Bellringer boys' track team is young and talented

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Hampton - posted Mon., Apr. 9, 2012
Patrick Zimny (left), Jeff Pratt and Brendan Schaller work on their relay race starts at a recent practice. Photos by Kevin Hotary.
Patrick Zimny (left), Jeff Pratt and Brendan Schaller work on their relay race starts at a recent practice. Photos by Kevin Hotary.

With a total of more than 100 boy and girl student athletes, last year’s East Hampton High School Bellringers track teams were, in the words of head coach Bill Wilkie, “huge.” Even better, the teams were loaded with seniors, nearly 30 in total.

“It made for an outstanding year,” said Wilkie, with the boys winning the Shoreline Conference championship. “But now, this year, we’ve got a lot of new kids,” he said. With about 95 athletes total, the team is still large. “But 40 of them are new,” said Wilkie. And in this case, “new” usually means that they have never participated in a competitive track and field event before.

“Very, very few kids come to our high school with track and field experience,” said Wilkie, although some run cross-country in middle school. “It’s a unique sport,” he said. Most high school coaches work to improve skills that kids have already learned. “The kids already know how to throw a ball, to catch a ball. They’re not teaching them to catch a ball that they’ve never caught before. Track coaches in general have to really start at the basics with new kids, and at the same time be able to challenge the more experienced kids,” said Wilkie.

So what does this mean for this year’s boys’ team? “We’re a pretty young team. Seniors may be the smallest class this year. But it’s looking good, we’ve had a really good two weeks [of practice],” said Wilkie. The boys finished fifth in the indoor season, but many more students have come out for the outdoor season.

This year’s boys’ team will be anchored by two seniors, Ben DeCrescente and Jeff Pratt. Pole vaulter DeCrescente was indoor champion the last two years, and runner-up last year in outdoor vaulting. “He’s definitely one of our top athletes. He’s got a shot at making New England’s this year,” said Wilkie. Of Pratt, Wilkie said, “He’s really motivated, really hard-working. He’s going to be one of the top competitors in our league in shot and discus.” 

For their part, both DeCrescente and Pratt said that they hope to lead their team to the Shoreline title, while reaching some personal goals as well. For DeCrescente, that means vaulting 14 feet. He’s already hit 13 and a half feet. For Pratt, it means setting a new school record for shot put. “I’m really trying to go as far as possible,” he said. 

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