For Amity head coach Thom Jacobs, the outdoor track and field season is like a jigsaw puzzle.
“I know that I have my workout program planned out for the entire season, all 13 weeks,” Jacobs said. “I spend a great deal of time piecing the whole thing together.”
This spring though, some of the pieces didn’t quite fit into place for Jacobs and many teams across the state. See the FCIAC and Class LL; two championship meets that were turned into two-day events because of thunder and lightning.
Whether weather or facility issues, every team had its own set of problems to deal with this spring.
“This year was very difficult because of the weather,” Jacobs said. “Postponements have forced so many changes to what I normally plan that I know that we didn’t hit everything in training that we usually do at Amity.”
Despite the circumstances, teams have found ways to overcome the obstacles. And at today’s State Open at Middletown (1:30 p.m. start), they will be ready to compete.
“Weather was a huge challenge this season, and I’m proud that this group of Amity athletes met that challenge head on,” Jacobs said.
For Chris Stonier’s crew at Xavier, it was more than the outdoor elements they dealt with. The Falcons’ are currently rebuilding their athletic facilities, which meant no home track this season. That forced the team to turn to the parking lot, roads and twice a week bussing to Woodrow Wilson Middle School at 5 p.m. for practice.
“With the limited time spent at the track, it was extremely hard to convince young athletes to try technical events such as the long jump, triple jump and high jump,” Stonier said. “As if the cold, wet weather was not enough discouragement for the athletes, postponed track meets often fell on the only day of the week that we were planning to use the Woodrow facilities. The coaching staff and athletes are looking forward to next year, as this was a season that, with luck, should only occur once every twenty years.”
Through it all though, athletes have managed to make the best of this season and produce outstanding marks and times.
Monday’s State Open will feature a variety of talent with the distance events offering some of the more intriguing story lines.
“Despite all of these challenges, the quality of the performances at the State Open championships will be very good,” Stonier said. “Connecticut has been producing high quality athletes in recent years, most notably in the distance events. There have been years when running sub 9:40 in the 3,200 would guarantee a spot at the New England Championships, while this year athletes should be expecting to run sub 9:25 to have a shot.”
In the girls’ 1,600, five girls enter with sub-five minute times. Danae Rivers of Wilbur Cross is the top seed in the 800 (2:10.98) and has a shot to break the state record (2:07.19) set by Liz Mueller of Waterford in 1992.
On the boys’ side, Fairfield Prep’s Christian Alvarado comes in seeded No. 1 in the 1,600 (4:13) and 3,200 (9:06.67). He’ll be challenged by a handful of runners including Darien’s Alex Ostberg who has clocked a sub-nine minute 3,200 this season.
And while Monday ’s weather forecast doesn’t look perfect, teams will be prepared.
“I expect an outstanding Open, with some very high level performances,” Jaocbs said.