Newtown High School’s girls’ and boys’ tennis teams kicked off the spring campaign this past week. The girls’ squad fell to host Weston 5-2 in the season opener on April 9, earned a rain-shortened 4-0 victory over visiting New Fairfield on April 11, and fell 4-3 at Bunnell of Stratford on April 14. The boys began play on the road against a tough Joel Barlow of Redding squad on April 9, and hung close in a 4-3 loss.
Coach Doug Russell goes into his 11th season as head coach of the Newtown High School girls’ track and field team with the same goals he’s always had: To win the South-West Conference and finish among the top ten in the state at the Class LL championships.
After spending the last two seasons competing in the Legends cars ranks at Waterford Speedbowl, Newtown’s Stephen Kopcik will become the newest member of the 2014 SK Light Modified rookie class at Stafford Motor Speedway this spring. Kopcik and his team recently acquired a Chassis Dynamics car that was a backup car for Ryan Preece at Thompson Speedway, and he will have Mike Paquette from CD Chassis helping him out with his chassis setup.
Registration for the 26th Annual ShopRite Nutmeg State Games, to be held July 12-27 in New Britain, is available online. There are openings for 22 individual and team sport offerings at www.nutmegstategames.org.
The Newtown Youth Basketball Association offers summer basketball programs. Visit newtownyouthbasketball.com to register. There will be two leagues with a limit of 40 participants per league and the cost is $95 per participant.
Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas … These are among the states that have been practically synonymous with big time college basketball for decades. Oh, and then there’s our state, tucked away in the Northeast corner, where major league baseball and professional football, hockey, and basketball were more popular than college hoops for many years. But things have changed in the past decade-plus here in the Nutmeg state.
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.
Sure, there’s always tough Pomperaug of Southbury, Bunnell of Stratford, and other formidable South-West Conference foes, but members of Newtown High School’s baseball team don’t really have to look any further than their own bench to find perhaps the biggest competition early on this campaign. Only three of members of the Nighthawks — pitcher Mike Davis, shortstop Virgil Procaccini, and catcher Austin Raftery — have varsity experience under their belts as the Nighthawks take to the diamonds this spring.
Experience proved to be beneficial for Newtown High School’s softball team when a strong roster of returnees improved on its previous season’s record with three more victories. Coming off a 13-7 regular season (11-4 in conference play) in 2013, this year’s version of the Nighthawks — also a familiar looking squad — hopes to again build off its previous season’s success. The Nighthawks, who fell in the quarterfinal round of the South-West Conference Tournament and in the second round of the Class LL state bracket, lost only two players to graduation. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they were key contributors: Courtney Escoda and standout Jess Gibbons, the latter of whom joined current Manhattan College senior Kate Bowen on the school’s short list of 100-hit club members.