Fairfield's two public high school girls outdoor track and field teams have enough talented returning athletes at their disposal to maintain or surpass last season's winning records and impressive showings in championship meets.
Kelly Renna, a boys track assistant coach indoors and outdoors for the Falcons for two years, is the new head coach for Ludlowe's girls team. She has coached middle school track and cross country for six years. Seniors Alex Wykoff, Kate O'Shea and Ali Johnson and junior Kelly Walsh are the captains for the Falcons, who were 7-5 in the dual meet season last year.
Renna has been impressed with her athletes' camarderie, dedication and willingness to work hard, she said. "This particular group is exceptionally talented and understands that with hard work, they can make great things happen this season," she said. One of her goals this season will be to develop more depth in the field events.
Wykoff is an outstanding hurdler who was third last year in the conference meet in the 100-meter hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles. In Class LL, she placed fifth in the 100 and 13th in the 300. Junior Emma Koether will run sprints, the 400 and relays. She was fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 in last spring's FCIAC Championships, and placed 15th in the State Open 200, after finishing eighth in Class LL.
O'Shea was 10th in the FCIAC triple jump a year ago. Junior Emily O'Keefe tied for third in the conference high jump in 2013 and placed in a tie for sixth in the event in the state meet. Senior Annie Moeder qualified for the FCIACs in the javelin, and Walsh qualified in the 1,600 for the Class LL Championships last spring. Johnson qualified in the 100-meter dash for the Class LL meet.
Koether, junior Rachel Hurst and Johnson were in the 4-by-100-meter relay last year that placed third in the FCIACs and eighth in Class LL. Freshman Brianna Auray, who will run the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, finished second in the FCIAC Central indoor track championships in the 1,000 and third in the 3,200 during the winter.
The Falcons tied for sixth among 16 teams at last spring's FCIAC championship meet and placed 17th of 23 scoring teams in the CIAC Class LL Championships.
The season opens Wednesday at Warde at 4 p.m. in a meet with the Mustangs. Harding and Bassick.
Only three key performers from the Mustangs' 2013 team that finished 11-2 in the dual meet season have been lost through graduation. Warde was seventh of 23 scoring teams in last spring's CIAC Class L championship meet, following an eighth-place finish out of 16 at the FCIAC Championships. The ingredients might be in place, in eighth-year coach Shawn Sorbello's view, for the Mustangs to take the next step toward even more success this spring.
Sorbello, whose career record is 72-23, will rely on six seniors and three juniors with a track record of success to lead the Mustangs this year.
"Our seniors are hungry and have been working hard for four years," Sorbello said. "They began event specialization early in their careers, and we expect them to capitalize on that process this season. We seem to do well from the 400 (meters) on up, but for the 100 and 200, there still exists a lot of work and the right personnel to come our way."
Senior Cate Allen, who will run middle and long distance events, has earned All-State recognition multiple times, Sorbello said. She owns several event records at Warde. Allen is the defending conference champion at 800 meters; she was third in that event in the Class L Championships last year and the champion in the 1,600. Allen took third place in the State Open 1,600.
Senior Blossom Jean-Jacques tied for sixth at the FCIACs in the high jump, and tied for 10th in Class L. Rachel Maltz, a 12th-grader, is Warde's leading performer in the long jump, triple jump, javelin and discus. Senior Erika Leppla, the school record-holder in the pole vault, tied for fifth in the FCIAC pole vault last spring and tied for seventh in the state meet. She is a hurdler as well. Senior Zoe Robbin and juniors Stephanie Sheehan and Heather Gans hold Warde's hurdling records. Sheehan is making the transition from indoor track.
Quinn Igram, an 11th-grader, was 15th in Class L in the indoor 1,000 this winter and 22nd in the Class L 800 last spring. Senior Paige Hanley, who placed sixth in the FCIAC 800 and 11th in Class L, and Allen were part of the 4x400 relay in 2013 that was third in the FCIAC, fourth in Class L and seventh at the State Open. Hanley and Igram were part of Warde's indoor 4x800 relay that placed third in the Class L Championships.
The season opens Wednesday at home at 4 p.m. in a meet with Ludlowe. Harding and Bassick.
No report on Notre Dame is contained because a request to submit information on the team by the coach was not received in time.