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2022-23 Woodstock Academy boys indoor track season preview

The Woodstock Academy boys and girls indoor track teams are not only putting on their running, but also their travelling, shoes this winter.

The Centaurs used to get two or three Eastern Connecticut Conference meets, including the championship, at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, which was generally their closest meet to home.

Unfortunately, that facility is being remodeled and is unavailable this year.

The Eastern Connecticut Conference, instead, will host one meet at Providence Tech in Rhode Island with the league championship at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Woodstock Academy coach Josh Welch said. “On the upside, we get to compete in better facilities. The facility at Providence Tech is phenomenal and it means we will also run regular distance for relays which we haven’t been able to do at Coast Guard because of the outline of the track. It should mean some faster times. We should have more opportunities for kids to qualify for (state championship meet) events but it does mean we’re all over the place (travel) time-wise and space-wise.”

The Floyd Little Athletic Center also hosts the state championship meets later in the season.

“We’re guaranteed to get a meet in there that is not too overwhelming. The Invitationals at (Floyd Little) have become huge and take forever which is why I’m opting for the Bethel Invitationals. It’s a 15-minute longer drive but is two or three hours shorter,” Welch said of the New Haven facility which is located at Hillhouse High School. “It’s a lot more travel which makes for a longer day (for the ECC Championship) but it’s also a much larger facility and we will fit better in there and may actually be able to have some spectators. Coast Guard gets very packed.”

The ECC championship tends to be the one that every indoor track team shoots for, the state championships are more of an individual goal.

The girls finished second in the league title meet to East Lyme last year.

“We gave most of them a run for their money,” Welch said of last year. “East Lyme is still a whole other animal but we were right up there with (Norwich Free Academy) with a small number of girls. It’s really about how many individual championships you can take down and we won quite a few events that day.”

The boys finished fourth in the league.

“It will always be tough to take what we have and put them against East Lyme and NFA and the numbers they have. We try to take individual championships and put a dent in (East Lyme and NFA’s) scores,” Welch said.

The Centaurs boys had three first-place finishes in the league meet a year ago while the girls went one better and finished with four league firsts.

The state championship meets will also present a challenge, not only for the athletes, but the coaching staff.

The girls are in Class L this season and will compete in New Haven at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. The boys are in Class M and are slotted for a 10 a.m. start on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“Those can be really tough because if we start a little late, run late and then, usually stop at a late-night McDonald’s on the way home. We get off the bus at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and are back on the bus at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday,” Welch said. “It’s a tough transition.

The Centaurs have 28 boys out for the program currently which is a little smaller than in the recent past.

But that number at the start of a season can be fluid.

“We get kids who don’t make the basketball programs and already have another who is trying it to get in shape for lacrosse. So we’re going to see some new guys try a new sport. Some are upperclassmen, some are younger but we had a good number of freshmen and sophomores come out,” Welch said.

The boys cross-country team has helped to populate the boys indoor team with sophomore Christian Menounos, who qualified for the New England cross-country championship, leading the way among distance runners.

“He’s really coming along,” Welch said. “The way he is growing, the way he trains, he could be down in that low 16-minute area (for the 3200m). He got himself into that area in cross-country which is awesome. He is really gunning for the 1000m (school) record. It may or may not be this year. His 5K and endurance times are great, but getting his mile and sub-mile times down low enough is the focus. He wants to focus on the 1000, wants to be faster and wants to see his mile time come down.”

Seniors Vincente Bastura and Charles Cagiano, junior Joel Koleszar and sophomore Colton Sallum will also compete in distance events.

Bastura is the defending ECC champion in the 1600m.

The Centaurs did lose Keenan LaMontagne who finished first in the ECC championship in the shot and was fourth in the State Open.

But right behind him was Jared Eaton and he’s back for his senior season.

“He’s pretty good, too,” said Welch with a laugh. “Realistically, he’s a pretty good thrower. He can easily be up into the high 40-foot range and pushing for the top in the ECC. He will be really competitive at the state level and if he really focuses, has a chance to qualify for New England’s.”

Junior Austin Adams and sophomore Michael Susi (pole vault/jumps)  will also compete in the throws.

Sprints are dominated by the senior class with Jeff Phongsa, Liam Wilcox, Rocco Corrado and Braedon Emerson all returning and both Carter Saracina and Brian Jameson joining the program for a first time.