WINTER PREVIEW Staples indoor track teams carry talent, optimism into new season
Updated 5:10 pm, Saturday, December 8, 2012
WESTPORT -- After reaching All-American status last year as a junior, there's plenty more that Henry Wynne is looking to accomplish in his final go-round with the Staples High boys indoor track team.
Wynne will compete in a number of events including the 1,000-meter and two-mile and is hoping to again etch his name into the school's record books. The senior, who won the New England cross country championship last month, is aiming to break the state's indoor mile record (4:13) and possibly the state's indoor 1,000 record (2:27.15), which he finished a second off of last year.
"I have a few more Staples records that I'd really like to get and there's some state records that are within reach," said Wynne, who will run at Division-I University of Virginia next year.
Last season, Wynne helped carry Staples to one of its finest seasons in program history as the Wreckers won FCIAC, LL state and State Open titles. He'll be heavily relied upon again this season.
"Last year we actually built our championship lineup around him. Once we decided what he was going to do, it was easy to just put everyone else in," Staples coach Laddie Lawrence said. "We'll probably be doing the same thing this year, except that we expect many of the distance runners to be much stronger than last year."
Wynne piled up victories at last season's Open as he placed first in the 1,000, as well as the 4x400 and 1,600-sprint medley relays.
Staples graduated a good chunk of talent from that team including three All-American sprinters, Jon Heil, Max Hoberman and Zach Mitchell. Lawrence said that the sprints will likely be the team's "biggest problem area."
"Between Heil, Hoberman and Mitchell, that's a lot of speed to lose all at once," Lawrence said.
"I think that's an area where we're going to have to work hard," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said that the long jump and high jump could be areas of strength for the team. Senior Colin Davis will likely specialize in both events, while seniors Ethan Bradeen and Kyle Smith will do the high jump, and Petersen will do the long jump.
Senior Sam Cohen will run distance, while seniors Walker Marsh and Ian Teran will run the 600. Seniors Patrick Nolan and Brad Payne are expected to run the 1,000 along with juniors Peter Elkind and Will McDonald. Seniors Matt Mula, Doug Caffery and Alex Lochoff will be pole vaulters.
Lawrence said that the team had 104 athletes on the team early in the preseason--slightly less than the average turnout, according to the 44th-year coach--and believes Staples will again be one of the top teams in the FCIAC.
"We probably lost more than the average team loses, but we also probably have coming back more than the average team (does)," Lawrence said. "We're probably a little bit ahead of the curb in most areas."
Staples' girls indoor track team placed fourth in the FCIAC, sixth at the LL state meet and 15th at the Open last season.
The Wreckers return a strong senior core that includes Emily Troelstra, Amanda Giannitti, Georgia Kursten, Kelly Harris and Alexandra O'Kane. Coach Jesse McCray is asking the seniors to be leaders at all times for a team that has 115 athletes, including 60 freshmen.
"The most important thing they can do is be role models for the program," he said.
McCray said that one of the team's strengths could be in the jumping events. Giannitti will handle the long jump, as well as sprinting, while sophomores Elizabeth Knoll and Bridget van Dorsten will compete in both the long jump and high jump.
"We have more experience in that area than any other area at this point in time," McCray said of the jumping events.
Troelstra, Harris, junior Tyler Scanlin and sophomore Olivia Wiener are expected to compete in the sprinting events. Kursten, O'Kane and freshman Hannah DeBalsi will likely be distance runners.
"Consistently we want to be among the better teams in the league. We've done a good job to maintain that," McCray said, "but this year we're very young. It's going to be a challenge for us but I'm sure we're going to do our best to try to get to that point."
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