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Indoor track goes outdoors

This week’s weatherhas  brought about a lot of spring fever, including among local athletic teams.

The pandemic may have cancelled the competitive portion of the season for high school indoor track teams when it had to be indoors, but the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference did give its permission in late February to allow teams to compete on a limited basis indoors or on a wider scale outside when the weather would allow.

Woodstock Academy coach Josh Welch was quick to pounce on the opportunity.

With temperatures in the mid-60’s, he took his Centaurs boys and girls teams south to Plainfield Wednesday for their first meet of the season.

Despite not having any scheduled indoor meets, the Centaurs continued to practice in small groups during the winter months.

“When it was first announced that we could hold indoor meets, outdoors, I started looking for opportunities to get out there and help the kids learn or remember what a track meet is like,” Welch said. “That’s a hard thing for us to do up here so we looked to friends in the south to host.”

It was, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.

“The kids have really done an excellent job up to this point with staying focused and motivated at practice but the opportunity to compete certainly brought a brand new energy to the team.  It was great to see athletes go through what we typically see leading up to competition, the excitement, nervous energy, and a renewed focus.  It was awesome to see all of that energy, and athletes working together to prepare and compete.  Plainfield was really gracious to host us.  They have small indoor program right now, but did an excellent job hosting as we wait for everything to thaw and get prepared for competition at our facility,” Welch added.

With the numbers in their favor, the Centaurs did quite well,

The Woodstock Academy boys downed the Panthers, 72-13, while the girls posted a 57-10 win.

Adam Schimmelpfennig  posted first-place finishes in the 110 hurdles and 300-meter and was a member of the winning 4x200 meter relay team.

Senior Ethan Aspiras also had a pair of wins in both the 1,000 and 3,200-meter races.

“Ethan came out and matched his personal best from last year in the 1,000m in his first race and held off solid competition from Plainfield to take the win.  Coming back at the 3,200m was a struggle but he ran a great race there as well, so we can see the foundation for an excellent outdoor season, but can also see where having some competition will allow him to get back in to top shape,” Welch said.

Eric Phongsa (55-meter dash, 4x200-meter); Scout Favreau (600-meter); Ishaan Lingayat (long jump) and Everett Michalski (shot put) also recorded first-place finishes.

“Scout also had an excellent first race matching his personal best in the 600m from last year, taking part in the winning 4x200m team, a second place in the hurdles.  In his second year he is branching out a bit, trying new events, and really helps pull the team together,” Welch added.

On the girls side, Bella Sorrentino had quite the season debut.

“I asked a lot of Bella Sorrentino as a sophomore to compete in all that she did.  She has aspirations of taking part in the 7-event heptathlon in the future so I wanted to provide her with some practice for that by placing her in the shot, the long jump, the 4x200m and the hurdles.  For a young athlete she has tremendous focus and is always willing to accept a challenge.  That paid off for her with four first-place finishes,” Welch said.

Sorrentino placed first in all four of her events.

Linsey Arends placed first in both the 1,000 and 1,600-meter races for the Centaurs.

Like Aspiras, Welch was very happy to see Arends, another of his distance runners, turn in a pair of fine performances.

“She came out and ran a 1000m that was excellent and right on track with her times from the end of last season,” Welch said. “She struggled to come back from that to run the 1,600m but hung in there and took a first place in that as well.  Taking these opportunities for tough doubles like that should help prepare for the outdoor season, and her ability to recover and jump back in.”

Jillian Edwards (55-meter) and Carah Bruce (3,200-meter) also had first-place finishes for the Centaurs.

Woodstock Academy is also slated to compete against Norwich Free Academy next Saturday, March 20,  in Norwich.

While Welch agrees this is a nice little jump on the spring season, he also feels it is one that is much needed.

“None of these athletes have participated in a race on the track, or competition in the field, in over a year.  It is a huge help to get out there and have the kids really pushing themselves.  There is only so much we can do with practice time and internal competition. Athletes need simple reminders about how to prepare for a meet, when to warm up for events, following the rules at the track and events, and these meets are really helping us brush off the cobwebs,” Welch said.