Both Caleb Owen and Olivia Dubuc were hoping to have one last outdoor track and field season before graduating high school, Owen for Wilbur Cross, Dubuc for Sheehan.
Both athletes would have been competing for the third consecutive season: soccer in the fall, indoor track in the winter. But the COVID-19 pandemic ended the spring sports season for everyone.
Both Owen and Dubuc ended their high school athletic careers on a high note: Both earned the Most Outstanding Athlete Award at the Southern Connecticut Conference postseason indoor track and field meet and went on to earn All-New England honors as well.
“(Dubuc) does have great strength and great speed and a lot of endurance. She has everything going for her,” Sheehan track and field coach Charlie Farley said.
Said Wilbur Cross track and field coach Travis Gale: “Caleb worked hard and always performed to the best of his ability.”
Owen and Dubuc have earned plenty of accolades for how they performed. They both are receiving one more: the 2019-20 New Haven Register Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
Think about what Owen accomplished in just his second season running track for the Governors. He won the 600-meter run at the SCC meet and placed second in the 300. He reversed those two performances at the Class LL state championship meet, in addition to running the anchor leg in the victorious 4×200 meter relay.
“He set his own goals and worked really hard. When he achieved them, it was, ‘How much faster can he go?’” Gale said.
Owen won the 300 at the State Open in 35.22 seconds, then set a school record by running that same event in 34.74 seconds, good enough for third place at the New England Championship meet. He also ran the anchor leg again in the 4×200 at the State Open, leading to another victory and another school record (1:32.18).
“Before the season began, I put in a lot of gym time with my dad, which included aqua-workouts in the pool,” Owen told the Register at the time of his Area MVP selection. “I also implemented a healthy diet, which became beneficial in the long run. The hard work I put in before and during the season played a vital role in my overall success.”
In addition to being the SCC’s Most Outstanding Runner and Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, Owen added All-New England and GameTimeCT all-state laurels, in addition to being the Register’s Area MVP.
Before turning to track, Owen played soccer year-round. He was a three-year starter for the Governors’ program this fall, leading the team to the SCC tournament and an overtime loss to eventual league champion Guilford. Owen had eight goals and three assists on the season.
Owen said his parents have been “urging me to do it (run track) for years.” So he finally relented.
It also doesn’t hurt to have those athletic genes: Owen’s dad played soccer and competed in track and field in college, and his mom did the same in basketball. And Gale ran track alongside his father’s brother at Southern Connecticut State University.
“All of a sudden, when I finally realized who (Caleb) was, it’s in their blood, in their genes, he comes from an athletic family,” Gale said.
Dubuc was the Most Outstanding Female Athlete at the SCC meet thanks to winning the 600 and anchoring the 4×400 for the Titans. She won the 600 again in the Class M meet.
Dubuc took the runner-up spot in the 600 at New Englands and third at the State Open.
“I did qualify for nationals in the 600, but that meet ended up being canceled (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). I did compete at the New England championships, where I put up my best time (1:35.81), so I was pretty happy about that,” Dubuc said. “I’ve been running track since middle school. Soccer was always my first priority, but as I started to run track more, the more I grew to love that sports as well.”
In addition to earning All-New England honors, Dubuc holds the school record in not only the 600, but also the 300 and 400.
“She’s got it all. Olivia is a great athlete, a great student, she is a very nice person, you never hear her talk like, ‘This is what I did.’ It’s always about the team,” Farley said.
Soccer, for Dubuc, has “been my passion since I was 4.” Dubuc was among the very best in the SCC, helping lead Sheehan to the Class L state semifinals.
Dubuc, a three-time All-SCC and two-time All-Area selection, finished the season with 19 goals and 66 over her stellar career.
“I love the game, I love the team environment as well. And I love the rush of scoring,” said Dubuc, who earned the Whitey Piurek Outstanding Female Player Award from the Greater New Haven Soccer Officials Association. “We were thrilled to make it to the semis. All the hard work paid off this year.”
Dubuc was an impact player all four years for head coach Rob Huelsman.
“There were only a couple of instances where she missed time on the field,” Huelsman said. “Otherwise, she played every minute all four yeard. She didn’t want to come off the field, she was that determined. She’s got that mental toughness to compete whether it’s in soccer, in track or just conditioning herself.”
Dubuc will play soccer at the University of Tampa. She had committed there before her junior year and never wavered.
“As of right now, we are planning on a season. It could change any moment. I’m hoping everything is kind of normal when I go,” Dubuc said.
Owen is heading to run track at UConn. There was some debate last month whether that program would be one of those eliminated due to the university’s budget cuts (it wasn’t) following the 2020-21 season.
“When I saw (men’s) cross country got cut, I was really hoping track didn’t get cut along with it,” Owen said. “I can’t wait to get started training to get better, I’m super-excited.”
Said Gale: “He will do awesome things at UConn, I know that for a fact. Whatever he is able to participate in, he will be successful.”
The Register’s Athletes of the Year also look to be sharing one other thing in common: embarking on careers to help others.
Owen said he plans to major in Allied Health Sciences. He wants to become a physical therapist.
“I want to help others with injury prevention. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Owen said. “I don’t want to stop learning, even if there is a challenge along the way.”
Dubuc chose Tampa, in part, because of its nursing program. She already has become a certified nursing assistant.
“I’ve always been interested in the medical field. I once dressed up as a doctor for Halloween. I want to build that personal connection,” Dubuc said.