H-K’s Track Squads Defend Conference Crowns
Last season, Haddam-Killingworth’s boys’ and girls’ outdoor track teams both won the Shoreline Conference title for the first time in the program’s 45-year history. While it took four decades for it to happen once, the Cougars made sure it didn’t take long for the repeat as each of H-K’s track teams finished in first place once again at this year’s Shoreline Conference Championships.
The 2022 Shoreline Conference Championship meets took place at Old Saybrook High School on May 25. On the boys’ side, the Cougars scored 136 points to finish ahead of runner-up Coginchaug and take the league title for the third year in a row. H-K was bolstered by first-place finishes from senior captain Aidan Law in the long jump (21-2.75), junior Orion Inkel in the triple jump (41-3.5), and junior Alexander Lara placed in the 800 (2:00.69) at the meet.
The H-K girls’ team saw junior Leah Sosnowski earn a first-place finish in the 300 hurdles (50.64) on its way to claiming the Shoreline crown for the second-consecutive year. Sosnowski’s victory, combined with several other solid performances, helped the Cougars score 157 points and beat out second-place East Hampton (136.5) for the top spot in the standings.
In addition to winning the long jump, Law finished second in the 800 (23.07) and placed third in the 100 (11.52) for H-K at Shorelines. Senior captain Caleb Freeman finished second in both the 1,600 (4:37.54) and the 3,200 (10:16.55), while sophomore Andres Montes took second in triple jump (39-11.25). Senior Andrew Hedges finished third in both the 1,600 (4:41.11) and the 3,200 (10:34.77), and fellow senior Jared Frith claimed third place in the pole vault (11-6).
H-K’s 4x400 relay team of Alexander Lara, junior Jayden Fulton, senior captain Kevin Cavrell, and freshman Matthew Lara finished in third place (3:37.13) at the conference meet. The Cougars’ 4x800 relay of Freeman, Hedges, freshman Matthew Lara, and Alexander Lara also finished third (8:25.57).
Head Coach Matt Diglio knew that H-K would be in for a battle against Coginchaug with the Shoreline title at stake. Diglio said that everyone stepped up as the Cougars received crucial contributions from a variety of athletes in different events on their way to attaining the three-peat.
“We did well. We knew it was going to be a tough battle against us and Coginchaug. The kids performed really well,” Coach Diglio said. “We got contributions all around, from our sprinters to our distance runners. It was a team effort.”
For the girls’ team, Sosnowski’s victory in the 300 hurdles was complemented by her third-place performance in the 100 hurdles (17.22) at Shorelines. Senior captain Scarlett Strom finished second in both the discus (88-4) and the javelin (88-11) for H-K. Fellow senior captain Ly-Linh Criscuolo took second place in the long jump (15-8) and was third in the triple jump (33-1). Junior Isabel Beradino finished second in the 1,600 (5:46.12) and placed third in the 3,200 (12:34.53).
Senior Jessica Timothy claimed third place in the long jump (15-6.75) and the high jump (4-10) to help the Cougars win their second-straight title. Senior Brianna Nugent took third in the 300 hurdles (51.98), while sophomore Mariella Fulcher placed third in the 100 (13.63) for Head Coach Dick Dupuis’s squad.
H-K’s 4x100 relay team of junior Leah Chester, Criscuolo, Fulcher, and freshman Adriana Garoppolo finished in second place (52.71) at the Shoreline meet. The 4x400 relay of senior captain Brianna Minervino, Nugent, Sosnowski, and Fulcher took second place (4:18.68); while the 4x800 relay team of Beradino, freshman Olivia Macaluso, Minervino, and senior Charlotte Selmer (10:15.02) also finished in second.
Entering this year, both of H-K’s track teams had graduated a number of talented athletes from last season. Diglio said that he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the girls’ squad. However, with several new members contributing and the seniors competing at the top of their game, the Cougars didn’t miss a beat and were able to take home the conference crown for the second year in a row.
“We lost a lot of talent from last year. Going into the season, we didn’t know what we had on the girls’ side,” said Diglio. “We have had a lot of nice surprises. There were some new girls coming out for the first time, and the older girls stepped up.”
Last year, H-K displayed how many talented athletes are on both teams during the Cougars’ groundbreaking campaign. Coach Diglio said that repeating as dual champions showed how all the hard work and dedication from everyone in the program was certainly worth it.
“They did it for the first time last year. To replicate it is a really special feeling. It’s great to celebrate a boys’ or girls’ victory, but to be able to do it together is really special for both groups,” Diglio said. “They worked really hard all season. Our great coaches helped them get there. For those not competing at states, this was their last meet. To cap it off with a win is very special. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Coach Diglio felt that H-K’s versatility was the biggest factor behind defending both trophies. On both the boys’ and girls’ teams, athletes are not just asked to perform, but to excel in multiple areas. It’s an attribute that has helped the Cougars develop into a standout program.
“It’s something that we always try to pride ourselves on, to not just cover events, but to cover them well,” said Diglio. “We preach versatility and to do multiple events, not just specializing in one area. To be a successful team, you have to cover all of the events and do it well. We always pride ourselves to be competitive in all areas.”
H-K’s boys’ and girls’ track teams both went 8-0 during the regular season this spring. Coach Diglio said the Cougars used the dual-meet season to grow as a program and prepare themselves for the postseason meets. H-K demonstrated that it was ready for the championship season with its performance at Shorelines. Now, the Cougars will get another chance to shine at a big-time meet when they compete in the Class M State Championships this week. The boys’ team took first place at last year’s state meet.
“We’re going to put kids in their best events and give them an opportunity to be successful individually to either earn a medal, go All-State, or qualify for the State Open. The team points will come with that,” Coach Diglio said. “We hope to be scoring points and be competitive. But we want to focus more on the individuals and relay teams.”
Along with Diglio, the H-K outdoor track program’s coaching staff includes Dupuis, who is the girls’ head coach and works with the vaulters; Sean Gallagher, who works with the throwers; and Evan Woicik, who works with the sprinters and jumpers. The Cougars also have a volunteer coach in Kristie Kaminski, who Diglio said has proved crucial to the program’s success.