Darien girls track team set up for another strong season
The Darien girls indoor track team likes what it sees for the upcoming winter season.
While it did lose some veteran talent to graduation, the core group from last year's trifecta season, in which team won Class L State Championship, the FCIAC championship and the 2013 Girls Indoor Track Open, remains intact.
Darien is one of the elite girls track programs in the state having been named either champion or runner-up in the CIAC Class L State competition in each of the past 10 years. Additionally, Darien has won the FCIAC Eastern Championship 10 years in a row.
"The returnees know what's at stake, and they know how to get it done," said coach Steve Norris, who has been coaching for Darien, at one level or another, since 1977.
"I think one of our strengths is that we are good in all areas, especially in field events. We have a strong thrower, and we have some good hurdlers and high jumpers," senior co-captain Leah Hotchkiss said. "We have a little bit of everything."
That "little bit of everything" includes a dominant 4x200m team of Anna Sulger, Catherine Lacy, Madeleine Schneider, and Dillon Schoen who set a State Class L record time of 1:45:48 last year. All four girls return for this year's squad, "and we're looking to re-break the record," Lacy said.
Vaulters Jessica Thornbury and Schneider could also be formidable according to Norris.
"Maddie Schneider can be considered the second best vaulter in the state right now," Norris said. "And Jess Thornbury, our second vaulter, got a spot in the State open last year as well. They can get us big points."
The team will also look to Hotchkiss for supremacy in the high jump. Her high mark is 5'4," just two inches off the school record.
And in the long jump, Lacy already holds the Blue Wave record.
"She has to be considered the first in the state in the long jump right now," Norris said.
Meanwhile, Schoen ranks in the state in the 600 meters, and senior Taylor MacDonald has her eye on the school shot put record
With this abundance of talent, it is hard to find an Achilles' heel anywhere. The Wave did some key talent from last year's team to graduation, especially Grace Loh, who ran the 1,000 meter and sprint medley and placed in the State Open in both of those events. The team will also feel the absence of distance runners Kate Farren, Ellen Bauer, and Sarah Colon.
Still, the team is growing for the future.
"We have a relatively young team," senior co-captain Brittany Henry said. "The freshmen came in pumped; they really want to be here."
How these underclassmen will contribute to the team remains to be seen.
"I am trying to reach every kid, and I don't have a handle yet on whether or not we are going to get some unexpected help," Norris said.
"We hope to do what we did last year and come home with the triple crown," Hotchkiss said.