Track & Field
Centaurs improve at States
The Woodstock Academy boys track team failed to have any of their members qualify for the State Open championship on Monday.
But it didn't mean the Centaurs didn't see improvement.
Senior Danylo Ntamwemizi stood out in that regard.
Ntamwemizi barely snuck into the Class MM state championship meet with a throw of 41-feet at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship the week before.
On Wednesday in Middletown, Ntamwemizi cleared that mark by almost two feet, finishing with a toss of 42 feet, 8 1/2 inches to claim a seventh-place finish.
Fellow senior Lucas Couture easily cleared 11 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault.
He tried to go for more, but narrowly missed on three chances at 12-feet and settled for a tie for seventh place.
Kenneth Birlin placed 12th in the 800-meter while Ethan Aspiras struggled against a fast pace at the start of the 3,200-meter event and ended in 15th.
More qualify for States at ECC's
Only four members of the Woodstock Academy boys track team had qualified for this week's Class MM state championship competition heading into the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship at East Lyme last Monday.
Two more joined those ranks by the end of the day.
Dan Ntamwemizi was just three inches shy of qualifying in the shotput going into the ECC championship.
Ntamwemizi got himself into the MM field with a throw of 41-feet at East Lyme.
“He qualified for States,” Woodstock Academy coach Peter Lusa said with a sigh. “It was something he had been working toward. We’re happy about that. He just made it.”
Nathan Craig also qualified for state competition when he cleared 39-feet, 3-inches in the triple jump which, unlike Ntamwemizi, netted him a spot in the States by a couple of inches.
“We have a few more guys. It’s going to be a good day,” Lusa said of the state competition.
The MM championship will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Middletown High School.
Lucas Couture finished with a personal best 11-feet, 6-inch effort in the pole vault and came in third overall in the ECC in the event.
Sophomore Ethan Aspiras was sixth in the 3,200-meter race.
The Centaurs finished 13th overall as a team.
“The ECC is a great meet, well run, they do a great job at East Lyme. The kids rose to the occasion and Putnam was at the ECC’s again this year. That was very nice to see,” Lusa said.
Centaurs conclude regular season
It was a relatively short regular season for the Woodstock Academy boys track team.
It consisted of just three Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I meets and a couple of Invitationals.
The season, as a whole, comes to a close shortly with the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship meet on Monday and the Class MM state championship meet on May 29 in Middletown.
“We definitely need to work on the scheduling next season,” Woodstock Academy boys coach Peter Lusa said. “We need to fit in some meets with Killingly or some other local stuff. We want to have Pomfret, Marianapolis, maybe Tourtellotte, come in and have some kind of Northeast regional meet. We need more, local competition.”
Woodstock Academy ended its short dual-meet season with a 111-49 loss at East Lyme on Tuesday.
“It was a cold, rainy day so it wasn’t a great day for the sprinters or the jumpers. None of them did as well as they thought but the distance guys came through and ran pretty well. When I asked for a show of hands on the bus, a lot of kids had personal bests. We’re toward the end of the season. We’re getting into shape and we’re peaking when we need to,” Lusa said.
The final meet of the season was supposed to be at home, but due to the wetness of the throwing areas, it had to be shifted to East Lyme.
“The upside of that is that the boys got to go to East Lyme where the ECC’s will be. We got a chance to see the location and got a feel for the layout. We got kids to start to visualize what they need to do and where they need to go,” Lusa said.
The Centaurs (0-3, 0-3) did bring home some first-place finishes from the shoreline.
Kenneth Birlin won the 800 meter race in 2:04.8.
The senior is one of four athletes who have qualified for state competition.
More could do so at the ECC championship meet.
Lucas Couture captured a first-place finish in the 110 Hurdles and qualified for state competition at the same time by finishing in 17 seconds flat.
Couture also finished second in the pole vault where he has already qualified for the states.
Ethan Aspiras has also qualified in the two mile.
Danylo Ntamwemizi is flirting with a state berth.
The senior also took home a first in the shot put with a throw of 40-feet, 9-inches.
That left him just three inches shy of qualifying for the state meet.
Eric Phongsa took second place in both the 100 and 200-meter races against East Lyme while Nathan Craig was runner up in the 300-meter hurdles and the triple jump.
Jackson Dias was second in the high jump.
“We have a very young squad and we lost some to injury and some to work. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” Lusa said. “As a whole, the program is up, both boys and girls, both in the expectations and what we want out of them so the future is looking good.”
Week 2 review: Couture shines in Norwich and Ledyard
Kenneth Birlin scored a first-place finish for the Centaurs who fell to Norwich Free Academy, 125-25, in Norwich last Wednesday.
“They actually sat a bunch of their kids because of missed practices and things like that. It was wonderful meet, but they are just loaded,” Woodstock Academy coach Pete Lusa said.
Birlin took first in the 800-meter with a personal best 2:06.4.
“It was a good win for him because in our first meet at Fitch, he kind of went out and ran all on his own. This time, he was challenged until about three-quarters of the way through and he pulled ahead. I’m looking forward to him running at Middletown (the Middletown Invitational takes place Saturday) where he will be a slow seed and he will have people running faster than him and will, hopefully, push him beyond the time he wants to get,” Lusa said.
Lucas Couture qualified for the states with a second in the pole vault (10-feet-6), was second in the 110-meter hurdles and was a member of the winning 4x400 team.
His time in the hurdles was a tenth off of qualifying for States.
“That was into the wind,” Lusa said. “He was pretty pleased (with the hurdles) and he went over 10-6 pretty smoothly (in the pole vault).”
Adam Schimmelpfennig was second in the 300 hurdles and Ethan Aspiras was second in the 3200m for the Centaurs (0-2, 0-2 ECC Division I).
Jackson Dias added third-place finishes in the high jump and 300-meter hurdles.
The big goal for the Centaurs now is to get athletes qualified for state competition.
“To get the kids who can qualify qualified,” Lusa said. “Before the season, I would have named five or six kids who might qualify with serious work and without injury. We’re down to about two or three.”
It was a long, cold day in Ledyard on Saturday.
The Ledyard Relays, normally a two-day event, was condensed to one due to inclement weather on Friday.
Couture bettered his performance at Norwich in the pole vault, getting a personal best when he cleared the bar at 11-feet.
The 4 x 800-meter team of Birlin, Dias, Benjamin Green and Jeremy Romano finished fourth.
Centaurs open at Fitch
The Woodstock Academy boys track team got its first taste of what competition will be like in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference on Tuesday.
It won’t be easy.
The Centaurs were outnumbered and that means a lot in the sport of outdoor track and field, they lost to the Fitch Falcons, 104-46, in Groton.
“They have a really big team, 75-plus guys on the team, and very well-behaved, wonderful athletes. They doubled up kids, had them running multiple events, and our kids did the best they could.” Woodstock Academy coach Peter Lusa said.
The Centaurs did have a host of personal bests.
“Our training is working, but I just wish we had a few more backups, a few more kids,” Lusa said.
Senior Lucas Couture picked up a pair of first-place finishes for the Centaurs.
Couture cleared the bar at 10 feet in the pole vault on a windy and chilly day down by the shoreline.
His personal best is 10-feet-6 but he has his eyes much higher this season.
The school record, for example, is 14-feet-9.
“It’s there, it’s attainable, but I would have to work very hard. I would be happy if I get 12 or 13 feet this season. It really boosted my confidence starting off 10 feet in the first meet,” Couture said. “The conditions may have affected my performance, so it’s good to know that I can only go up from here.”
Couture didn’t have much competition against the Falcons.
Couture started at 8-6, quickly went up another foot, and then to 10 before fouling out at 10-6.
“He was all by himself at the end,” Lusa said. “It was getting more and more bitter and, as the top guy, you have to wait for everyone else to finish and you know the weather is coming.”
Couture also challenged himself on the track.
He ran the 50-meter hurdles indoors but had never attempted the 110-hurdles outdoors.
His first try produced some pretty nice results as he also garnered a first place in that event.
“I messed my step up on one of them and went over the wrong way, kicked (the hurdle) pretty far so that was pretty funny,” Couture said.
Couture also produced the fastest leg in the 4 x 400m relay for the Centaurs.
The distance guys also scored for the Centaurs.
Sophomore Ethan Aspiras finished first in the 3,200m and second in the 800m just behind senior Kenneth Birlin who won the 800 in 2 minutes, 6 seconds.
“It’s one of the biggest crews we have,” Lusa said of the distance group. “(Assistant coach) Joe Banas seems to like some kids in, but we’re going to pull some back out because they can probably do better in the sprints. It was a good day for them and they ran well.”
Lusa said Birlin’s time in the 800 was a bit of a surprise as no one was pushing him. He had 100 yards on Aspiras at the finish line.
Jackson Dias finished first in the 300m hurdles and was second in the high jump. Eric Phongsa was second in the 200m and Danylo Ntamwemizi was third in the shotput.
“We’re going to be shelved next week,” Lusa said of the impending spring break. “We’re missing half the kids for various reasons. The dorms are emptying so we’re missing those guys. It’s a good chance (for some rest) as we have some kids with sore ankles and sore shoulders. We can get them recuperated and back on training. We come back for a meet (versus Norwich Free Academy on April 24) and the Ledyard Relays before we have another lull,” Lusa said.