top 25 in the 300m, finishing in 21st (46.0) to qualify for the state meet. The girls 4x200m relay team of Emily Maciejewski, Rylee Van Epps, Kelsea Allen, and Verderame placed in 22nd (2:00.64) out of 64 relay teams, just missing qualification for the state meet by 0.64 seconds.
Megan Biscoglio landed in a tie for ninth (7’6”) in the pole vault, which qualified her for the conference meet.
“She’s another one, who has put in a ridiculous amount of work over the summer,” said Green. “She went to pole vaulting camps and Skyjumpers in Franklin. She’s going to be another star for our team.”
Skyjumpers Connecticut is a pole vault club in North Franklin that is run by Norwich Free Academy-East Lyme High School coach Russ Versteeg.
The boys team may not have placed in the top 31 schools after being scored out of 14 events, but one event that held promise for the boys team was the 300m. Adam Dorau was a big reason, qualifying for the state meet in the 300m by 36 tenths of a second, finishing 19th (39.14) out of 106 runners.
Dorau later went on to aid teammates Tyler Cyr, Casey Selinske, and Austin Baumann with a 23rd plce finish (1:43.1) in the 4x200m relay to qualify for the state meet.
“I think we did a good job, before the season, of figuring out what our strengths were,” said Green. “That gave us a little edge going into the season because that gave us the ability to put them in proper groups. For the first couple weeks, my biggest concern has been running mechanics. As far as the couple weeks that we’ve been doing, everyone has been absolutely improving, in terms of their running mechanics. It’s been very good to see. It’s not the same struggles that I’ve seen in the past. I’m very impressed with our entire team’s ability to get focused and put in some hard work.”
Southington will try to build on their early momentum on Saturday at the Hartford Public Developmental Meet in Hartford.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.
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