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The Old Saybrook boys’ and girls’ indoor track teams recently finished up an unorthodox season that saw the teams compete in a Shoreline Conference South Showcase instead of the traditional championship meet. The girls’ team claimed first place at the meet with 160.5 points, while the boys’ team (not pictured) earned second place with 118 points. (Photo courtesy of Pete Capezzone )
The Old Saybrook girls’ and boys’ indoor track teams had unorthodox campaigns this year. Holding multiple events indoors was a logistical nightmare, but with some adjustments, many Shoreline Conference squads competed in showcases at the end of the season. The Rams’ girls’ claimed the top spot at the Shoreline Conference South Showcase meet, while the boys’ claimed runners’-up honors.
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the ability for teams to gather at the Floyd Little Athletic Center, where a Shoreline Conference Championship meet would normally take place. After a season of mostly practice and conditioning, the Shoreline Conference arranged for a postseason experience for indoor track athletes, though they were outside instead.
The logistics of the meet were that it was actually three separate dual meets to limit the possibility of bringing student-athletes from multiple schools into close proximity of each other simultaneously. So Valley Regional competed against Westbrook, Morgan competed against Lyme-Old Lyme, and the Rams were up against Hale-Ray.
Old Saybrook Head Coach Pete Capezzone felt grateful that his team had the chance to experience the South Showcase this season, even though it was strange compared to postseasons past.
“It’s a different experience entirely when you’re running by yourself and not against someone. It’s hard to measure where you are at. Some of these girls are behind by hundredths of a second, but would that have happened if they were running head to head?” said Coach Capezzone. “You have to beat somebody from another meet, and you don’t know if you’re there with them or not. There were situations where it could work better for some kids too, though. I think that showed up in some races. Like some of the freshmen didn’t have the same pressure of a big meet on them.”
The Old Saybrook girls’ indoor track team tallied 160.5 points total to claim that first place victory, which outpaced second-place Lyme-Old Lyme’s 106. The Rams’ boys’ squad scored 118 points total, behind first-place Lyme-Old Lyme’s 160 points.
Sophomore Avery Rueckert had a big day at the Showcase. She claimed first place in the 600-meter run with a time of 1:49.85 and second place in the 300-meter dash with a time of 44.86 seconds. Rueckert was also a part of the Rams’ 4x200 relay quartet that took second place. Rueckert, freshman Alex Benni, freshman Lauren Dobratz, and sophomore Maddie Beaudin turned in a time of 2:00.65 to earn silver.
Coach Capezzone appreciated the effort that Rueckert and her fellow underclassmen put in to get enough coverage in events to win the meet for the Rams.
“We asked Avery to run the 600, and she won it really easily. Then she ran the 300 a half hour later, but she was edged out by a girl from Westbrook. She took second in the 4x200,” said Coach Capezzone. “We had a conversation about what they needed to do to win the meet. Even though they are young, they have a veteran-type approach. They are mature in knowing what they need to do.”
Junior Caitlin Wiley claimed first place in the 3,200, clocking in at 14:22.98. Sophomore Catherine Minegar grabbed the gold in the 1,600 with a mark of 5:55.35, and she snagged silver in the 3,200 with a time of 14:22.99.
The 4x800 relay squad of senior captain Emily Stratton, Wiley, junior Molly Nygard, and sophomore Hannah McKeown claimed first place with a time of 11:32.21.
Sophomore Katelin Brady had a big showing in the high jump, taking first place with a height of 4 feet-8 inches. Fellow sophomore Maddie Beaudoin tied for second with a height of 4-6. Kate Molesky and Ashe cleared four feet and were tied in eighth place.
Coach Capezzone was impressed with the way that Brady conducted herself with the pressure on in the high jump.
“Katelin Brady won the high jump. She’s really taken off. She’s matured in a lot of ways in her different events,” says Capezzone. “She’s gotten a lot better as a jumper and how she prepares. It was down to the wire, she had two misses at 4-4, and she got smarter. The aggravation wasn’t fun in the moment, but it helped her I think.”
Senior captain Hannah Sumby also had a spectacular day, claiming first in the pole vault with a height of eight feet, taking second in the long jump with a distance of 14-3, and earning third in the 55 hurdles clocking in at 10.56.
The Rams claimed several points in the 55 hurdles besides Sumby’s third-place finish. Junior Avery Nosal took second place with a time of 10.29, sophomore Christina Grace earned fourth at 10.68, and Dobratz took fifth at 11.35.
Old Saybrook had good representation in the 1,000 with junior Wiley taking second with a time of 3:42.35, and fellow junior Nygard earning third place at 3:45.16.
The Rams took third in the sprint medley relay with McKeown, Nosal, Brady, and Ashe clocking in at 5:15.60.
Freshman Alex Benni took fifth place in the 55-meter dash with a time of 8.63 seconds, while fellow freshman Kelly Walsh earned eighth place with a time of 8.92. Freshman Shay Ostertag and junior McKenna Roberts tied for 16th place with a time of 9.72.
In the shot put, sophomore Lilah Spedding earned fourth place with a throw of 21-11, Brady took fifth with a toss of 20, and sophomores Annabelle Amara and Brianna Aspajo-Beriales tied for seventh with a distance of 19-9.5.
In the 300, Ashe took 11th with a time of 54.93 and Ostertag came in the 13th place at 57.31.
Coach Capezzone thought his teams’ youth and the lack of general meet experience this year made for a lot of stress on the underclassmen.
“It’s hard because there weren’t the meets under your belt to work out some of the glitches. Even just getting from one event to another, people are bouncing around,” said Capezzone. “We ask a lot of them. Just the logistics of talking to event officials to check in and check out can be a lot. We would have had eight meets to school a kid on how to do that stuff.”
On the boys’ side, the Rams had strong showings in the relays with a first-place finish in the sprint medley relay. The quartet of junior Mitchell DiPalma, junior Matt Johnson, freshman Parker Cook, and freshman Eliot Hurdis had the first-place time of 4:12.18. The 4x800 relay squad of sophomore Logan Worman, freshman Nwang Choegyal, senior captain Jack Wiley, and Cook earned first place with a time of 9:38.31.
The Rams 4x400 quartet of senior captain Jacob Schneider, Wiley, sophomore Tyler Milardo-Denler, and Worman earned second place with a mark of 3:51.47. DiPalma, Matt Johnson, Cook, and Hurdis brought home bronze in the 4x200 with a time of 1:42.97.
The Rams also picked up points in the long jump with Matt Johnson claiming first with a distance of 16-10. Junior Robert Johnson measure up at 16-3 for third place, and Bardth Thaci came in fifth with a leap of 13-3.
DiPalma claimed first place in the 55 hurdles with a time of 9.11, while freshman Hurdis took third at 10.5.
Freshman Nwang Choegyal had a nice day on the distance events with a second-place finish in the 3,200 with a time of 12:15.06, and took fourth in the 1,000 with a mark of 3:25.42.
Wiley came in second place in the 1,600 with a time of 5:01.23. Worman also snagged the silver in the 600 with a time of 1:35.87. In the 1,000, Schneider took second with a time of 2:52.45.
Meanwhile, junior Alex Gendron came in sixth with a time of 1:53.54.
In the shot put, Thaci took third with a heave of 28, while sophomore Aidan Gilson came in third place at 27.
In the 300, junior Nick Rothman claimed fifth place with a time of 40.55. Additionally, Rothman took sixth place in the 55 with a time of 7.31, while Gilson came in 13th with a time of 7.49, and Thaci placed 15th at 7.76.
Coach Capezzon knew that this season was going to be challenging regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic due to graduating some top-tier talent last year, but he’s been pleased his team’s resilience and talent. It’s onto the actual outdoor season now, and come next year, many of these kids will be shining even more brightly at meets.
“You need people and talent to cover areas in track to win meets. We did a good job considering we had about 20 boys, when we’re used to having about 35 to 55 kids,” Capezzone said. “I think next year will be a different ball game. They are a young team, and we only graduate two kids. In a pandemic year, our numbers were down. It’s understandable, but we still won the South Showcase with the girls, and the boys were second. It was a productive season.”