The spring athletic season began on Wednesday. Here is a brief preview for the track and field, tennis and golf programs in Canton and Avon.
GIRLS TRACK and FIELD: A year ago, the Avon High girls track team went 13-0 and won its first outright league championship since 1989. Many of the key performers return, including NCCC champions Maddi McHugh (1,600), Molly Hamel (3,200) and Kaely Quijano (pole vault). Running remains the strength of the team but the Falcons have additional depth in field events that should keep them as a contender for a second straight league championship. Avon was fifth in Class MM a year ago. For Canton, Lucy Tanner leads a small Warrior girls squad.
BOYS TRACK and FIELD: The Avon boys track team (10-3, 10-3 NCCC) was fourth in the league a year ago and hope to be challenging Canton, Ellington and Suffield for top honors in the league. Jake Sartain, who was fourth in Class MM in the triple jump and ninth in the high jump, returns along with distance runners Colin Pritchard and Andrew Suter and sprinters Evan Edgar and Zach Zwibel. Tim O’Brien (shot, discus) and Patrick Howard (pole vault) also look promising.
Canton (13-0, 13-0 NCCC) has won three straight NCCC track titles and four straight NCCC Tournament crowns. And that was without a track and field facility. The Warriors’ new facility hosted its first meet on Wednesday against Stafford. Canton, which hasn’t lost a NCCC dual meet since the middle of 2010, returns Keith Wilson, a dynamic sprinter and hurdler, Cam Daley, an outstanding all-around athlete and a host of runners and athletes usually willing to try something new for coach Tim O’Donnell. As usual, the strength of the team is on the track but look for the Warriors to get stronger in field events. With its own facility, Canton will host non-conference opponents East Catholic, Haddam-Killingworth, N.W. Catholic and Northwestern Regional on Saturday at noon.
BOYS TENNIS: Avon hopes to extend their dominance this spring. The Falcons have won three straight Class M state championships, three straight NCCC titles and 53 straight dual meets dating back to 2010. Avon (18-0, 14-0 NCCC) lost four seniors from last year’s team but return five players who were on the court in last year’s Class M tournament – All-NCCC senior John Burdick and juniors Eric Selzer, Michael Arciero, Gabe Levin and Andre Wang. Selzer and his brother, Evan, earned All-State honors by finishing second in doubles. … Canton (12-2, 12-2 NCCC) lost seven of 11 starters from a team that won the most matches in a single season in 13 years in 2000. Fifth-year head coach Dante Boffi has experienced players in senior Eric Scott, who was the quarterback on the football team, senior Chris Coleman and juniors Rich Hefler and John Smith.
GIRLS TENNIS: Avon (16-2) finished second behind Ellington/Somers in the NCCC a year ago but surged to win the league tournament. The Falcons return just one singles players from its starting lineup at the NCCC Tournament – senior Pam Fetzer. Avon does return a host of doubles players for second-year coach Kim Moretti – Gaby Berns, Sarah Chow, Maddie Clark, Hannah Clark and Shana Morel. … Canton (1-17, 1-16 NCCC) is looking to improve under first-year head coach Stephen Riley and three seniors Lillian Hyde, Kelly McCartney and Marta Lingenheld.
BOYS GOLF: Avon (13-2, 11-1 NCCC) has two players back from the starting lineup they sent out for the CIAC Division II tournament last year – All-State sophomore Marcus Husted and All-NCCC junior Matt Bergman. The Falcons will be young but there is never usually a lack of talent on the golf course for the Falcons, who finished third in Division II for the second time in three seasons last spring. Coventry (12-0) won the NCCC championship but Avon captured the NCCC Tournament, led by Husted, who shared medalist honors with two other golfers at the tournament with a 74. … Canton (9-10, 6-6 NCCC) returns four of their top five players from a year ago led by senior Parker Lyons, juniors Riley Hollis, Logan Anderson and Jack Sullivan. The Warriors will spend spring break in Akron, Ohio with alumnus Stephen Carter, a PGA professional and the director of golf at Firestone Country Club. Carter was an outstanding player with Canton in the mid-1980s.
GIRLS GOLF: Avon will be led by All-State senior Marissa Grillo, who will be playing at Boston College next fall. A year ago, Grillo helped Avon (18-4-1, 11-0-1 SCGGL) win its second straight Southern Connecticut Girls Golf League championship. She was the individual medalist in 12 of 14 events. Avon, which finished 10th in the CIAC tournament, returns three of the five players who played in the state tournament – Grillo, senior Melissa Horovitz and junior Christine Bae. Eric Hoffman will be coaching the team. … Canton (3-16, 2-10 SCGGL) looks to improve on its performance in 2013. Senior Dana Nelson returns for the Warriors along with junior Gianna Cassetta.