By BRIAN JENNINGS
Not only do they have at least one male and female athlete qualified in every event for the CCC Championship, but they also have at least one athlete or relay in every event for the Class LL meet, except the girls 55m hurdles.
It’s something that Southington coach Connor Green said he wasn’t sure the program had ever accomplished before. At the very least, it hasn’t happened in a long time.
“For the first couple years, our goal was to finish in the top 15 in the conference and get as many kids qualified as possible, more about making sure they were enjoying themselves and progressing properly,” said Green. “But now, we’re at the point where they realize their potential for high-level performances. Not only can they score at the meet, but they can win events.”
One example of the program’s progression is the girls 4x200m relay. When Green first came into the program, the relay was just trying to break two minutes. In four years, the relay has gone from two minutes to 1:50. Since last season, they’ve broken the school record five times.
Green said that the relays have really come on strong this season and have been able to drop a lot of time over the years because they are starting to bye in.
“We have a lot of talented kids, and sometimes for individual events, they have the ability to maybe place in the top 10, but maybe not win it,” said Green. “But when you get three or four of those kids and put them on a relay together, they then buy into each other’s experiences and really start to understand that they can win an event.”
The Knights are at the point now where the program is comfortable performing at higher levels. It just comes down to the athletes being able to replicate those results on meet day, and they’re really starting to.
Green credits the athletes realizing that they have the potential to bring the program to a new level of competition. What started as having a couple of individuals that scored points and place in the top 10 at the conference and state meets has now turned into the potential for the boys and girls teams to place in the top five at the conference and state meets.
“This is what Dan (Dachelet) and I have been working for since we started here…bring Southington back to the top tier of, not just of our conference, but of our state,” said Green. “It’s just been us as a team and a coaching staff continuing that method and line of thought where we belong up here. So, let’s get used to that mentality and mindset.”
Southington traveled to the historical Coxe Cage at Yale University in New Haven for the 36th annual Yale Interscholastic Track Classic, which was held from Friday, Jan. 19 to Saturday, Jan. 20. The Knights broke eight school records total at the meet, setting six of those eight records on day one. Five of those records came from relays.
“The track itself is known to produce fast times,” said Green. “The bank track really, obviously helps. But I think that another thing is that we’ve just been really working extremely hard in practice.”
Amanda Howe led the Knights on Friday, outmuscling 17 other competitors to win the weight throw with a distance of 53’2”. Howe broke her own school record of 50’3.5” that she set earlier this season. The next closest thrower was Annika Kelly (51’) of Barrington.
The following male relays broke school records on Friday: Jeffrey Hannigan, Porter, Rodriguez, and Joseph Verderame with a fourth-place finish in the 4x400m (3:34.35); Ryan Slesinski, Teagan Duffy, Shane Leone, and Conner Leone with a sixth-place finish in the distance medley (11:16.12); and Jack Terray, Elijah Rodriguez, Trevor Porter, and Kolby Rogers in the 4x200m (1:35.03).
The following female relays broke school records on Friday: Tayler Riddick, Abby Connolly, Samantha Przybylski, and Natalie Verderame in the 4x200m (1:50.97); and Kate Kemnitz, Allie Brown, Meghan Sheline, and Natalie Verderame in the 4x400m (4:19.98).
Brooke Lynch, Kailey Schmarr, Anny Moquete, and Lauren Verrilli qualified for the state meet in the 4x800m (10:41.03), and Brown also improved her state time in the 300m (45.17).
Saturday brought much success to Southington as well. Not only did Rodriguez improve his state mark for the third time this season with a third-place finish in the semifinals of the 55m hurdles, but he broke Chris Kelly’s 2008-09 school record of 7.81 with a time of 7.79. Kemnitz returned to break her own school record of 2:31.09 in the 800m that she set last season with a time of 2:29.16.
Howe also returned with another first-place throw, beating out Sarah Mitchell (37’7.5”) of Prout School by over two feet to take the title in the shot put with a distance of 40’2.75”. Megan Biscoglio (12’) finished as runner-up to Alana Carroll (13’) of Averill Park in the pole vault, coming within an inch of her season and personal best.
Terray just hit the cut line for the state meet in the 55m dash (7.04), and William Downes improved his state time (6.95) in the same event. Zach Burleigh tied his season and personal best of 13’6” with a third-place finish in the pole vault.
The Knights will wrap up the regular season this week when they send their pole vaulters to the Glastonbury Indoor Meet on Thursday, Jan. 25. They will enter the postseason on Saturday, Jan. 27 when they return to Hillhouse High School in New Haven for the fifth time this season for the CCC Championship. The conference meet is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/01/23/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-jan-26-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.