Indoor track is growing by leaps and bounds

KEN MORSE CORRESPONDENT

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Excitement is brewing among the athletes on the Plainville indoor track team. The day after Christmas at 8am 23 showed up to for a practice to continue the hard work as the Blue Devils have achieved success in the season opening meet.

The Plainville indoor track team is growing by leaps and bounds going from 19 athletics last year to just over 54 this season under the direction of head coach Tim Shea and assistant coach Ryan Acey. According to Shea, it’s a group effort that starts at the top with Acey and Shea’s teamwork setting the benchmark for the whole squad.

“Having Ryan here who is the assistant cross country coach certainly helps us to further develop our distance runners,” said Shea. “We are just happy we can offer the athletes at Plainville another option to be involved in sports over the winter.”

Shea, who has over 20 years of experience coaching track, has been steadily building up the program over past few seasons, and this year’s group is loaded with accomplished athletes who are going to make a difference. The boys team is lead by a solid core of seniors Peter Diaz, Jen Wadehn and Andrew Sargis along with Alex Wynkoop and Francisco Rivera. The girls team is led by juniors Annie Roux, Emily Roy and Caitlin Charest.

“The program is growing, so it means we are doing something right,” said Shea. “Depth is a key to success—especially in track—and we have athletes who play other sports coming in here and using their skills to help develop the balance of this team.”

Wadehn earned boys soccer All-CCC honors for the Class M semifinalist and a four time All-Academic team. Junior Ryan Barker was a leading defensive end for the Blue Devils Class S semifinalist. Along with cross country juniors Jeremy Courtar and Jacob Demmons and sophomores Justin DeBellis and Owen Leander the Blue Devils have a leg up on the competition.

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The girls also have a diversified group with soccer sophomores Morgan Levesque and Katy Jeney and freshman Michelle Gryczewski. Cross country junior Emily Roy, softball junior Annie Roux along with freshman swimmers Olivia Sleszynski and Amber Klesitz add to the overall balance of the team.

“We already had two athletes qualify for the states after just our first meet,” said Shea. “Ryan Barker threw a personal best in the shot put at 41 feet, seven and half inches, placing fourth at the Hartford Public opener and Justin Emery qualified in the 55 meter dash finishing seventh at 7.11 seconds.”

Plainville is already showing sings that all the hard work is paying off. At the season opening meet at the Hartford Public Invitational on Dec 21 the 4 x 800 relay team of juniors Corey Rexinger, Darius Correa and Courtar along with sophomore Landon Cody raced to victory in a winning time of 9:15.

The sprint medley relay squad of Diaz, Correa, Rexinger and junior Emery also took first place with an effort of 4:11.22. Courtar also ran to an eighth place finish in the 600 meters. The 4 x 200 relay team of Emery, Diaz and juniors Jayden Barton and Aiden Payne took fourth at 1:45.37.

“We are off to a good start,” said Shea. “The kids are excited and working hard and they are bringing in other athletes to help build up the program.”

For the girls, Jeney just missed qualifying for the states in the 55 hurdles by three-tenths of a second, finishing sixth at 10.47. Levesque had a sixth place showing in the 1600m at 6:06.15, and Gryczewski finished in the top 10 twice missing states by six-tenths of a second in the 55 meter dash at 8.20 for 10th place out of a field of 125 competitors and another 10th place finish at 49.71 in the 300 meters.

“We had quite a few kids that are close or right at that number to qualify for states and last year we didn’t have that,” said Shea. “So it shows we are making progress. Jeney and Gryczewski just missed by a fraction of a second. That kind of success especially early on gets the kids excited.”

Plainville is scheduled to be back in action on Jan 8 at the Glastonbury Invitational.

“There are no dual meets. It’s all invitational meets, and the season goes quick,” said Shea. “The CCC meet is Feb 3, but this helps us to get ready for the outdoor season, as well. Morgan was a mile qualifier last year at outdoors, so we are coming up with a plan to help her develop in other events that will help her in the outdoor season.”