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2022-23 Woodstock Academy girls indoor track season preview

The Woodstock Academy boys and girls indoor track teams are not only putting on their running, but also their traveling, 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 girls team has some pretty talented athletes to work with.

Senior Bella Sorrentino, for example, has turned away from some other sports such as volleyball and gymnastics to focus on her track career.

While specialization in high school is not always looked highly upon, in this case, it may be a good thing considering where the senior’s future may lie.

“I think it’s good for her. She has some really good recruitment opportunities coming her way, she has college coaches reaching out from all over the place,” Welch said. “I’ve had coaches hit me up on Linked In asking who this Bella kid from Connecticut is and can they get in touch with her. That’s really cool. She is one of the best in the state in the heptathlon (seventh last year) and is just an incredible athlete.”

Sorrentino will help the team with that versatility as she will compete in the throws, jumps, sprints and hurdles.

“Her sprints are coming along, her hurdle times are getting significantly faster where she could compete in the hurdles alone at the Division I level, never mind as a multi-event athlete. It’s great to see her focused on her goals and I know we she wants to continue that in college,” Welch said.

Sorrentino is not the only talented athlete.

Senior Magdalena Myslenski qualified for the Nationals last year in the discus outdoors and will be throwing the shot indoor and is also very competitive in the pole vault.

“I think the Nationals experience helped her confidence but she is just growing up and is a tremendously responsible, mature kid, super-bright and super-coachable. It seems like there has been a shift there (in confidence) and we will see how that works out as we head toward competition. She’s more outspoken and taken more leadership. She is definitely one of the top two in the ECC’s in pole vault if she doesn’t get frazzled,” Welch said with a smile.

Senior Sophia Quinn will also compete in the pole vault and shotput.

The Centaurs also have sophomore Juliet Allard who was strong in both the sprints and hurdles as a freshman.

Other sprinters include senior Gianna Smith, junior Kendall McCormack, and sophomores Isabella Selmecki and Mia Sorrentino.

Junior Talia Tremblay is a strong middle-distance runner.

The team has a plethora of distance runners in seniors Lauren Brule, Tessa Brown, and Sydney Lord; juniors Lana Syriac and Julia Coyle; sophomore Kira Green and freshman Olivia Tracy. Brule, Coyle and Selmecki will also compete in some middle-distance events.

Junior Jillian Edwards will lead the way in jumps with Mia Sorrentino, Smith and McCormack also competing in those events.

“I think we have standouts and possible ECC champions in the hurdles, the dash, the high jump, could have some in the shotput and pole vault. There are four or five there and Talia could be a champ in the 600m. Julia Coyle will be right up in the mix in the 1000 and 1600m,” Welch said. “We have a good chance to take down the same amount or better of individual championships that we did last year.”