Darien High School's girls track and field team members and coaches enter into the spring campaign looking to successfully defend the FCIAC's Eastern Division title, something coach Steve Norris expects his squad to accomplish, and contend for the overall conference crown.

Darien has won the division every year since 2005 and has been runner-up to overall champion Danbury each of the last three years. The Wave last captured the top honor in 2008. Norris believes there is no prohibitive favorite this year. He expects good competition from, as always, Danbury, along with Greenwich.

Windsor, last year's Class L state champs, is a strong favorite to capture the class crown once again, Norris said. Darien was fourth in the championship meet a year ago.

Darien is coming off a 10-1 season and will have to overcome losses of the following graduates: Elizabeth Crafford, Class L pole vault champion, now competing at William & Mary; Megan Keane, Class L 800 meter champion, now competing at Colgate; and Lee Bolton and Amanda Dobler, both strong performers at the Class L meet.

This year's captains are senior pole vaulter Katie Southworth; Claire Gaffney who is a strong 400 meter runner and was sixth place finisher in last year's FCIAC triple jump competition; sprinter Sherry Gilronan; middle distance runner Katie Donovan; and Victoria Kominek, a javelin thrower who was fourth in FCIAC and fifth in the state.

Other key team members whom Norris will look to for postseason points are seniors Niya Wright, last year's sixth-place finisher in the FCIAC shot-put competition; junior Grace Loh, the school record holder in the 1000 meter run; and sophomores Phoebe Taylor, fifth-place javelin thrower in the FCIAC, Leah Hotchkiss, CIAC indoor Class L high jump champion in the winter, and Catherine Lacy, Darien's top scorer last year. Lacy is the team's best sprinter and school record-holder in the long jump at 17-9, Norris notes.

"Our primary strength is the jumps," said Norris, adding that Darien expects to make great progress in the distance races given the volume of winter indoor track girls who made postseason standards.

Gilronan, who runs the 100, 200, and is part of the 4x100 relay group, is enthusiastic about the start of the season.

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"I have high expectations. We have a lot of girls on this team. We have a lot of quality runners," she said.

Gilronan is striving to qualify for the state championship in all of her events. Her goal for the team is to overtake Danbury for the FCIAC title.

"That would be so cool," she said. "I feel like we're very close to them this year."