The Eastern Connecticut Conference championship meet was one of the many this high school outdoor track season that was hampered by the weather.
Originally scheduled for May 19 at East Lyme, the event had to be pushed back to May 23 because of heavy rain.
The Woodstock Academy girls’ track team finished with more points than the boys, but still finished 13th as a team while the boys placed 12th in the championship meet.
It was that weather and just the spring schedule as a whole that combined to make for a less than hoped for finish for the Centaurs girls’ team.
“We had a lot of kids miss almost two weeks of practice due to the trip to Greece, got hit by the illness bug late in the season, and weren’t able to get on the late season roll you really need to do well at (the) ECC (championship),” said Centaurs girls’ track coach John Ywarsky.
In his final season as head coach of the track team, Ywarsky saw Lindsey O’Dea post the best finish.
She tied for second in the high jump with Killingly’s Rachel Hultzman, but had to settle for third based on the number of jumps it took her to clear 4 feet, 10 inches. Allyson Lewis of Norwich Free Academy easily won the event when she cleared the bar at 5-8.
Sophomore Paula Hernandez was fifth in the javelin as she reached 100-feet in the event.
Junior Maddie Grube placed sixth in the triple jump (31-5) and ninth in both the 100-meter hurdles and long jump.
The 4 x 400 relay team of Olivia Majek, Kennedy Davignon, Eliza Dutson and Ashleigh Angle placed sixth at the championship.
Hannah Matsas was 19 seconds better than her best performance of the season and finished eighth in the 3,200 meter while ninth-place finishes went to Davignon in the 200-meter, Majek in the 400, Megan Gohn in the 1,600 meter and Julia Theriaque in the high jump.
“We had some good results. Paula Hernandez hitting 100 feet in the javelin; two of our freshmen (Emily McClure and Mallory Tyimok) setting personal bests in the 800 meter and our 4x400 team qualified for the Class L meet,” said Ywarsky.
Hernandez and O’Dea will be the highest seeds in the Class L meet for the girls, both will be seeded 11th.
Davignon also qualified individually in the 100 and 200 meter races as well as being a member of the 4 x400 relay team.
Angle qualified in the 300 meter hurdles, Grube in the long jump, Majek in the 400 and Dutson in the javelin.
“Being in Class L really hurts the girls,” said Ywarsky. “We’re just over the (Class) MM limit, so we’re in a class we don’t really belong in.  It hurt us in cross-country, where a team that finished in the top five in MM last year didn’t even break the top 15 this year, and I expect the same in (Class L outdoor track).  What I’m really hoping for are personal bests from the girls. It would be overzealous of me to think we could make waves at the class meet, but getting Ashleigh under 50 seconds in the 300 hurdles, Maddie over 15-6 in the long jump, and Hernandez to get over 100 feet in the javelin are all reasonable goals.  I think Olivia Majek has a shot at a sub-62 (seconds) 400 meters, she’s running very well right now and has established herself as a solid 400 runner.  Eliza Dutson will look to regain her form in the javelin. She was (over 90 feet) earlier this season, but a minor injury set her back and she’s struggled to get (past 80 feet) since.  A good performance at Class L would be great to catapult her into next year.”
The Centaurs lost their final regular season meet to Killingly, 89-51, on Friday.
For Ywarsky, he will hand over the girls’ cross-country program and girls’ track team to an unnamed successor following the Class L and possibly State Open championship meets, after five years at the helm.
“We had some early success in track. The second-place finish at the ECC championship in my first year (best ECC finish ever for the Woodstock girls) is something I’m proud of — it was ‘lightning in a bottle’ for us.  However, long term, track is an area where I’ve really struggled as a coach.  Over five years I’ve had to spread myself over almost every event, and I think it’s allowed some gaps to form.  It’s hard to develop a long-term plan for the program when I was coaching sprints one season, distance the next, and then back to sprints.  It’s really a reflection of this area of the state - there’s a shortage of coaches in event-specific areas,“ said Ywarsky.

Boys’ track
Mark Dumas and Natanael Colon finished third overall in their event for the Centaurs and won Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II individual titles at the ECC championship meet.
Colon finished in 51.92 seconds in the 400-meter, good for third behind Jason Walton of Plainfield (50.08) and Windham’s Anthony Titus (51.83), but it was the best among Division II competitors.
The senior also finished 12th in the 100-meter.
Dumas, also a senior, couldn’t catch Windham’s Nate Barbosa who tossed the shotput 50 feet, 4 inches. Cameron Belton of Norwich Free Academy was second at 48-8 followed by Dumas at 48-3 ½.
The only other Woodstock athletes to finish in the top 10 in their event was Connor Huda in the discus and Kenneth Birlin in the 1,600 meter. Huda finished sixth with a best throw of 116-03. Birlin had his best effort of the season, crossing the line in the 1,600-meter in 5:00.82, but it was only good for a 10th place finish.
“We thought that our athletes performed very well at the ECC meet. We were very proud of the team effort and the personal best results,” said Woodstock Academy boys' coach Pete Lusa. The Centaurs finished up the regular season May 25 with an 86-63 loss to Killingly in a meet that was rescheduled not once, but twice, and had to be run after the ECC championship meet.
“The season was one of the strangest we’ve seen,” Lusa added.  “The weather was by far the worst. In 25 years of coaching, we have never had to reschedule more than one meet (Woodstock had to postpone two meets this year, not counting the ECC championship reschedule), and never have we had to reschedule a rescheduled meet. The athletes were given strange circumstances to train at times. The coaching staff was pushed to the limit with trying to train athletes while the meet schedule was constantly changing. The boys and girls track teams are growing in strength and wisdom. Both teams were lacking a significant senior group. Next year we have large numbers of returning upperclassmen that should help the team.”
Only five athletes will take part in the Class MM boys’ state championship this week.
Colon qualified in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races. He is seeded ninth in the 400.
Dumas is seeded No. 5 in the shotput.
Huda will compete in the discus and shotput, Kyle Buell in the 100 meter and Eric Phongsa in the 200 meter.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director

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