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A good opening day on the track for Raiders girls and boys.

POSTED April 08, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON- On an afternoon that felt more like late fall than early spring, the Torrington boys and girls track team learned some things on opening day during a sweep of visiting Crosby and Wilby.

“This day was all about molding the team,” girls coach Jada Mattiello said, “We have so many new runners and throwers on these team. We needed today to see who belonged where.”

It’s one thing to see how kids perform in practice; it’s another to see how they do when the gun goes off for real and the competition is not one of your own teammates.

Consider it a successful afternoon that answered some questions but also one that left Mattiello and boys coach Rick Dubois with challenges.

On the girls side, Mattiello got a chance to juggle her lineup on the fly as she saw how performances went.

The Raiders 4x800 team of freshman Michaela Bottari, sophomore Paretti, junior Kristen Ellis and junior Aly Otis got things off to a strong start with a win in a time of 11:25.

That team, and it’s youth, is one reason Mattiello is excited about some of the athletes she will get a chance to mold of the next two seasons.

“Most of these kids just ask me what’s next and I let them know,” Mattiello said, “They just need to gets themselves stronger and get more time on the track. They are buying in to what we are teaching tem and that’s huge.”

Each of the 4x800 team picked up a win in another individual event with Paretti winning the 1600, Bottari the 800, Ellis the 3200 and Otis the Triple Jump.

Sarah Royals picked up a win in the 110/100 high hurdles with a time of 18.6 seconds while fellow hoops standout Mariah Cerruto was part of the 4x400 team that took first with a time of 4:33.

Senior Leslie Smith had a strong day throwing and jumping, picking up wins in the discus, shot put and the long jump.

Another up and coming sophomore, Melanie Mangco, started her 2011 season with a pair of wins, one in the 800 meters and another as part of the 4x400 team that featured Cerruto, Otis and Bottari.

On the boys side, three things stuck out for Dubois in the opening day double win.

First was the performance of a runner who Dubois said, “Is as tough mentally as any kid we have on the team.”

Dylan Kruppa, who came within .09 of setting the school record in the 400 a year ago, blasted off his 2011 campaign with another strong showing in typical Kruppa fashion.

“The race was even with 30 meters to go,” Dubois said, “As we have seen time after time with Dylan, he was not going to let the other kid beat him and he pulled it out down the stretch.”

Indeed, it was about as close to a photo-finish as you could get with Kruppa edging a Crosby runner by a mere .1 seconds at the finish line.

The win qualified Kruppa for states already and sets up a run at the school record of 50.8.

In the triple jump, junior Brendan Lytton edged his teammate Kruppa with a jump of 20’11” compared to a 20’5”.

Lytton’s jump was his best ever and both qualified for states with the leaps.

The 100 meter run also went to Lytton, giving him two first place finishes on opening day.

The boys faired better in the races than the field events on Wednesday, a trend Dubois will look to reverse.

Both teams and their coaches saw enough to give them encouragement for future meets against some of the big dogs in the Naugatuck Valley League like Naugatuck or Seymour.

Now if only Mother nature would cooperate with the temperatures a bit.

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