NFA girls' track picks up speed with young standouts
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Wed., May. 4, 2011
The Norwich Free Academy girls' track and field team can't afford to look back, though it's tempting.
Last year, the squad finished at the top of the ECC Large division and captured a third place overall at the State Class LL meet, with an overall record, including post-season, of 7-0.
But with the loss of nine key seniors to commencement 2010, the Wildcats are moving ahead with the considerable talent they still have.
“With the loss of some of the best track athletes in the state, we are looking to our returning athletes to lead the team to success,” said coach Kara Kochanski. “The team has some top newcomers from indoor [track], and we'll look to these girls to step up to the plate.”
The coach says her team's strength is in the running events, as well as long jump and triple jump. On the track, the distances are dominated by Brianna Lenihan, a sophomore, who as a freshman won fourth place in the ECC cross-country championships and has been tearing up the track ever since.
As for jumpers, seniors Wahnetah Carty and Adrianna Velazquez dominate in the long, and sophomore Brittany Grabill in the triple, which she did during indoor track season. Other consistent standouts include Allie Sullivan and Nicole Lorinsky, both returning juniors, in the pole vault, said Kochanski.
The team is bracing for some stiff competition from East Lyme, Fitch and Ledyard, Carty's old school. EL and Fitch are “both strong teams in the ECC and are well-rounded,” said Kochanski..
NFA head girls' track & field coach Kara Kochanski
Years coaching: 8
Has served as assistant track coach and assistant gymnastics coach.
The season ahead: Kochanski is looking to repeat last year's undefeated 7-0 season, which was capped by an ECC championship and third place at the State Class LL championship. “We hope to get as many girls in the ECC championships (May 21) as we can,” she said.
Sports Spotlight: Players to Watch-
Jessie Bodington, Junior, 100- and 200-meter hurdles: “Jessie is our top 100-meter hurdler,” said Kochanski. “She's very competitive and is a good role model to all the girls.”
Wahnetah Carty, Senior, long jump: “Wahnetah makes the team feel like family,” said her coach. “She came to us from Ledyard last year, and she really fit in well. She shows leadership and sportsmanship.”
Brianna Lenihan, Sophomore, distance events and relays: “Brianna's our top distance runner,” said Kochanski. “She runs cross-country and indoor track and she's very competitive. She was All-State in indoor track. And I have to say, she's a really sweet kid.”