Last yearâ€™s outdoor track season saw a number of all-conference selections as well as a conference championship in the local area, and plenty of the talent responsible will be returning for another season.
Innovationâ€™s senior class will be shooting for its third CRAL championship in 2019, while New Britain will be trying to improve one spot from last yearâ€™s finish to reach the top-10 in Class LL. With the season just days away, there is plenty for these teams to compete for this year.
Here is a closer look at each team:
Head coach: Tim Kolodziej
Last year: Finished 11th at Class LL championships
Key losses: Jaylen Rivera, Abdul Waldo, Carlos Villarini, Anthony Madera
Expected key returnees: Mykal Porter (junior), Jonathan Lindsay (senior), Chaz Williams (senior), Nazir Vellon (senior), Baijeon Bookal (junior), Gerald Wright (senior)
Outlook: The Hurricanes boasted six names on the All-CCC Team last spring, and four of them (Lindsay, Williams, Vellon and Porter) will be back this year. New Britain had a solid showing at the state level last season, but Waldo will be a big loss after he finished second in the triple jump at last yearâ€™s state championships. The 4x100 meter relay team that took seventh at the event last year lost two runners in Villarini and Rivera, so Bookal and Williams will have to step up and take the lead for whoever Kolodziej slides in to fill the void. Expect another strong showing in hurdles events this spring, as Lindsay and Williams both secured top-five finishes in their hurdles events at Class LL last season.
Head coach: Rich Hanbury (26th season)
Last year: 4-2, finished 24th at Class MM championships
Key losses: N/A
Key returnees: Alex Halkias (senior, 100 meter, 200 meter, long jump, 4x100 relay), AJ Kahn (senior, discus, shot put, javelin), Matt Bacon (senior, hurdles, triple jump), Mike Parzych (junior, 1600 meter, 3200 meter), Jack Crowley (senior, 100 meter, 4x100 relay, javelin, shot put, 200 meter), Jimmy Gricco (senior, 400 meter, 4x400 relay, 4x800 relay)
Outlook: Halkias will be the Redcoat to watch this spring, as the senior comes off a historic season in which he broke the school record in the 200 meter and qualified for New Englands in the event after finishing sixth at the State Open. Look for Halkias to be a potential candidate for the National Championships this year.
Head coach: Alex Joseph
Last year: N/A
Key losses: Luke Pappalardo (4x100 relay)
Expected key returnees: Patrick Casey (junior, 4x100 relay), Mark Fournier (senior, 4x100 relay), Aslant Tate (senior, 4x100 relay), Aiden Toth (Sr)
Notable newcomers: N/A
Outlook: The Indiansâ€™ 4x100 relay team highlighted the programâ€™s showing at the Class L state championships, finishing in 14th place. That relay group brings back three of its competitors, including all-conference selection Aslant Tate, who will try to help Newington earn a better overall result at the state level this year.
Head coach: Dan Dachelet
Last year: 4-2, 3rd at CCC-West meet, 20th at Class LL championshipsÂ Â
Key losses: Zach Burleigh (pole vault), Cam Clynes (400 meter), Jack TerrayÂ
Key returnees: Ryan Slesinski (senior, 800 meter), Eli Rodriguez (senior, 110- and 300-meter hurdles), Matt Penna (junior, 3200-meter and 3000-meter steeplechase), Casey Selinske (senior, pole vault, sprint medley relay, 4x400-meter relay), Lucca Riccio (junior, 3200 meter)Â
Notable newcomers: Aiden Chesanow (sophomore, pole vault, high jump)
Outlook: The Blue Knights lost two major contributors to graduation in Burleigh and Clynes, each of which were conference champions last year. They do bring back a conference champ in Rodriguez, but while the team has one of its biggest groups ever,Â they will take some time to develop.
Head coach: Tim Shea (3rd season)
Last year: 3-3, 19th at Class M championships
Key losses: N/A
Key returnees: John Siani (senior, multi), Jason Mills (senior, throw), Sam Lestini (senior, multi), Cole McNamara (senior, distance), Connor McNamara (senior, distance), Chad Girard (senior, sprint), Dom Pedrolini (senior, sprint), Marcos Gutierrez (senior, hurdle), Andrew Kane (senior, distance), TK McCrorey (senior, mid), Alex Hernandez (senior, sprint/jump), Brendan Quilter (senior, sprint/vault), Sergio Zaldivar (senior, jumps), Angel Wren (junior, sprint/jump), Fabi La Oz (junior, sprint), Jens Wadehn (junior, sprint/hurdle), Ty Pales (junior, throws), Eryk Piotroski (junior, mid), Jacob Pierce (junior, sprint), Tayshawn Johnson (sophomore, sprint/hurdle/jump), Darius Correa (sophomore, mid), Jeremy Courtar (sophomore, mid), Corey Rexinger (sophomore, mid), Beau Lasher (sophomore, sprint/jump), Ryan Baker (sophomore, throw)
Notable newcomers: Justin Emery (sprint), Dylan Brewer (sprint/hurdle/jump)
Outlook: Shea is excited about the load of seniors returning for the upcoming season, but juniors Angel Wren and Felix La Oz will also be names to watch after they finished in the top-20 at last yearâ€™s Class M championships in the 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash, respectively. The McNamaras will be a duo to watch for distance, as the two seniors finished back-to-back in the 3200-meter run at the state championships, with Cole finishing 11th and Connor finishing 12th.
Head coach: Bryan McCain (6th season)
Last year: won CRAL championship, finished 17th at Class S championships
Key losses: N/A
Key returnees: Clinton Allen (junior, discus, javelin) Gramoz Ajeti (senior, shot put), Christus Akrong (senior, shot put, discus), Jonathan Rodriguez (senior, 110-meter hurdles, long, high and triple jump, 400 meter), Malachi Bolden (junior, 4x100, 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, 4x400 relay,), Lester Emmanuel (senior, 4x100 relay, 100 meter, long jump), Elijah Pouncey (senior, 4x100 relay, 100 meter, long jump), Lenny Okonya (senior, high jump), AJ Corso (senior, mile, 600 meter, steeplechase), Quentin Askew (senior, 400 meter, 800 meter, 300-meter hurdles)
Outlook: As you can see above, the Ravens are loaded with senior talent, many of which currently hold school and league records. McCain enters the season expecting his athletes to set either school or conference records in every event. The current core of seniors have multiple CRAL championships under its belt, thanks to athletes like Corso, who finished in the top-10 at the State Open last year in the 2,000 meter steeplechase. Corso and Innovation will be the team to beat once again in the CRAL this spring.