Boys Indoor Track preview: Knights are ready to take off

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

Although the boys team wasn’t able to score any points at last year’s state meet, Southington coach Connor Green said that they’re shooting for a top-10 position this season. In order to reach that goal, Green said that it’s going to take more than just top finishes in a couple events.

“Depth is going to be needed,” said Green. “We need to spread out across multiple events and relays. I think that right now, we’re set up for that.”

The boys team placed 13th at the last year’s CCC championship, advancing 12 athletes in 8 events to the Class LL championship. They lost four of those 12 athletes to graduation after last season, dropping a total of 11 athletes to graduation.

“I thought we were a good team last year,” said Green. “We had some pretty good individuals, but we have a sophomore class now that is very experienced.”

A lot of Southington’s male state qualifiers at last year’s state meet were sophomores. Coming in as juniors this season, they’ve set some very high goals.

Key returners from that junior class that competed at last year’s state meet include Ian Agnew (relays, jumps), Elijah Rodriguez (hurdles, sprints, relays), Kolby Rogers (relays, jumps), and Joseph Verderame (sprints, mid-distance, relays).

If there’s anyone that’s going to have a breakout year, Green said that it’s is most likely going to be either Elijah Rodriguez or Kolby Rogers. Rodriguez ended his outdoor season well last spring with a first-place finish in the preliminaries of the 110m hurdles, eventually taking seventh in the finals, and ran a split of 49 seconds as a leg in the 4x400m relay at the CCC Central Region championship.

“One of his biggest issues has been injuries coming out of soccer,” said Green. “He’s pretty healthy right now. He’s working hard, so I think he’s poised for a big season.”

Rogers competed in the long jump and as a leg in the 4x200m relay and 1600m sprint medley at last year’s indoor state meet. He’s coming off of a spring season that includes appearances in the long jump and 4x100m relay at the outdoor state meet.

“Kolby Rogers has just been an absolute animal,” said Green. “Whenever we do testing or anything like that, he destroys the numbers that he previously put up. He’s primed and ready for an awesome season.”

The boys team doesn’t just have an experienced junior class coming into this season though. They boast a stout senior class of athletes as well that have the potential to be substantial scorers this season, especially in the postseason.

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Key returning seniors include Zachary Burleigh (pole vault), Teagan Duffy (relays, mid-distance), Jeffrey Hannigan (relays, mid-distance), Conner Leone (distance), and Shane Leone (relays). Burleigh, Duffy, Hannigan, and Leone competed at last year’s indoor state meet.

Burleigh’s best height last winter was 11-feet-6-inches, but he is coming off of an all-conference spring season where he placed fourth in pole vault at the state meet and equaled his season high of 13 feet with a 10th-place finish at the state open. Green said that as of right now, based on this past outdoor track and field season, Burleigh is the third-best returner in pole vault in the state.

“I think Zach Burleigh is probably going to be our closest chance to a Class LL state title,” said Green. “He set some pretty lofty goals and wants to get above 14 feet. If there’s anyone that’s dedicated and is going to work for that goal, it’s definitely him.”

The boys team is only losing one leg of the three relays they qualified for the state meet, as the 1600m sprint medley team of Agnew, Rogers, Duffy, and Shane Leone held the highest finish (10th). It’s no surprise that the relays are going to be a strength of the boys team heading into this season.

“We have a lot of pieces coming back that, separately, are good,” said Green. “They definitely have the ability to qualify for the state meet, but when you put them together in a relay fashion, I think that’s where they’re really going to shine. I think the relays are going to be big point scorers for us.”

If there’s any events that Green would like to see more athletes competing in, it’s the 55m dash, high jump, and the shot put.

Burleigh, Hannigan, Duffy, and senior Michael Dorsey (distance) were named as team captains for the upcoming season. After competing with the indoor track and field program as a freshman and sophomore, Dorsey did not compete last winter as a junior.

Green is entering his second year as coach of the boys varsity indoor track and field program.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.

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