By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knight outdoor track and field team placed in the top 20 at the class meet and advanced a pair of athletes to the state open. Southington coach Dan Dachelet said that it was a tough finish for the boys team.
Athletes got sick and injured at the wrong time. Their 4x800m made it to the New England Championship during the indoor season, and this season, they didn’t make the state open.
Granted, a starting leg of the 4x800m was injured, but Dachelet said that he thinks they all had higher expectations of a higher finish at the class meet.
“It just wasn’t what everyone wanted, other than the events that qualified,” said Dachelet. “We did have a couple of personal records, but overall, the expectation was to do a little bit better. We’re peaking for one particular meet, and it’s tough, sometimes, to get everyone up on the right day.”
The state open marked the end of the boys season. Southington finished the regular season at 5-2 overall. Dachelet said that the diversity of talent was the most exciting part about this season.
“We had strong athletes in just about every single group, from field events to running events,” said Dachelet. “We were well-represented at the conference meet, and that was great to see with some top-level athletes.”
The Knights are losing 22 athletes to graduation after this season, including Zachary Burleigh, Cameron Clynes, Jeffrey Hannigan, Conner Leone, Shane Leone, Jake Monson, James Ringrose, and Jack Terray.
JUNE 4—Zachary Burleigh and Jack Terray returned to New Britain High School on Monday to represent Southington in the state open as the lone two Knights to compete at the meet. Southington did not place as a team.
Burleigh finished ninth out of 21 athletes in the pole vault with a height of 13 feet. He was seeded 13th coming into the open.
“He had some good heights in indoor, so I know that his expectations were to equal those marks coming into outdoor,” said Dachelet. “He’s had some ups and downs. The last meet was a step in the right direction for him.”
Although Burleigh’s mark wasn’t better than his seed, Dachelet said that he still thinks Burleigh was happy with his performance.
“When a lot of these guys get to be this good, they’re not satisfied, sometimes, even with personal records,” said Dachelet. “But that’s what drives him to that level. It was good to see him move in that direction. I know that he obviously wanted to get a little higher this meet, but he’s had a great season, and I know that he’s got some big things ahead of him.”
Terray finished 15th out of 21 athletes in the long jump with a mark of 20’4.5”. He was seeded 21st coming into the open.
“He made some huge improvements during the year,” said Dachelet. “The 21-foot jump that he made at the state meet was a big deal. He leaped over a bunch of kids to get there. I don’t think we were expecting him to do that, and I think he’s surprising himself with his capabilities too.”
Dachelet said that Terray will be competing in the decathlon, which is scheduled to be held from Tuesday, June 12 (11 a.m.) to Wednesday, June 13 at Manchester High School.
“He’s got potential to be a collegiate athlete,” said Dachelet. “I wish we would have gotten him involved in some of these events earlier and got him involved in more events a little bit sooner.”
Cameron Clynes was planning to compete in the decathlon, but he will be unable to, due to injury. Dachelet said that Clynes sustained the injury the Saturday before the class meet.
“He had some high expectations for himself,” said Dachelet. “Jack’s come along strong, but Cam’s been prepping for a year for this one particular meet. I know that he was very disappointed, and he’s put a lot of effort in. To have it go bad at the very end of the season is tough.”
Class LL Championship
MAY 30—The Knights entered the second leg of the postseason on Wednesday when they traveled to New Britain High School for the Class LL Championship. They entered the meet with 19 athletes in 17 events and placed 20th out of 24 teams with a pair of medalists.
Southington’s top performance on the track came from Ryan Slesinski, Conner Leone, Jeffrey Hannigan, and Shane Leone in the 4x800m. They took eighth out of 17 relays with a time of 8:19.55.
Southington’s top performance in the field came from Burleigh. He advanced to the state open by finishing third out of 18 athletes in the pole vault with a height of 13’6”, which was a season best for him. Terray advanced to the state open by finishing fifth out of 23 athletes in the long jump with a mark of 21 feet, which was also a season best.
Other top-ten finishes included Slesinski in the 800m (9th) and Trevor Porter, James Ringrose, Joseph Verderame, and Slesinski in the 4x400m (10th).
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.