By BRIAN JENNINGS
You saw it during the indoor season, and you could very well see it again this outdoor season. Southington coach Connor Green said that the girls team got a taste of being an elite program. It’s no longer about finishing in the top 10. It’s about finishing in the top three.
“They got hungry,” said Green. “They were no longer this team that was at the back end of the conference. It’s only progressed throughout cross county and now with indoor track, having the best year we’ve ever had in the girls program.”
The 4-2 record they had last spring was the best record the girls program has ever had in dual meets, according to Green. This spring, Green said their goal is to go undefeated, and it is a goal that is looking rather attainable with at least 60 athletes from the indoor season coming back for the outdoor season.
“It’s going to be tough, but we definitely have the depth in multiple events,” said Green. “It’s definitely going to be a possibility.”
The Lady Knights finished the 2017 regular season at 4-2 overall (4-0 home, 0-2 away) and 2-2 in the CCC Central Blue Division. In the postseason, they placed third overall at the CCC Central Championship, finishing as runner-up in the Blue Division. They entered the Class LL Championship with 19 athletes in 16 events and advanced two athletes in three events to the state open and New England Championship.
The Knights lost 10 of 66 athletes to graduation after last season. Only two of those 10 athletes qualified for the state meet.
Notable seniors returning to this year’s team include Megan Biscoglio (pole vault), Amanda Brocki (jumps), Allison Brown (sprints, jumps, relays), Abigail Connolly (sprints, jumps, relays), Julia Groll (throws), Amanda Howe (throws), Sarah Minkiewicz (mid-distance), Tayler Riddick (jumps, sprints, relays), and Isabella Scalise (long-distance, relays).
Biscoglio, Brown, Howe, and Riddick were named as team captains for the upcoming season. Riddick is a three-time national qualifier.
Biscoglio won the CCC and state open titles, along with a runner-up mark at the New England Championship. She competed at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet in the pole vault last spring, breaking the school record with a mark of 12 feet.
Green said that if Biscoglio stays consistent, she has the ability to get almost 13 feet this spring. With more meets that she’ll be able to compete in over the weekend now, he said that she’ll be constantly jumping and doing what she loves, and her goal of over 13 feet won’t seem so far away.
“Outdoor is a great season,” said Green. “It’s warm, everyone’s friends, and they’re all part of a team that’s going towards the same end goal, and that’s going to help keep her on track.”
Howe practically owned the discus throw last spring by winning the CCC, Class LL, state open, and New England titles, breaking the school record at the regional meet with a mark of 144’8”. She also won the conference title in the shot put and competed at the New England Championship in the event.
Green said that he would be surprised if Howe didn’t get over 44 feet in the shot put this spring. He said that the biggest difference for her is the fact that she’s going to compete in two events on the same day instead of competing in one event.
“It’s not like she’s going to be waiting around all day to throw,” said Green. “She’ll be able to stay looser throughout the season.”
At the last year’s New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet, Howe won the hammer throw emerging elite title and broke the school record in the hammer throw championship with a mark of 154’7”. She also competed in the discus throw emerging elite and championship.
Green said that Howe’s goal is to get the state record of 149 feet in the discus throw. He said that there aren’t any returners in the state that are within 30 feet of Howe.
“She’s just comfortable with it,” said Green. “This is her bread-and-butter event. She just has the ability to stay tall and controlled all the way through it, while being able to really keep her speed up.”
Notable juniors returning include Kate Kemnitz (mid-distance, distance, relays), Gabriella Mondo (throws, jumps), Samantha Przybylski (sprints, relays), Alijah Vega (throws, jumps), and Natalie Verderame (sprints, relays). Green said that Vega is the 10th returning javelin thrower in the state.
Notable sophomores returning include Trinity Cardillo (throws), Sydney Garrison (jumps), and Anny Moquete (mid-distance, relays).
All notable returners competed at last year’s state meet. Biscoglio, Howe, Vega, and Garrison were all-conference last year. Biscoglio and Howe were also all-state.
With all of the team’s all-state and all-conference athletes returning to the field events, there’s very little doubt that the team’s strength will come from the field events. Green said that they’re trying to build up the hurdles, but he also said that the team will be well-balanced.
Green said that it won’t be a matter of more girls in “X” events. It’s going to be the quality of the events that matters most, and he said that the relays are probably going to be the team’s biggest area this spring.
“In order to be a legitimate Class LL contender, we need to have relays that can compete at that level as well,” said Green. “Depth is great, but we also need to have a relay in each area that can step up and get points.”
Following a realignment of the CCC, Southington is now in the West Colonial Division along with Conard, Hall, and NW Catholic. The West Patriot Division consists of Avon, Farmington, Glastonbury, and Simsbury.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at email@example.com.