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The Westbrook boys’ and girls’ indoor track teams became outdoor track teams this winter. Both Knights’ squads earned fourth place in the Shoreline Conference South Showcase meets on March 20. (Photo courtesy of Sheridan Bauman )
The Westbrook boys’ and girls’ indoor track squads learned a lot about making adjustments this season.
Competing in the normal indoor fashion this season was a non-starter. There would be no Shoreline Conference Championship meet at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven with 12 teams huddling into one building during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, each squad was able to take part in the Shoreline Conference South Showcase and capped off a surreal year with fourth-place finishes for both teams.
Head Coach Sheridan Bauman knew this season’s challenges and made arrangements for her teams to condition and practice outside this winter, and while that isn’t ideal, Bauman knew it was the best case scenario for the Knights.
“We called it ‘outdoor is the new indoor.’ These kids came out for our season with no meets on the schedule. I wanted them to have the best experience possible,” says Bauman. “I knew right off the bat that we were going to be outside. It was the path of least resistance. We just wanted to be together. That really let us do our thing.
“I tried to go above and beyond in communicating how to run in cold weather and what gear to wear,” she continued. “Of course, we had a bunch of snow this year. So we even just went out and did some sledding. Whatever we could do to be together.”
Approval for holding meets between schools was given in early March, but the Knights decided to just focus on conditioning and honing their form. The only meet that Westbrook entertained attending was the Shoreline Conference South Showcase at the conclusion of the season.
“I looked at this season as a gift of time. Indoor normally feels like we have 10 practices, and then it’s meets. I looked at this season as an opportunity to work on technique. I think it really worked,” Bauman said. “It took the edge off without the meets. We just kept getting our training done with the idea that at least we would be in shape for outdoor. It was awesome. We made the best lemonade out of lemons. I thought this was the best season we could have asked for.”
In that final meet, the Westbrook girls’ squad scored 49 points to take fourth place overall, and the Westbrook boys’ team tallied 34 and also finished in fourth.
On the girls’ side, senior captain Elizabeth Gallagher won the 300-meter dash with a time of 44.80 seconds. Gallagher also joined fellow senior captains Brooke Neri, Marguerite Bartlett, and Cierra Brundage, as the anchor leg in the Knights’ 4x400 group that finished third with a time of 5:04.25.
Gallagher will be running Division I track and field for Loyola, Maryland in the fall, and she really showed her running prowess at Shorelines South.
Neri also sealed a first-place finish winning the 1,000 with a time of 3:37, shortly after helping the Knights’ 4x800 quartet of her, Brundage, Bartlett, and freshman Hannah Freund place second with a time of 11:56.90.
Sophomore Halley Pierson had a good day finishing third in the 55 with a time of 8.35, and she took the last scoring spot at sixth place in the 300 with a time of 51.21.
Also in the 55, Sophomore Mackenzie True took seventh place (8.88), senior Kiley McCarthy tied for ninth place (9.07), and sophomore Ava Kaluski came in 14th (9.52).
On the boys’ side, senior Luca Troop grabbed the gold in the 300 with a time of 38.70. Troop also scored some points for the Knights with a fifth-place finish in the 55, clocking in at 7.30.
Troop, senior captain Zach True, sophomore Hever Gomez, and fellow sophomore Carlos Rosado picked up some points finishing fourth in the 4x200 relay, clocking in at 1:48.12.
True also finished fourth place in the 300 with a time of 40.05, which was nearly three seconds faster than his season-best time from last season.
Senior captain Cole Strzelecki ran a personal record of 1:41 and place fourth in the 600 to outpace his best time of 1:53 from last year.
Senior Cooper Whitehouse finished in third place in the 1,000 with a time of 3:12.34.
Coach Bauman was impressed by her squad. There is obvious talent on the team, but there are also some competitors who don’t have that raw skill at their disposal. In those cases, Coach Bauman believes it their determination that makes them a big asset for the team.
“These kids are like my family, and I love getting as many kids [to] be a part of the team. Every single kid on the team scored points for us. That was our motto, ‘Keep showing up.’ You scored points because you ran it. You showed up,” Bauman said. “In a small school, you look for the talent like Elizabeth Gallagher and Luca Troop, but sometimes kids don’t know that they have it in them. You have to give them the chance. Sports are so great for that. They give you coping skills.”
For the Knights, it was a week off and then get ready for the actual outdoor track season. Many of the same indoor competitors are on the outdoor team, but some will be partaking in other spring sports instead. Coach Bauman and her staff fellow Co-head Coach Jordan Bean, Coach Brittany Cusano, and Katelyn Rickeby are excited to see these teams grow.
“We have 30 kids, and that seems huge right now. We’re figuring out events and what direction everyone is going in. We’re finding what’s working,” said Bauman. “The kids are going to benefit from this coaching staff. It’s exciting to see the team grow. We’ve been a thorn in the paw for some of these bigger schools, but our thorn might get a little bigger.”