The Foran girls outdoor track and field team is off to a solid 3-3 start and coach Rick Raucci couldn’t be happier.
“Thanks to a collection of things, a combination of things, this is our best start since I started coaching seven years ago,” said Raucci during his tri-meet with Career and Cheshire at Cheshire on Tuesday. “We typically get somewhere in the mid 30s when it comes to the number of girls who come out for the team each year. But this season we have 50 girls on the team and that is fantastic.
“We have a lot more underclassmen who are putting in a lot of hard work. This includes a lot of freshman talent. We have a group of very talented freshmen who are contributing. This season, thanks in large part to their hard work, our focus is on everyone being more versatile and competing in multiple events. All of this, the hard work, the large number of girls, and buying into the idea of being more versatile, has given us more depth than in previous years.”
Emma Cote and Julia Munn are among those contributing to success. In a recent tri-meet with Hand and North Haven Cote won the 1600 (6 minutes, 11 seconds) and Munn won the pole vault (7-0). The Lions have four pole vaulters on the team. Sophomore Soledad Meade won the pole vault in a recent victory over Guilford (8 feet) and in the Cheshire/Career tri-meet (7-6). The other pole vaulters are Jamie Visochi and freshman Ava Steigbigel.
Kathryn Dennis contributes in the 4×100 relay, long jump, triple jump and won the 100 (13.4) at the Guilford meet. Pauline Fernandez competes in the 4×100 relay and won the 200 (27.2) at the Guilford meet and at the Cheshire/Career tri-meet in 26.5 seconds.Another freshman, Ashley Wright, competes in the 100, 200 and 400 and also contributes in the hurdles.
Other contributors are the team’s tri-captains Maggie Cummings (1600, 3200), Cote, and Tessa Malesky (high jump, hurdles).
“This good start to the season has really motivated us,” Cote said. “We’re all doing our best and we’re beating teams that beat us in the past.”
Cummings said, “We’re pushing each other and supporting each other to see how long we can keep winning and improving.”
“The girls are very excited,” Raucci said. “We beat two teams so far, Guilford and North Haven, who beat us last year. Hopefully this creates some momentum as we head toward the postseason (SCC meet, Class MM), and postseason success is what we are working toward. The versatility we’ve focused on is a huge positive for us because we can sub girls in any event and know we can get a positive outcome.”
Solid start for Morgan girls
The Morgan girls got off to a 3-0 start and coach Jared Stevens isn’t surprised.
“The girls are off to a strong start, which is typical for the program,” Stevens said. “We are hoping that this success continues throughout the course of the season. Many of the girls have created a strong platform and foundation from the indoor season to improve upon their skills.
“The early success for our girls is due to their hard work and dedication stemming from the indoor season. Those that competed during the winter set goals, not only for that season, but for the outdoor season as well. Most of the upperclassmen are looking to set personal bests for themselves with goals of competing for Shoreline Conference titles and top five finishes at the (CIAC) Class S meet.”
Stevens said as a program the girls try to stress the importance of training and performing every time they step on the track to become better.
“Our goal is to try and have every athlete improve upon themselves from the start of the season to the end, with the end result being that they get the chance to compete in the Shoreline Championship and Class S state meet,” Stevens said.
One member of the team enjoying early success is Sydney Church. In a recent tri-meet she won the 110 hurdles (18.1) and the 300 hurdles in wins over Branford (75-62) and Career (86-47).
Other top athletes include Alyssa LeMay: who has a win in the long jump this season, is the starting leg of the 4×100 relay teams, and is a favorite in the Shoreline Conference in the 200. Stevens said Taylor Wyatt is a top contender in the Shoreline Conference in the 100 and she anchors the 4×100 relay team. Alex Wolf excels in the long jump. She is another top competitor in the 100 and is the third leg of the 4×100 relay team.
“The girls have a very positive attitude and the early success does help to fuel the fire and the momentum moving forward,” Stevens said. “This energy will definitely help to improve running times and distances in field events.
“It shows our athletes that with hard work comes positive results and that makes them want to work harder. As a program, the coaching staff tries to use that to build and foster a hard work ethic from the girls day in and day out.”
Jared Andrea, Cheshire: He won the 100 (11.1) and the 200 (24.1) in a win over Fairfield Prep (90-47) and loss to Xavier (93-48).
Matt Alexander, Branford: He won the high jump (5-8) and the long jump (20-0) in a 103-47 win over Wilbur Cross.
Luke Nemecek, Amity: He won the shot put (39-6) and the javelin (130-8) in a four-team meet with wins over Branford (90.3-59.6), Fairfield Prep (127-23) and Foran (137-23).
Keseri Gonzales, Bunnell: She won the 200 (26.8) and the 100 (12.7) in wins over Immaculate (108-38) and New Milford (96.5-52.5).
Rachel Colegrove, Masuk: She won the 200 (26.8) and ran legs of the winning 4×100 and 4×400 relays in wins over Kolbe Cathedral (94-46) and New Milford (96.5-52.5).
Emma Nelly, Law: She won the long jump (14-5), won the high jump (4-8) and won the triple jump (31-0) in a 85-66 win over Hand.
MEETS TO WATCH
Connecticut Distance Festival, at Xavier (Middletown), Thursday, 4:30 p.m.: Unique meet attracts top distance runners from New York and across New England.
Hillhouse Invitational, New Haven, Saturday, 10 a.m.: Some of the top teams in the state gather for an early post-season preview.
Darien, McMahon at Wilton, Monday, 4 p.m.: A key FCIAC matchup.