Previews of spring sports at West Hartford’s Hall High School have been compiled with input from coaches.
By David Heuschkel, West Hartford Press Sports Editor
Hall boys tracking another state championship
The Hall High boys track & field team once again has quality athletes and a quantity of them that should make the Warriors a strong contender for another state championship.
Head coach Scott Sampietro said the 146 athletes on the team represents the biggest group in program history and “probably the biggest in New England” this year.
The juniors who were instrumental in Hall capturing the Class L championship last spring are now seniors. The group, led by Miller Anderson (middle distance) and Trey Cormier (long distance), was responsible for accumulating 58 of the 73 points it took for the Warriors to win its first state championship in outdoor track.
Anderson won state titles in cross country last fall, indoor track over the winter, and outdoor track last spring. The Villanova-bound senior was the New England champion in the 1000 (indoor) and earned All-American honors as a member of Hall’s distance medley relay team that finished fifth at the indoor nationals in March.
Cormier, who will attend Dartmouth, has an equally impressive resume. He was New England champion in cross country and the 2-mile over the winter. In addition, he achieved All-America status on Hall’s indoor distance medley team along with Anderson and fellow seniors Muhammad Ali and Blake Morin.
Hall’s strength will once again be on the track with distance events this spring, according to Sampietro. There’s good depth in the mid distance and long sprints. The field events are a question, though.
“We have a lot of young throwers and jumpers out for the first time,” Sampietro said. “It remains to be seen if they will be impact players on the conference or state level.”
The first meet was held April 2, and the Hall boys beat Simsbury 105-44.
Girls track & field
Most of the top performers are back. Question is, will it be enough to put Hall over the top after a runner-up finish in Class L last season?
The Warriors have several returning athletes who placed in states last season, both in the track and field events. Senior Olivia Bowes was the Class L long jump champion and runner-up at the State Open. Katherine George was third in the shot put and Taryn Smith was fourth in the high jump.
Rose Kitz (800) and Jenna Zydanowicz (1600) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Class L championships and ran a leg on the 4×800 relay team that finished first.
Nick Marsh won’t put much stock into the first game of his second season as head coach other than his team can play better than it did in a 15-1 loss to Staples April 1.
Marsh expects to improve on last season’s 4-15 record. There’s a solid group of seniors that includes Griffin Van Rye, Bryan Renker, Zack Ellovich, Leo Dionicio, and Jack Brockway.
Van Rye is the team’s top pitcher on the staff, which includes several left-handers. The infield is strong.
Marsh is hoping the returning players will step into leadership roles and the young players can step up, otherwise it could be another trying season for the Warriors.
The Warriors lost a second game, 17-4 to Southington on April 3, but defeated Northwest Catholic 7-2 on April 5.
The Warriors have missed the state tournament the last five years, compiling a 16-76 record over that time.
But head coach Rebecca Lewis has an optimistic outlook this spring. The team will be led by senior captains Megan Polun, Marissa Lazinsk, and Val Barrieau.
The Warriors are experienced up the middle. Polun, a center fielder, earned all-conference honors. Lazinsk has started all four years at shortstop, Barrieau is a three-year pitcher, and second baseman Becca Markie is another returning starter.
Even with five freshmen on the varsity squad, Lewis believes the team is capable of playing .500 and making states for the first time since 2013.
After the first week of play, Hall is 2-1 with a 10-2 win over Northwest Catholic on April 5, and losses to Innovation (19-1) on April 2, and Southington (6-0) on April 3.
The Warriors return all their defenders from a team that allowed an average of 5.7 goals in 15 regular season games (12-3) last spring. Seniors Todd Cravedi, Hugh Wells, and Jack Murphy are back.
The midfield is also very strong with Max Congdon, a two-year all- conference selection who scored 43 goals last season. Senior middie Jack McHale is a four-year starter, and face-off specialist Shea Friedman also returns in his role.
But head coach Ben von Mayrhauser, in his third season, has to replace an offensive attack due to players who graduated. Nolan Tibball, a starting midfielder last season, is being moved up to attack.
In their first game the Warriors defeated South Windsor, 16-5, but on Thursday lost 6-5 to Notre Dame (West Haven).
Hall has a challenging non-conference schedule, which began with back-to-back losses to Daniel Hand (9-4) and Cheshire (12-4). Canton will also provide a stiff challenge for Meg Chaplin’s team.
But with six returning starters, the Warriors should be up for that challenge. Senior attack Chloe Nordyke and senior midfielder Anne Tulikangas were all-conference selections last spring.
They will be joined by fellow seniors Maggie Grant and Grace Polk on defense, Siobhan Boyle in the midfield and Avery Polk at attack.
In their third outing, on April 4, the Warriors defeated RHAM 13-8.
Jim Solomon returns for his 45th year as boys tennis coach. Also back are seniors Rithik Rayi and Gabriel Santos, two all-conference players last spring.
Rayi will play No. 1 singles again as the Warriors (17-1) look to defend their CCC West-Patriot Division championship. John Taylor, Mateo Maturana, Ben Foxman, and David Chen are other returning players.
Solomon said there is a solid group of sophomore players, including Matt Glassman, who should improve as the season progresses.
“We will be more competitive as we gain experience, but it will take some time getting there,” Solomon said. … Senior Katelyn Seidman will play No. 1 singles for the girls tennis team (16-5). Head coach Josh Satlof described her as a “fierce competitor” who is mentally tough. Zoe Chester is moving up to No. 2 singles from No. 4, while Ari Edgar (No. 3) and Abi Cieplinski (No. 4) have transitioned from doubles to singles. … Senior Mac Mahoney is back as the top player for the boys golf team and one of the top players in the state. He had a 37.5 nine-hole average last year. “He has been a consistent performer for three years and I don’t see why he can’t improve a bit more this year,” said head coach Chuck Claffey, in his 33rd year. Ryan Arnold and Will Hutensky will return to the lineup as Hall competes in the always-challenging CCC West. Seniors Max Seguro and Sam Kursman are among several golfers who will compete for the other varsity spots. … The girls team did not lose a match in the regular season (15-0) last year and finished fourth at the CCC tournament. Senior captain Lauren Hines will lead the Hall girls golf team. Sophomores Carolyn Alquist and Sarah DeSanto earned all conference honors last season. … The boys volleyball team graduated six starters from its regular lineup. So head coach Erike Haelen anticipates it to be a rebuilding season. Right side hitter Brennan George and setter Stone Reid are the team captains. Junior Seamus O’Connell is a very strong hitter.
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