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Spring Sports Preview

Frontier looking up; Senators loaded

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Frontier sophomore Katherine Conlisk of the productive Conlisk twins is a versatile member of a Red Hawk team looking to overtake South Hadley this season. Conlisk is shown throwing the javelin, above, but she is also a competent sprinter and jumper.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Frontier sophomore Katherine Conlisk of the productive Conlisk twins is a versatile member of a Red Hawk team looking to overtake South Hadley this season. Conlisk is shown throwing the javelin, above, but she is also a competent sprinter and jumper.

  • Recorder/Mike Phillips<br/>Prcocious Mahar sophomore Aly Parker can do it all for the high-powered Senators.

    Recorder/Mike Phillips
    Prcocious Mahar sophomore Aly Parker can do it all for the high-powered Senators.

  • WESTFIELD, MA (June 1, 2013) - MIAA All State Track Championship Meet held at Westfield State University. Kat Miner, sophomore from Frontier Regional School. High Jump event. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    WESTFIELD, MA (June 1, 2013) - MIAA All State Track Championship Meet held at Westfield State University. Kat Miner, sophomore from Frontier Regional School. High Jump event. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • Mohawk senior Ashley Pierce (Phillips)

    Mohawk senior Ashley Pierce (Phillips)

  • Mahar sophomore Aly Parker (Phillips)

    Mahar sophomore Aly Parker (Phillips)

  • Pioneer freshman Victoria Laskoski (Phillips)

    Pioneer freshman Victoria Laskoski (Phillips)

  • Pioneer senior Sydney Martin (Phillips)

    Pioneer senior Sydney Martin (Phillips)

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Frontier senior Clare Cycz clears the bar in the high jump at Frontier on Tuesday.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Frontier senior Clare Cycz clears the bar in the high jump at Frontier on Tuesday.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Frontier sophomore Kat Miner clears the bar in the high jump on Tuesday at Frontier

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Frontier sophomore Kat Miner clears the bar in the high jump on Tuesday at Frontier

  • Mahar sophomore Aly Parker (Phillips)

    Mahar sophomore Aly Parker (Phillips)

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Frontier sophomore Katherine Conlisk of the productive Conlisk twins is a versatile member of a Red Hawk team looking to overtake South Hadley this season. Conlisk is shown throwing the javelin, above, but she is also a competent sprinter and jumper.
  • Recorder/Mike Phillips<br/>Prcocious Mahar sophomore Aly Parker can do it all for the high-powered Senators.
  • WESTFIELD, MA (June 1, 2013) - MIAA All State Track Championship Meet held at Westfield State University. Kat Miner, sophomore from Frontier Regional School. High Jump event. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • Mohawk senior Ashley Pierce (Phillips)
  • Mahar sophomore Aly Parker (Phillips)
  • Pioneer freshman Victoria Laskoski (Phillips)
  • Pioneer senior Sydney Martin (Phillips)
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Frontier senior Clare Cycz clears the bar in the high jump at Frontier on Tuesday.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Frontier sophomore Kat Miner clears the bar in the high jump on Tuesday at Frontier
  • Mahar sophomore Aly Parker (Phillips)

Outdoor track and field is starting to benefit from its winter counterpart.

Many area athletes from the indoor arena have continued in the sport this spring and will compete in the fresh air.

Frontier Regional School hasn’t started an indoor track program, but the Red Hawks haven’t needed it; their roster has averaged more than 50 per year for the past decade or more. There are 51 girls out for the defending Central/Western Massachusetts Division II team champions, who didn’t win a league title for the first time since 1997 and had their 107-meet winning streak snapped last spring, as well as a Suburban League wining streak of 20.

Five of the six teams in the Franklin County League have retained good numbers, but the top two teams from last year could end up staying that way with the biggest turnouts thus far. League champion Mahar Regional School opened the preseason with 47 girls, while runner-up Mohawk Trail Regional High School started with 42.

Pioneer Valley Regional School has enough talent to compete, but key losses to graduation could leave the Panthers a bit short. Athol and Greenfield high schools have a little more depth, but are still seeking a few more top performers who can earn critical points. Turners Falls High School, the lone school without an indoor team, is in a rebuilding mode, with just six returning veterans and the league’s smallest roster.

In addition to winning the league, Mahar also snapped the Warriors’ 20-meet league winning streak. The last time Mohawk had lost a FCL meet was to aforementioned former rival Frontier on May 5, 2009.

A new event added to all postseason meets is the pentathlon. It will make its debut in the PVIAC Division II Championships on May 24.

Here’s a closer look at the area’s entries:

Suburban League

Frontier

The Red Hawks shook off their first dual-meet loss in nearly 17 years by winning the C/WMass Division II crown, and head coach Bob Smith’s roster is equally fortified with 33 returning athletes.

Although the veteran coach tabbed defending champion South Hadley High School as the favorite a stellar indoor season, Frontier will undoubtedly give the Tigers a battle.

Smith will need to replace graduated star performers such as Natalie Mako, Amanda Mozea and Emilie Cycz, among others, but depth has never been a Red Hawk issue. Quality depth, however, could be the determining factor in their ultimate success as a team.

“It’s going to be a really tough year,” said Smith. “We’ve got some good athletes but don’t have those (veteran) athletes you can send to the line and know good things are going to happen.”

The Red Hawks return seven girls who recorded top-10 finishes in the sectional meet.

Senior Mairead Ferry was the most decorated of the bunch, placing second in the 400-meter low hurdles, tied for second in the pole vault and took third in the 100 high hurdles.

Sophomore Katherine Miner was equally impressive with a runner-up spot in the 200 meters and a fourth in the high jump.

Senior Clare Cycz (sprints, jumps), junior Kimmi Logan (sprints, pole vault, triple jump), sophomores Katherine Conlisk (hurdles, jumps) and Sarah Conlisk (hurdles, jumps), and freshman Jaime Byrne (pole vault, throws) also earned top-10s, giving Smith a solid nucleus of returning talent.

The Red Hawks also have a solid group of upperclassmen, which includes seniors Taryn Marquis (distance), Chloe Nunn (distance), Brenna Sicard (sprints, jumps) and Hannah Woodring (sprints), and juniors Jackie Spencer (distance), Hannah Austin (throws), Alyssa Hammond (throws) and Sabrina Westgate (mid-long distance).

Miner and the Conlisk sisters headline a loaded sophomore class, which includes Remi Quesnelle (sprints, jumps), Savannah Emery (distance), Zoe Barker (hurdles, sprints), Caitlin Burnett (distance), Megan-Grace Slocombe (throws), Ashlyn Richardson (sprints), Katherine Burke (sprints), Danielle Corey (throws), Emily Wood (distance), Madie Price (sprints), Grettle Allis (sprints) and Izzy Contois (throws).

Olivia Warren (jumps, sprints) is the only other returning freshman, while Sage Bourbeau (sprints, jumps), Laura Franceschi (jumps, sprints), Grace Randall (sprints), Angela Self (sprints, jumps, throws) and Greyson Young (distance) are the returning eighth-graders.

Newcomers include junior Noemi Di Muro (distance, throws), freshmen Elisa Desmarais (hurdles, jumps), Morgan Farrick (sprints, throws), Raili Sharp (mid distance, jumps) and Tazah Garcia (sprints, jumps), and eighth-graders Michelle Borcy (sprints, jumps) and Xena Wildman (throws), and seventh-graders Marisella Ackerman, Fiona Ferry, Hannah Kantor, Eleanor Klitzke, Emily Laus, Jenna Martin, Paige Moriarty, Isabel Pacheco, Ivy Shattuck and Meghan Waldron.

“I don’t know how all the other teams are, but I think South Hadley is completely loaded, their indoor season was incredible.”

“The key (for us) is to find someone in 400 meters, someone in the shot, and someone to take up slack in mile and two-mile and keep us competitive,” said Smith. “We’re going to be fine in the high jump, discus, javelin, pole vault and hurdles.”

Franklin County League

Mahar

The Senators had a historic 2013, becoming the first team not named Frontier or Mohawk to win the league, and recording a solid third-place finish in the C/WMass D-II meet. That success led to the league’s biggest roster, making things easier for head coach Sarah Woodward.

Mahar still needs to replace three graduated veterans, including the area’s best thrower, Sabrina Silv, but the Senators return arguably the league’s best athlete in sophomore and Aly Parker, who captured the pole vault and garnered a runner-up long-jump finish. Caitriona Cronin, a senior, is another highly touted performer, with a sectional top-10 finish in the javelin.

Four other seniors provide the leadership for Mahar. They include Kelsie Bardsley (sprints, jumps), Elizabeth Currie (throws), Amber Meehan (distance) and Lyndsay Paluk (throws).

Tiffany Tenney (sprints, jumps) is the only new junior on the outdoor team, but she had a successful indoor season and Woodward hopes she can continue that success this spring. Hannah Boyd (throws), Colleen Burke (sprints, jumps, 400 hurdles), Amber Colon (distance), Sabrina Ladeau (throws), Amber Bonk (sprints, jumps), Caroline Burbine (sprints), Kelly Costa (throws), Amber Plante (sprinter) are the returning 11th-graders.

Parker is one of eight sophomores with experience, along with Meghan Doyle (distance), Ashley Ehlen (throws), Carly Jillson (sprints), Faith Latwis (distance), Quiana Rivera (hurdles, jumps), Sophia Wetherbee (hurdles) and Caroline Grutchfield (mid-distance).

Cadie Jillson, a precocious freshman, joins the squad for the first time and looks to make an impact in the jumps, pole vault, mid-distance and distance events. Classmates Cassidy Verheyen (distance, jumps), Kelsey Killay (mid-distance, jumps), Lauren White (throws) and Jewel Crosby (throw) are also back.

Eighth-graders who have a year of experience are Samantha Rowe (distance), Erin Sandova (hurdles), Calista Sawin (sprints, jumps), Katie Cleveland (sprints, jumps), Courtney Lawton (throws) and Kirsten O’Brien (sprints, jumps).

Newbies include eighth-graders Ava Paine (mid-distance, jumps), Talia Fountain, Lindsey Watson and Cassidy Layton, and seventh-graders are Jeanne Grutchfield, Leah Allen-Newman, Sophia Apteker, Abby Bonk, Mollie Burke and Shyann Perkins.

“I’m super impressed with my kids, they’re very athletic,” said Woodward. “We hope to (repeat). That’s been the goal since our preseason meeting. The biggest thing that will hurt is losing Sabrina and those 10 guaranteed points, so our throwers are going to have to work harder. ... The focus they have is best I’ve seen, and there is good team unity. We want everyone to be successful and support each other, the (upperclassmen) are really encouraging the younger kids.”

Mohawk

The Warriors are ready to reclaim the FCL title they won from 2010 to 2012, and one of the largest rosters in the past decade has veteran mentor Joe Chadwick believing it can be happen.

Senior Abbi Yezierski (pole vault, distance) and junior Natasha Olanyk (high jump, sprints, mid-distance) are the top returning athletes to the squad. Yezierski tied for second in the pole vault at the C/WMass meet, while Olanyk placed second in the 400 meters.

Another impact performer will be senior Kesheal Henderson, who is headed to Division I Rider University to play field hockey. She’ll compete in the shot put, javelin, long jump, and sprints. The other 12th-grader is Ashley Pierce (throws, hurdles).

Mohawk’s strengths may lie in their nine returning juniors and eight returning sophomores.

The junior class includes Aimee Funk (hurdles, triple jump), Halley Glier (400, long and triple jumps), Makayla Hicks (discus, shot put), Gracie Kinsey (sprints), Alyse Leonard (hurdles, sprints, jumps), Rachel Richardson (throws), Amanda Taylor (hurdles, jumps), Caitlyn Wilkins (throws) and Eliza Chaput.

Sally Slowinski (jumps, sprints, mid-distance) and Juliette Shean (distance) lead the 10th-grade contingent, which includes Maddie Boucias (distance), Kelsey Scranton (long and triple jumps, 400), Hannah Kelleher (mid-distance), Taylor Brown (high jump), Megan Grant (distance) and Norah Tower (sprints).

The other four girls coming back are all eighth-graders: Lilly Wells (distance), Violet Rawlings (throws), Haley Rode (sprints, throws) and Kristin Slowinski (throws).

Senior Heidi Phelps is one of 11 newcomers from the high school, along with juniors Kaylee Quenneville (throws, sprints), Laura Ward, Laura Purington and Tasha Buntin, sophomores Kayla Baus (pole vault, high jump), Marrissa Angiulo, Corey Burt, Laurel DeRose and Heather Greene, and freshman Tyler Rice.

Middle-school newbies include eighth-graders Chloe Doyle and seventh-graders Lucy Carr, sprints, Gabby Shean (javelin), Lily Shearer (high jump, hurdles), Tori Jarvis and Mae Rice-Lesure.

“It seems like they’re really working good as a team and are having fun,” offered Chadwick. “I hope a lot of the new girls can contribute, because we’re going to need help from them. We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to compete with Mahar and Pioneer.”

Pioneer

Graduation claimed a portion of the Panthers’ depth from a year ago, and the overall turnout was smaller than head coach Gina Johnson expected. She still has around 20 girls to work into events, and hopes some of the veterans can lead the way.

Four girls placed in top 10 of the C/WMass meet last spring and will be among the regular contributors for this squad. Sophomore Danielle Devine (hurdles, sprints, high jump) recorded a fifth-place finish in the high jump, while senior Sydney Martin and freshman Victoria Laskoski tied for seventh and sophomore Emily Geser placed 10th in the pole vault.

Martin is one of only four seniors on the squad, but all of them will be consistent point producers. The others are Sarah Kaczenski (distance, javelin), Savannah Sjoka (throws) and Mary White (mid-distance, high jump).

Natalie Hale (shot put, high jump, mid-distance) is the lone returning 11th-grader, but she’ll be one of the top scorers for the Panthers. Johnson said Hale’s versatility makes her a great pentathlon candidate.

Devine and Geser are part of solid sophomore class that includes Devon Roy (sprints), Amelia Smiaroski (mid-distance) and Megan Weld (throws, hurdles). New 10th-grader Madelyn Kerber was a nice addition, according to Johnson, displaying an athleticism that led her to believe Kerber could fit in to several different events. Johnson said she’ll likely start Kerber in sprints and gradually expand her role.

Freshmen Gabrielle Laskoski (pole vault) and Karissa Perkins (hurdles) also return.

Middle schoolers who could provide key points in various events include eighth-graders Lena Carr (distance), Grace Grover (high jump, sprints) and Ashley Hubbard (sprints, jumps), and new seventh-grader Audrey Corrigan (distance).

“She’s beyond her years as far as talent,” said Johnson, who added that Corrigan also played lacrosse.

After making its first legitimate run at the FCL crown in several years, Johnson seems a little more reserved about 2014 ... for now.

“The numbers are a little lower than I was hoping for,” she said. “We’re young and inexperienced, so we’re going to need big performances from certain people.

“We have good athletes coming off successful indoor track and basketball seasons, and I hope they’re hungry for more,” added Johnson. “We have some of the horses, whether we can put all together will be interesting.”

Athol

Dan Bevis has enjoyed success as head coach of the Red Raiders’ girls’ basketball coach, as well as softball. Now he’ll take over the girls’ track program, which appears to be on the upswing with 24 girls out for the squad and just two losses to graduation.

The two most accomplished returning athletes are sophomore Emily Casella (throws, sprints) and junior Tanner Favreau (horizontal jumps, sprints, hurdles). Casella placed fourth in the discus and eighth in the shot put at the C/W Mass meet, while Favreau took ninth in the 400 hurdles.

But Athol also has plenty of veteran experience, even though only four of the girls are seniors. They include Elizabeth Casella (sprints, discus), MaRyea Jennings (jumps), Annie MacLean (triple jump, mid-distance) and Katie O’Neil (sprints).

Junior Sophie Palmacci (mid-distance, 400 hurdles) is coming off another successful indoor season and hopes to continue that success in the spring. The only other returning 11th-grader is Kayla Lutz (mid-distance).

Emily Casella and Holly Brisette (dist, pole vault) head up a deep sophomore class that includes Sophia LaRoche (mid-distance, distance), Caley McLaughlin (mid-distance, high jump), Callie Jillson (sprints, mid-distance, pole vault), Lindsey Hamlett (sprints, mid-distance), Shelby Sawin (throws), Patricia Sullivan (mid-distance, distance) and Tatianna LaCroix (sprints, jumps).

Athol also has eight new additions that will provide as much depth as they’ve had in several seasons.

Senior multi-sport athlete Madison Truehart (throws) and junior Jasmine Abou-Ellas (mid-distance, distance) are the only upperclassmen of the group. Sophomores Elizabeth Carlson (hurdles, jumps) and Olivia DuFour (mid-distance, throws) and freshmen Julia Carey (jumps, hurdles), Hope Parker (jump, mid-distance), Lucy White (mid-distance) and Mindy Martin give Bevis more depth in several different events.

Bevis isn’t as concerned with competing for the league title this year, but he’s hoping to help his athletes attain personal goal and build from there.

“I’d like to get as many kids to compete and get as many qualified for Western. Mass.,” he said. “We want to start to build a stronger program than what we’ve had in past. Missy (former head coach Melissa Graham) did a great job with the girls, and I hope I can keep that ball rolling.”

Turners Falls

Kelly Kaczmarczyk takes over the cooperative program with Franklin County Technical School and with five losses to graduation, plus the usual defections, she’ll be working with only a half-dozen holdovers from the 2013 squad.

Kaczmarczyk will lean on the talent and leadership of her four seniors. Lauren Grimard returns as the top jumper and hurdler, Sophie Lechter is a solid jumper and middle-distance runner, Alicia Peters will complete in the sprints and throws, and Clarisse Hutchinson is among the best in the mile. She’ll also run a leg in the 4x400 relay.

Junior Haleigh Bassett should also be a factor in the sprints and throws, and sophomore Destiny McDonough is improving in the pole vault.

Kaczmarczyk will be able to build the program through a large group of newcomers. Of those first-year athletes, seniors Erin Simmons (sprints, throws) is the only upperclassman.

She also has sophomores Tori Howes, Yarelis Santana and Areyon Politis, as well as freshmen Jill Harris (throws), Bryn Kruzlic (sprints, throws), Wileshka Vega (javelin, long jump, sprints), Jenna Hackett (pole vault, mid-distance), Shauntel Ortiz (pole vault, hurdles), Alexis Barrett and Katie Sheperd to fill spots at various events.

Greenfield

New head coach Luke Martin greeted 27 girls at practice and that bodes well for a program that used to be among the league contender for years but has recently struggled.

Only five athletes graduated, and a sizable influx of new underclassmen has Martin believing the Green Wave’s future is bright.

Senior Erika Glabach is the team’s leader, and she’s a threat to score double-digit points in every meet, regardless of her opponents. The only other senior is Akeya Sutton, a thrower who comes off a strong indoor season.

Greenfield should have more depth and be improved in the throws, which both of the squad’s juniors, Valenka Kosick and Emily Boynton, will focus on.

Claire Abelson (distance) highlights a multi-talented sophomore class that includes Miranda Coulombe (high jump, long or triple jump, mid-distance), Ajah Farrington (sprints, long and high jump, relays), Raylyn Rockwood (sprints, relays, javelin), Lauren Donovan (hurdles) and Kaitlyn Noyes (pole vault).

Three freshmen also return to the squad, and all three are likely to contribute points in multiple events. They are Alyssa Garvin (pole vault, relays, utility), Chelsea Mass (sprints, high jump, relays) and Anna Jackowski (mid-distance).

Martin has some talent to utilize in his group of newcomers. They include sophomores Katie Lamp (throws), Natalie Lamp (throws), Molly Sullivan (mid-distance) and Grace Duseau (mid-distance), and freshmen Sarah O’Sullivan (mid distance, throws) and McKenna Wells (sprints, relays).

He’s also pleased with the group of available middle-school athletes. They include eighth-graders Amy O’Sullivan (mid-distance, distance), Jenna Silk (distance, jumps), Jamie Day (mid-distance, distance), Leah Bosco (sprints, jumps), Chloe Lunt (throws) and Alison LaFlamme (utility), and seventh-graders Kailee Stoval and Amelia Simmonds.

“We have a good turnout and they’re all pretty athletic, but they’re really young,” offered Martin. “We’re just trying to figure out where they fit. We have experience at distance, relays and anything Erika does.”

Martin, who’s being helped out by retired Greenfield coaching icon Pete Conway, said he’s trying to use the team’s depth to the best advantage.

“The challenge is finding the right combination of kids to put in the sprints, middle distance, relays, even the pole vault,” he said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy, especially from the necowmers. They want to find their spot somewhere. Some of them did indoor track, so they have some experience. Erika and Claire are strong leaders.”

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