Newtown High School’s boys’ track and field team is led by a new coach as Tom Brant takes the lead role. Brant, who was involved with coaching the winter indoor track squad, has high hopes for improvement this spring based on what he saw during the winter campaign. That and the fact there is much more depth to this year’s lineup with the roster size increasing from 42 team members to 72.
Last spring, the Nighthawks placed tenth in the South-West Conference meet and were 17th in the Class LL state championships.
Brant is striving for his group to be among the top five in the SWC and improve on last year’s state meet outcome. And why not? The indoor squad managed a sixth-place outcome in the conference, despite not a single distance runner qualifying for the big meet.
To make these goals a reality, the mission is to get more sprinters, distance runners, throwers, jumpers, and pole vaulters qualified for the postseason, all the while developing younger competitors to prepare them for future seasons.
To accomplish that mission, “we’re really trying to rebuild the program and rebrand it,” Brant said.
The rebuilding aspect is somewhat taking care of itself with the influx of participants. The rebranding comes into play with a new approach directed by Brant and with the help of a group of new assistants, shared between Brant and Doug Russell, coach of the girls’ squad. Bob Gendreau and Taylor Marino will work with the distance runners, and Liz Linfante is a new throwing coach.
Brant pointes out that the teams trained separately last year, and a decision was made in the offseason to promote assistants working with both genders to make for better preparation.
The coach said the athletes had a say in the process of selecting a new coach and he’s honored that they helped choose him.
Captains are seniors Matt Mossbarger (sprints), Sam Boland (sprints, hurdles), Kevin Gorman (jumps), Jimmy Leidlein (sprints, jumps), Nate Steinebrey (distance), and Eli Klorczyk (throws).
Other team members who stand to be among the postseason point-getters are senior sprinters Tristan Pears and Wesley Morlock, junior distance runners David Csordas and Joey Whelan, sophomore jumper/ sprinter Cole Terry, and sophomore distance runner Ethan Burg.
Newtown lost plenty of distance runners, led by standout Jake Feinstein, to graduation a year ago. Also gone are Mitch Russo, Paul Mangiafico, and Rob Russo. Thrower Ralph Stroccia and sprinter/thrower Anthon Paggett also leaves shoes to fill.
Weston, Bunnell of Stratford, and New Fairfield, as has been the case in recent years, are among the better teams in the conference. Brant believes his team can make some noise come the postseason.
“I think we have an opportunity to be something very special,” he said.
The boys get things started with an April 22 visit to Pomperaug of Southbury for a meet with the host Panthers, along with Immaculate of Danbury, and Oxford, which will begin at 4 pm.