SWHS girls' track team ready to leap to new heights
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Apr. 15, 2011
Last year, the South Windsor High School girls’ track and field team tied for third place in the conference. Several key team members are returning, including senior Alisha Barrett, who won the Randy Smith Invitational with a 95 foot javelin throw; co-captain Alex Shaw, a leading hurdler; junior Jennifer Dean who does well in both the throws and high jump; and sophomore Maddie O’Brien, who placed strong in pole vaulting last year.
Coach Chris Bowman has been with the team for four years. He first likes to have the athlete say in which events she is interested, and then he tests the individual abilities, in order to reach a joint decision on which event is best for each girls. “I’ve got a good group of kids, and hard workers,” said Bowman.
With his many years of experience as a pole vault coach, he is especially pleased that he has several pole vaulters who are expected to qualify to compete in the state tournament. “We’re also strong in the throws,” he added.
“I think we’ll be competitive against Manchester and Wethersfield,” said coach Bowman, “and we should win the rest.” The 56-member team consists of 12 seniors, 16 juniors, 16 sophomores and 12 freshmen. Bowman noted that freshmen Katie Zalaski and Jessica Graff both show promise in the 1600-meter race.
Senior Cheyenne Genga is co-captain, along with Alex Shaw. Genga is a sprinter, running the 100 and 200 meter races, as well as the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays. “I just like to run,” said Genga. She feels the 200 meter race is her strongest event because she races her full speed. Genga said she enjoys track because it is both a team sport and an individual sport at the same time, and she likes the competition. She also finds that, by having fewer competitions during the season, she is more motivated to push harder. She also said Bowman is a motivational coach with years of experience.
Junior Kirsten Warner started pole vaulting just last year. “I didn’t even expect to get into pole vaulting,” she explained. She was encouraged to try it because of her gymnastics experience. She found she liked pole vaulting because of the height and the extremeness of the sport. Warner has already qualified to compete in this year’s tournament. “I want to get over 9-6,” she explained about her pole vaulting goals, “to tie or break the school record.” She also does the triple jump.
Taylor Przybylski took first place in the conference last year, as a junior, and also tied the school record. “My goal this year is 10 feet,” said Przybylski, whose highest jump last year was 9-6. “I’ve always got to shoot for higher.” In order to reach that goal, she knows that she needs to stay focused, keep practicing and do a lot of abdominal work. “You have to be fit all around.”
“We’re so close on our little pole vault team,” said junior Katherine White. The pole vaulting team did not loose any seniors to graduation last year, and there are no seniors on the team this year. White saw an improvement of almost one foot last year, and is hoping to qualify for the state competition this year. She recognizes that she needs to work on running faster and learn not to stop short.
Defending state open champion high jumper senior Preethi Vaidyanathan is looking to add four inches to her best high jump this year. She tied the school record last year with a jump of 5-4. Vaidyanathan is the only senior on the high jumping team, and noted that there are a couple freshmen and sophomores who are just learning the high jump and who look promising. “It’s very, very technical,” she said about her event. It requires repetitive practicing to fine tune one’s form, making improvements through incorporating small details. She is currently focusing on her lift off.
Senior Kelly Pantason was disappointed in her season last year as a mid-distance runner in the 800 meter race and the 4X800 meter relay. She is thinking of adding the 1600 meter race as another event this year. Pantason said she worked hard over the off season, including soccer and running, in attempt to improve her times this season. Her goal is to run the 800 meter race, which is two complete laps around the South Windsor High School track, in 2:30. In order to accomplish this, she is working on her “splits,” a pacing technique for each 200 meter section.
The seniors on the South Windsor High School girls’ track and field team are: Ana Balboni, Alisha Barrett, Cheyenne Genga, Stephanie Greenman, Michelle Keilich, Lexie Kenny, Maggie LaBelle, Jenna Marinelli, Kelly Pantason, Alex Shaw, Preethi Vaidyanathan and Katie Walker.