Preview: girls track
Published 1:01 am, Thursday, April 15, 2010
With 147 girls within the program, the saying "security in numbers" might very well be an understatement in regard to the Darien girls track and field team. With a roster as talented as it is boundless with depth, the Blue Wave charges into the spring season as strong favorites to capture its third consecutive Class L crown.
"Our most significant asset may be the fact that we have 147 girls on the team this season," head coach Steve Norris said. "We have at least 10 girls committed to each of the thirteen individual events. There are enough experienced athletes in each event to allow learning to proceed without the continual presence of a coach."
While there is an abundance of remaining talent, the program did lose some pivotal performers to graduation. Gone from last season are standouts such as Caroline McDonough, the state open and New England champion in the 3,200. In addition, the team lost respective event champions Grace Doering (high jump), Meg Gilbert (long jump) and Kristin Long (pole vault) to the hands of time, with each standout moving on to college.
For a program that once again claimed top state honors while finishing second to only Danbury in the FCIAC, there appears to be little if any weakness in the overall makeup of this year's squad.
"Our short relays are solid, we have dominant performers in the 100 hurdles, and in the distance events, we may lack a superstar, but we will still out-score most teams there," Norris said.
Fresh off a fourth place mark in the 1,600 at the FCIAC indoors, co-captain Kelly Brophy returns as one of the strongest distance runners in the league. Co-captain Sam Simon will brandish her skills in the 400 event, where she placed sixth overall in both the 2009 FCIAC and the CIAC Class L competitions.
Teammate Christy Gasparino -- also a captain -- finished second-to-none in the CIAC Open high jump event and will look to continue her dominance this spring. In sprint events, fellow captain Meredith Jordan figures to be in the top handful of competitors once again, as the talented runner placed fifth in the CIAC Class L 55 meter event. In the hammer throw, captain Amy Rich returns to the outdoors having earned a second-place mark in the CIAC event.
The talent-laden senior class extends well past the several captains on hand.
Hannah Lyons returns to compete in the distance events, while classmates Meg Murphy will both long jump and sprint this season. The pole vault event will be further solidified by the presence of Elizabeth Crafford (first-team FCIAC) and Lee Bolton, who will both test their mettle in the 400 event as well this spring.
Fellow seniors Amanda Dobler and Megan Keane will hold down prominent spots in the distance events, while Sarah Dailey (high jump) and Charlotte Phillips (pole vault, sprint, long jump) each figure to play key roles for the Blue Wave.
For as much strength that the senior class possesses, the impact of the underclassmen cannot be understated. Sophomore Robin Bone returns to the fold, fresh off a CIAC state open vault championship. Bone will look to defend and perhaps best her state record mark of 12'1" this season. Fellow underclassmen Leslie Yuen (distance), Natalie Metz (discus, shot put), Katie Donovan (400) and Victoria Kominek (javelin) help to round out the boundless numbers that Norris has at the helm of the Blue Wave program.
Norris also credited his deep and experienced coaching staff with getting the optimal effort and performance out of his athletes. The staff includes distance coach Kate O'Hern, sprint coach Ella Long, vault coach Glenn Crafford and throwing coaches Ben Bartol and Patty Leasure.
With all this athletic and coaching talent on hand, Norris envisions an outstanding spring campaign for his group.
"We're strong favorites to win the FCIAC Eastern Division Championship this season," he said. "In the FCIAC championship, it may be a reach with Danbury being the CIAC state open indoor champion. Staples is tough as well, and we will be pressed by them this season."
Fresh off consecutive crowns within the Class L competition, Norris sees a repeat performance well within the sights of his squad.
"We won the Class L last year and we have a good shot once again this year. We'll have to beat strong teams such as Hillhouse and Weaver, but I think we can do it."