By KEVIN ROBERTS
Experience is the name of the game this winter for the Southington boys indoor track and field team. The Blue Knights return some firepower from a team that finished fifth out of 23 teams in the CCC.
“We set 3 school records last year in the sprints and the sprint relays, and all of those guys, except one, Jack Terray, are back this year,” coach Connor Green said at the beginning of an outside practice last Thursday. “Eli Rodriguez is one of the top three returning guys in the state in the hurdles. Our 4x200m that ran 1:35 last year will be looking to break that time.”
Losing Terray to graduation is tough. He had a pair of Top 7 finishes in the CCC championship meet in jumping events.
“He was a really good high jumper, long jumper, sprinter for us,” said Green, “so he’ll definitely be missed.”
On the other hand, the Knights return a solid group of experienced veterans. Senior captain Joe Verderame was on the sprint medley last year, along with fellow senior Trevor Porter and junior Johnny Carreiro. Verderame and Porter were also part of the 4x400m relay, along with senior captain Ryan Slesinski. Green expects Slesinski to have a solid season individually in middle distance races with junior Matthew Penna going long distance.
“Ryan Slesinski will be looking to do well in the 600m or the 1000m, and then Matt Penna in the two-mile will be looking pretty good,” Green said. “Then, just a lot of young talent, and we’re looking to see where they end up.”
In the field, Southington returns senior captain Kolby Rogers, a strong jumper.
“Kolby Rogers, he was a 20-foot-plus long jumper, he finished sixth in Class LL,” Green said.
There’s also senior Casey Selinske, who is looking to be a 13-foot pole vaulter. Selinske is joined in the pole vault by sophomore Aiden Chesanow, who fared well in his freshman outdoor season this past spring. They will look to score as many points as they can with the loss of Zach Burleigh to graduation.
Junior Anthony Penta provides a solid complement to Rogers in the triple jump. Green, who is the head coach for the boys (Dan Dachelet for the girls), said he will increase the workout volume as the season moves along.
“Last year, we had a lot of strong athletes, and I think that we tried to get them in as many competitions as we possibly could,” Green said. “This year, we’re going with a little bit of a lower volume focus, to make sure that kids are fresh and ready to go as the season goes on.”
The season starts this weekend with two meets. The varsity and select freshmen head to New Haven for the Hillhouse Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The junior varsity will compete at the Hartford Public Invitational on Saturday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com