The Middletown boys and girls indoor track teams offer different coaching challenges for head coaches Jenn Price and Kelly Ellis. The boy’s squad features 40 members and must try to live up to the high expectations their head coach as placed on them. However there are only 24 girls out for an inexperienced girl’s team that will constantly be a work in progress.
The top girls are senior long jumper Antanisha Outlaw and junior Lauren Hodge, the team’s top long distance runner. Team members who are expected to improve include junior long sprinter Cara Brainard and sophomore shot putter Kaitlyn Strickland.
“This season is about progress for the team,” said Price. “With progress we can look towards the future.”
A small group of boys will be key to their squad’s success. Seniors Logan Reich (runner-up for Class L in the 55 hurdles) and Devonte White (CCC outdoor champion in the shot-put) return to pursue more individual title success. Supporting them will be junior distance runner Nick Chhoeun and sophomores Tim Harvey (jumper) and London Highsmith (sprinter/jumper).
“We have good athletes in most events,” stated Price. “I expect the team to have a very strong showing in the CCC meet and have 5 to 8 boys qualify for states from there.”
Middletown opened at the Hillhouse Invitational in New Haven Friday.
Last year Mercy won the Quinnipiac Division of the Southern Connecticut Conference and placed fourth overall in the SCC. Veteran Head Coach Rob Link believes there is no reason the Tigers cannot improve on that campaign.
“I think we’ll do at least as well as we did last year,” said Link. “We’re we’ll rounded and have a lot of depth.”
Mercy will largely rely on veteran talent to lead the team. Seniors Kathleen Darling (distance), Jenna Grayson (sprints, jumps), and Brie Vess (distance) and junior Catie Oidtman (hurdles, pole vault) are all expected to be to performers. Link expects sophomore Astin Donovan will be one of the top five sprinters in the state when all is said and done.
“If the team performs like it’s capable of, we’ll have a better record than last year and place somewhere around 7th or 8th in the State Open,” stated Link.
We should be good but not great,” said Head Coach Dave Kraszewski. “We’re very strong in the middle distance events and strong in the sprints, but we’re weaker in the throws and in the horizontal jumps.”
Senior tri-captains Dave Pugliese (600, 1000), Russell Stevens (1600, 3200) and Dillon McCarthy (55, sprint relay, long jump) were listed by their coach as keys to Xavier’s success. Long distance runners Mitchell Brown, Peter Strom and Matt Pius, all juniors, will also be important contributors.
“A realistic goal for our team is that we finish in the top 8 of the Class LL and State Open meets,” stated Kraszewski. “Anything beyond that is far exceeding expectations.”
Xavier opened December 19th at the Hillhouse Developmental Meet in New Haven.