The Staples boys outdoor track team prepares to fulfill its quest of duplicating last year's success behind the leadership of senior captains Ben Aldrich, Jeff Caffrey, Sean Gallagher, Raphael Ray and Jack Roche.

Last year, Staples was 16-1 in the regular season, took second in the Western Division, second in the FCIAC championship, sixth Class LL and 19th at State Open.

Replacing Devin Graber, Robert Cross, Paul Chandler, Aaron Kleigman, Eliot Bass, Jon Foster, Sam Zorfas and Mike White, who graduated from last year's team, is a challenge the Wreckers face, especially in throwing and jumping events because that's where they left the biggest gap between last year and this year.

Coach Laddie Lawrence said, "Although we look pretty solid on the track, it is our field events that seems to need strengthening. Graduation hit us especially hard in throwing events. We will need to work hard to reestablish strength in these events."

Back off the injured list, senior Chris Coyne is looking to be the team's strongest thrower. Lawrence believes his presence will have a positive impact, however worries that there is not much depth behind him. "Personally I just want to improve on last year," Coyne said. "Knowing that there's nobody behind me, really puts pressure on me to perform and I know that I won't let the team down."

Other than the lack of throwing personnel, the 69-member team looks strong. Lawrence said, "Up front in most events on the track and in some of the jumps we seem to have some quality." The teams strongest events will be the longer sprints, middle distance and relays.

In addition to the captains and Coyne, the team has many other talented returnees. Kentaro Higuchi, Todd and Eric Lubin, Danny Marriott, and Matt Wormser will be senior contributors. Juniors Giles Bonner, David Haswell, Dean Hefnawy, Jon Heil, Kyle Hoberman, Mikolaj Kulis, Aiden McConnell and sophomores Ethan Bradeen, Colin Davis, Matt Mula and Patrick Nolan are also expected to score points for Staples.

Four newcomers, senior George Birch, junior Max Hoberman, and sophomores Walker Marsh and Henry Wynne join the team this year and they expect to make significant contributions as well.

Danbury, Trumbull, Wilton, New Canaan and Darien are the other competitive teams in the league and they will test the Wreckers during the championship meet. Lawrence said, "Danbury will be the toughest competition. They were indoor state champions with lots of kids returning."

Staples will not be facing New Canaan and Darien during the regular season, because of the new scheduling configuration. Lawrence said, "We don't meet everyone this year with the new schedule. We only compete against schools in our division and a select few more teams. This is a new format for boys track. In the past we would go against everyone in the league."

Lawrence is not in favor of this new schedule and says that he voted against it because it doesn't give Staples the opportunity to compete against tough teams like New Canaan and Darien.

Despite these hurdles, Lawrence and the team hope to be successful. Aldrich said, "I look forward to finishing high school track strongly with my teammates."