Schickler: Lawrence's direction helps Wreckers win Open
Updated 10:46 pm, Thursday, February 23, 2012
This year's Staples boys indoor track team is special.
With its State Open win on Saturday, the team picked up its fourth championship in four meets, having previously won the FCIAC Western Division Championship, FCIAC Championship and Class LL Championship.
"I'm very proud of the team for winning all of the championships," Wreckers coach Laddie Lawrence said. "The senior and junior classes have outstanding athletes."
Winning all four crowns in a season is difficult because the competition is tough. The lineup for the class meet and State Open are tied together in that the top finishers in each class qualify for State Open. Designing the lineup to win both competitions is especially difficult because they are two different types of meets.
Teams that win the class meet usually have a lot of depth, while at Open, having one athlete with the potential to win every event he or she competes in, could single-handedly put his or her team at or near the top. The Wreckers possess both traits.
"We set the lineup this year to win Open, and we hoped we could win Class LL," Lawrence said. "We got both."
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Staples' relays teams traditionally score points. The Wreckers also consistently finish at or near the top in the pole vault at FCIAC and state meets. This year is no exception, as Staples has consistently scored in sprints, middle distance and distance events. The Wreckers have also scored in all jumping events, especially the pole vault.
Junior Henry Wynne is a dominant performer who won every single event he competed in at the championship meets, and is the special athlete who can single-handedly put Staples in good position to win State Open.
Wynne won the 1,000 meters, 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters during the two FCIAC meets. During the two state meets, he ran the 1,000, plus a leg in both the sprint medley and 4x400 meter relays.
The 30 points Wynne scored in each of the four meets was impressive. But the 30 points at the State Open was enormous because teams have won the meet with as few as 36 points since 1998. Second-place Hillhouse this year scored 34.
With Lawrence being adept in setting the lineup, it wasn't difficult for the Wreckers to find additional points. Senior Dean Hefnawy took second in the pole vault, good for eight points, and Staples was on its way.
"We had pretty sound leadership this year," Lawrence said. "They were active in deciding the lineup, and they were instrumental in a lot of decision-making."
The captains say Lawrence deserves much of the credit.
"First and foremost, we have a great coach," senior quad-captain Max Hoberman said. "Laddie gives us great training and workouts. Come meets; Laddie has experience and knows how to strategically plan the lineup. Laddie is the heart and soul of the team, and we wouldn't be where we are without him."
Senior quad-captain Kyle Hoberman said, "It takes a lot of thinking, and Laddie has been around for years, and what we did was remarkable. We had all the pieces to the puzzle, from the sprinters to the 2-mile, and it turned out the right way."
Senior quad-captain Jon Heil said, "We have to stay on top of our training, and we owe a lot to Laddie. All the training he has us do allows us to succeed. Laddie knows where our strengths are, what events to run, and it worked out well."
Most successful coaches have assistants they can rely on. Lawrence's son, Andrew Lawrence works with the pole vaulters, sprinters and relays. Dan Devore (high jump and shot put), Malcolm Watson (distance events), and volunteers Rob Steinmetz (long jump) and Chris Lau (sprinters and relays) assist the elder Lawrence in guiding more than 80 athletes.
"The fact we have success every year is a tribute to the coaching staff and its training program," senior quad-captain Zach Mitchell said. "We [the captains] follow their example by being hard workers, and we push the guys to work hard in practice every day."