Girls Track preview: Lady Knights aim at the postseason

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

He spent the past few years behind the scenes as the assistant coach of Southington’s running programs, but Connor Green will be stepping into the head coaching position to lead the Lady Knight outdoor track and field team for the upcoming season. After spending two years with the girls team, Southington coach Dan Dachelet will be taking over the boys team this season, taking the place of former head coach, Colleen Roarty.

With only a few returning seniors, a lot of the strength of the girls team lies within the juniors and sophomores. However, there is plenty of returning depth in distance, sprints, jumps, and throws.

“We are led by four very strong captains, that all have had plenty of experience at the state and national level,” said Green. “We did lose some very strong athletes last year, that helped lead the ladies to one of the top finishes in school history at state level, but after this past indoor season, I am very confident in the fact that this team will be continuing its trajectory upward.”

With at least one girl in every grade that competed on the conference, state, or national level during the cross country, indoor, or outdoor seasons, the team’s experience will serve them as one of their greatest assets.

“We have experienced athletes and a solid group of newcomers,” said Green. “I see this team being very strong with more depth than we had last season in certain events.”

Finding the most suitable events for each athlete on the team comes as really the only concern Green is worried about entering the season.

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“We had athletes competing in the hurdles, for example, and found some success, but then we moved them to a different event,” said Green. “They took off and scored a lot of points for us, but it’s about finding which event is best for the athlete’s particular skill set.”

The team’s primary goal for the upcoming season never changes. The Knights will be looking to better the team’s finish at the conference and state meets and qualify as many athletes as possible for each meet, as well as continue to develop a tradition of excellence at Southington.

“We will be facing some very talented teams in the CCC and Class LL,” said Green. “I can’t wait to see how the team responds to the upcoming challenges and look forward to this season.”

Dachelet coached the girls team to a fourth-place finish out of 10 teams at the CCC championship at Simsbury High School. Glastonbury took home the conference title.

The girls team then finished ninth out of 25 schools at the Class LL championship at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, qualifying 19 athletes for 14 events. Seven athletes advanced to the state open to compete in five events where the Lady Knights took 17th out of 64 teams. Ridgefield claimed the Class LL title, and Bloomfield the state open title.

The girls team lost 16 athletes to graduation after last season, including Kelsea Allen, Erin Angelillo, Gabrielle Napoli, Lauren Perkowski, Jami Pliego, and Kali Pliego. All competed at the state meet.

Napoli (1600m/3200m/4x800m relay) and Angelillo (3200m/4x800m relay) received all-conference honors, ran as legs in the 4x800m relay at the state open, and competed in the 2000m steeplechase. Napoli finished 18th in the 3200m at the state open.

Perkowski also ran as a leg in the 4x800m relay at the state open and competed in the 2000m steeplechase. Allen was the lone female athlete to represent the Lady Knights in the heptathlon.

Seniors Catherine Myers and Rylee Van Epps, and juniors Amanda Howe and Tayler Riddick have been chosen to lead the Lady Knights this season as the team captains.

Myers has been leading the girls running program at Southington since the cross country season this past fall. Her best finish during last year’s outdoor season came at the Irv Black Invitational when she finished sixth in the 2000m steeplechase. Myers will pace the girls team as a distance runner this season.

As a state qualifier of the 4x100m relay and national qualifier of the 1600m sprint medley relay, Van Epps has been a top performer since her freshman year and currently holds multiple school records from the indoor and outdoor seasons. She will compete in the sprints and relays this season.

Howe is coming off one of her best seasons yet as a high school athlete after placing 15th in the shot put at the New England championship this past indoor season. Last year’s outdoor season wasn’t that much different.

Howe threw for third in the discus throw and ninth in the shot put at the last year’s outdoor New England championship. She also took third in the hammer throw at the CIAC hammer championship. Howe will look to continue her reign as one of the top throwers in the state when she competes in the shot put, discus throw, and hammer throw this season.

Riddick dealt with injuries during her sophomore year, but that didn’t stop her from being a top athlete on the girls team. Dawning personal bests of 15’7” in the long jump and 31’2” in the triple jump, she has taken off with her training and performances this year. Look for Riddick to help lead the girls team in the sprints and jumps this season.

Other key returners include senior Marisa Mathews (distance); juniors Megan Biscoglio (pole vault/jumps/hurdles), Allison Brown (high jump/jumps), Abigail Connolly (sprints), Sarah Minkiewicz (distance), and Isabella Scalise (distance); and sophomores Katelyn Kemnitz (distance), Alijah Vega (throws), and Natalie Verderame (sprints). All competed at the state meet.

Like Howe, Biscoglio was also top three in the state and a national qualifier in her respective event (pole vault) during the indoor season.

For weekly box scores and daily results, visit us throughout the week at www.SouthingtonObserver.com. Search “scoreboard.”

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