Fermi track team sets its sights on ‘states’

By Tom Phelan
Enfield - posted Sun., Feb. 6, 2011
The boys’ and girls’ indoor track teams is close-knit group, and are invested in the important aspects of a successful program. Photos by Dan O’Connell. - Contributed Photo

Coach Dan O’Connell has good feelings about his High School indoor Track team’s esprit de corps. “Our leadership is by committee, and as a result, everyone feels connected,” he said. The veteran coach said the team has met its goals, because it has consistently been a hard-working, happy group.

Our season has been upbeat and productive. We started the Monday after Thanksgiving with a mixed group of veterans and a bunch of new faces,” he said. “We stressed the importance of consistent effort at practice, and began to build a sense of team. This year’s group is closer than last year’s team, and, as a whole, bought into the many aspects of a successful program better than the last few years.”

The Falcons took advantage of any opportunity they could to work outside frequently until mid-January. According to O’Connell, the payoff has been apparent, with a good number of athletes taking their performances to a new level. “Having athletes commit to our program’s expectations, and then see them accomplish things they didn’t know they could, is a great part of high school athletics,” said O’Connell last week.

At the CCC Championships in New Haven in late January, Fermi’s runners had an overall good performance. Courtney Ryder took first place in the high jump, Rachel Van Gilder ran fourth in the 55-meter dash, and the boys sprint medley relay group of Mike Nguyen, Anthony O’Connell, Steve Rabida-Smith and Max Partyka finished fourth. Two relay teams broke Fermi school records – the girls’ 4 x 400 relay team (Melissa Hallas, Larissa Brown, Katie Saltzgiver and Rachel Van Gilder) and the boys’ 4 x 200 team (Mike Nguyen, Anthony O’Connell, Garrett Guimond and Steve Rabida-Smith).

The same athletes who competed at the CCC meet will compete at the state tournament on Feb. 11 at Hillhouse High School. In addition, Karin Byrne will compete in the high jump and Anthony O’Connell in the long jump, Shelby Pulyado and Mike Nguyen in the 55-meter dash, and Garrett Guimond in the 55-meter hurdles. O’Connell believes Van Gilder and Ryder are the best bets to score in individual events. “The athletes are very upbeat after [the CCC] performances,” said O’Connell, “and we expect another good day at states.”

The future also looks bright for the Falcons’ track program. There has been an infusion of young talent, including four members of the highly-successful cross-country program at JFK Middle School. O’Connell expects the indoor and outdoor track programs to have excellent seasons over the next few years as a result of his team’s talent, attitude and recent success.

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