By BRIAN JENNINGS
After spending two years as head coach with the Lady Knight outdoor track and field team, Southington coach Dan Dachelet is switching gears and heading to the boys’ side to take the place of former coach, Colleen Roarty, for the upcoming season.
Dachelet is wasting no time with the transition. Having a successful season will start as early as the first practices, which will be key to the team’s outcome for the season.
“As a coaching staff, we need to take a long hard look into talent identification,” said Dachelet. “We need to get this very athletic group quickly into the specialty events, so that they can be ready for the conference and state meets.”
Every season, it seems as though the track and field teams at Southington keep growing with interest. Last season, the boys team held about 95 athletes on its roster. This season’s roster should look to have even more, but do more athletes necessarily mean more interest in the sport?
For more than half of the this year’s team, track and field won’t be their primary sport. Instead of just using track and field as a way to stay in shape between seasons, Dachelet and his staff are trying to create a culture and identity as a program.
“We need to be setting team and individual goals and growing the technical expertise of the athletes from year to year, so that they also self-identify,” said Dachelet. “Once we create that, I think we’ll be able to look towards going head to head in this very tough conference.”
Improving the culture of the squad will be the boys team’s greatest focus as a staff. Getting larger groups involved in the specialty events and teaching the fundamentals of these events with the purpose of developing a large core of knowledge is one way Dachelet plans to attack this area of concern.
“This may not pay off for us this year, but it will have a lasting effect on the future of the program,” said Dachelet. “As well, we’re going to be more goal-oriented and celebrate the successes of everyone, not just the point scorers. A personal record for the new sprinter is just as important and rewarding as one for a varsity two-miler at the state meet.”
The program developed new athletes in the 400m and jumping events this past indoor season, with four athletes reaching over 20 feet, and will look to carry that breakthrough into the outdoor season. The boys team also plans to identify and grow talent in areas that were somewhat of an afterthought in past years.
“We won’t neglect the other events,” said Dachelet. “But we’ll just have more of a balance.”
Other than focusing on more events, the Knights improved their strength and placed a greater emphasis on the weight room.
“For some, this is old hat coming from other sports,” said Dachelet. “They will be doing Olympic lifting. The others that are new to the weight room will be learning proper technique, so they can continue to grow in that area.”
Under Roarty in last year’s postseason, the boys team placed seventh out of 11 teams at the CCC championship at Simsbury High School. Glastonbury took home the conference title.
Danbury claimed the Class LL title, and Wethersfield the state open title. The Knights did not place as a team at the Class LL championship at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, but they still managed to qualify 17 athletes in nine events.
The boys team lost nine athletes to graduation after last season, including Adam Dorau, Sean Garrison, and David McCormick. All three competed at the state meet. Garrison was Southington’s lone male athlete to represent the boys team at the state open, finishing 26th in the 3200m. He also competed in the 3000m steeplechase.
Seniors Cameron Coulombe, Michael Mauro, Jordan McMeans, and Michael Steminsky were chosen to lead the boys team as the team captains for the upcoming season.
Coulombe competed in the 200m, 400m, and 4x400m relay at the conference meet, finishing eighth in the 400m. He will be adding the 800m to his list of events. Mauro competed in the 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, and 4x400m relay at the conference meet, finishing eighth in the finals of the 110m hurdles. Look for him to remain in the 110m and 300m hurdles after improving in 300m hurdles to become one of the team’s top scorers in the event.
A dedicated athlete that’s gone the extra mile over the years to help grow Southington’s running program, as well as his talent, McMeans competed in the 3200m at the conference meet and 4x800m relay at the state meet. He also competed in the 2000m steeplechase. He will compete as a distance runner in the 1600m and 3200m this season.
As a great leader for the throwing groups, Steminsky was the strong arm for the boys team last year, finishing eighth in the shot put at the conference meet. He is coming off an injury, but will be back in the field in the shot put and discus throw this season, looking to be in the mix by the end of the year.
Other key returning seniors include Tyson Harris (400m/long jump/triple jump), Anthony Mondo (long jump/triple jump), Mark Murdy (1600m/3200m), David Pastor (shot put/discus throw), and Vance Upham (100m). Murdy and Pastor competed at the state meet.
Key returning juniors include Zachary Burleigh (pole vault), Jeffrey Hannigan (triple jump/800m/high jump), Conner Leone (1600m/3200m), and Shane Leone (800m/1600m). Burleigh, Hannigan, and Shane Leone competed at the state meet.
Junior Jacob Monson was Southington’s only all-conference athlete on the boys side last year after finishing as runner-up in the discus throw at the conference meet, but will not be returning to the team this season, due to an injury.
For weekly box scores and daily results, visit us throughout the week at www.SouthingtonObserver.com. Search “scoreboard.”