Darien girls track team attempts to build off dominant winter
Coming off of a first-place finish in the FCIAC championships and a runner-up placement in the Class L state championships in 2012, the Darien High School girls track and field team appears poised to make another run at both championships again this spring.
The Blue Wave went 11-0 in the regular campaign before beating out Greenwich for the conference crown and coming in second to Windsor in the state meet.
Darien won the Class L and State Open championships in the winter season, and coach Steve Norris expects other schools to focus on his team. Based on the indoor results, Norris believes his team will be able to overcome Windsor this spring.
"Virtually all of the people who did well in the winter are back on the spring team," Norris said. "We have a good chance of going through the dual meet season undefeated. We'll surely be a strong favorite to be the league champion."
The Blue Wave team members certainly have plenty of confidence coming off a winter campaign capped by a class title and the open crown.
"We really want to continue that into outdoor and see what we can do," said senior captain Grace Loh, who runs the 800 and 1,600.
Gone to graduation are three-season distance runners McKinley Stauffer, Meredith Ott, Sherry Gilronan and Katie Gilronan, sprinters Katy Close and Claire Gaffney, pole vaulter Katie Southworth, and throwers Victoria Kominek, Natalie Metz and Lexi Ashburne.
This year's captains are sprinter Liz Heaney, distance runner Grace Loh (indoor Class L 1000 meter champion), middle-distance runner Sophie Long, thrower Taylor McDonald (indoor FCIAC shot-put champion) and jumper/ hurdler Ali McGarey.
Other key team members including the following seniors: Mid-distance runner Caroline Weihs, distance runners Claire Walker, Caity Lowden and Katie Farren, All-FCIAC cross country standouts Sarah Colon and Ellen Bauer, and high jumper Eleanor Smith, who placed in the state meet.
Sophomores include indoor state open 300 meter and 600 champion Anna Sulger, state pole vault champion and FCIAC triple jump champion Maddie Schneider, first team all state cross country runner Anne Johnston, distance runner Elisabeth Lowe, and mid-distance runner/ triple jumper Lindey Holek.
Darien has 10 team members who have achieved first team All-FCIAC status in prior seasons, and Norris expects these and other seasoned returnees to help guide the new athletes on a large squad of 120 girls. The Darien coach is hopeful that, among this large number, there are some throwers who emerge and take some pressure off McDonald.
Darien won 13 of 17 events in the season-opening meet with New Canaan on April 3. Johnston, given that early success, has high expectations.
"It's going to be a good season," the sophomore distance runner said.