Bacon Academy track teams conclude succesful seasons

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Tue., May. 24, 2011
Pole vaulters Rob Cotten (left) and Zach Turek. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
Pole vaulters Rob Cotten (left) and Zach Turek. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

Both the boys’ and girls’ track teams from Bacon Academy were facing a somewhat unique situation after the ECC championships on Saturday, May 21.  Both teams then had to go out four days later and vie for at least a share of the medium division title, making up a postponed meet at Montville.  And while both coaches, Christine Taylor and Steve Browning, agree that Montville is a tough team to face, the fact they are even battling for the title represents the success that they have had this year.

“It’s been a fun team to work with,” said Browning, who has been coaching the boys’ team for 14 years.  He said the team “was very average,” going into the season, finishing 6th in the ECC indoor meet.  But “it’s been a very pleasant surprise.  It’s been a reasonably successful year,” he added, as indicated by the team's 6 – 1 record heading into Wednesday’s finale.

The team’s biggest win, said Browning, was at Windham.

“We had to beat them in all three relays in order to win the meet, which is very difficult.  It’s basically running the table on somebody,” he said.  In addition, his team didn’t have the best runners on the track, said Browning, “but we beat them with depth.”  Bacon ended up winning the meet by 5 points.

“We were very blessed to win that meet, and it’s given us a shot to run for something on Wednesday,” he said.

Although her team has a shot at a three-way tie with Plainfield and Montville for the division championship with a win on Wednesday, girls’ coach Christine Taylor, who is in her eighth year, said that she’s “not the kind of coach who pays much attention to the team record,” although she admits to being “pretty impressed with the team.”

“The wins aren’t as important as working with an individual kid and seeing them do really well for themselves.  That’s what I really love the most,” she said.

While the Bobcats have a strong athlete in virtually every event, having qualified an athlete for the state tournament in every event but two, the team depth is not as great as Taylor would like.

“Every event we can cover with a strong kid.  So we might win an event, but we get overwhelmed by the numbers they [competitors] have in each event.  But we cover each event quite well,” she said.

The throwing events are a particular strength of this year’s team, said Taylor, singling out sophomore Charisse Townsend.

“She’s our top thrower in discus and javelin.  She’s a very diligent worker,” said Taylor, adding, “I’m so happy she’s a sophomore now,” meaning that she will have two more years of one of her top athletes.

Hurdler and team captain Mary Hackbarth is one of the nine seniors that Taylor will lose after this season.

“She’s worked very, very hard, and her speed has gotten really good this year,” said Taylor.  But it is really her “awesome leadership” that Taylor will most miss.

“She will run an event for the team’s sake, even if it’s not where her heart is.  She’ll fill in anywhere I ask her,” she said.  

Browning stands to lose 14 seniors from this year’s team.  That, together with the school’s move up to the ECC large division, may make next year a little rough.

“I think long-term it will be good for us. But I think we may go through some growing pains all of next year,” he said, quickly adding that, even then, there can be no excuses and the work against the bigger teams will help prepare the team for the championship season.

“We do have some good kids coming back, so hope springs eternal,” said Browning.

One senior whom Browning will lose is pole vaulter and hurdler, Rob Cotten.  All-area in indoor track and probably in outdoor as well, according to Browning, Cotten won the pole vault at the ECC championships.

“Losing Rob is going to be tough.  He’s a great athlete,” said Browning.

Modestly, Cotten said that he owes his success to previous Bobcat athletes who took him under their wings and helped him excel at the sport he loves.

“The competitive drive comes later on.  I just do it because I love the sport,” said Cotten.

Similarly, Cotten is passing the torch to fellow pole vault state qualifier, Junior Zach Turek.

“I watch him [Rob] to learn how to get that few extra inches higher,” said Turek, who described his relationship with Cotten as being “like hanging out with your best friend and doing some pole vault.”

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