The graduation of six team members who saw regular playing time last fall hasn’t prevented Tom Czaplinski, coach of the Newtown High School girls’ volleyball team, from maintaining his always-high expectations: To improve upon the previous year’s record and again be in the hunt to win South-West Conference and state titles, if not win one or both of those championships.
The loss of seven players to graduation and another two — senior forward Sarah Lynch and senior goalkeeper Alyssa Ruefenacht — to injury, doesn’t prevent Coach Marc Kenny from believing his Newtown High School girls’ soccer team will be back in the mix of teams contending for South-West Conference and state championships this year.
Make that the team winning conference and state titles.
The early outlook and scenario are, in many ways, somewhat of a carbon copy of last year’s. Brian Neumeyer, coach of Newtown High School’s boys’ soccer team, is hopeful that the finish is just a little better than it was last fall when the Nighthawks reached the South-West Conference championship game but lost to Brookfield.
Zach Gauvin, head coach of Newtown High School’s girls’ swimming and diving team, doesn’t shy away from pushing his teams to raise the bar higher than each previous season’s mark, with more practice laps in the pool, with the hope that the effort will lead to more success in the postseason.
Gauvin says, given the good shape his swimmers were in when they came to the first preseason practices, he expects to squad to put in more yardage than ever before.
It’s not too often that inexperience is the strength of a team. But, in the case of Newtown High School’s girls’ cross country squad, perhaps the most threatening part of the lineup lies in the group’s younger runners, including freshmen, according to Coach Doug Russell.
“Our strength is going to be this year’s newcomers,” said Russell, noting that several of athletes in a time trial run last week, as preseason unfolded, were freshmen and sophomores.
Faced with finding replacements for four of his top seven runners from a year ago, David Foss, coach of the Newtown High School boys’ cross country team, isn’t sure exactly what to expect from his team this year, but views potential for the lineup to make some noise if enough runners emerge at the top of the team’s pack.
Growing up around horses and receiving riding and jumping training from a teacher who couldn’t possibly care any more about her success than any other (the instructor happens to be her mom), Newtown’s Ellie Ferrigno has quickly become an advanced rider for her age.
Now 12, Ferrigno is competing against horse lovers who are two, three, four, five — sometimes as many as six — years older than her.
Dr. Neil Culligan, of Associated Neurologists in Danbury, will come to the Newtown High School auditorium on Tuesday, September 9, at 6:30 pm to speak to athletes and their parents about concussions. Newtown High Athletic Director Gregg Simon and Athletic Trainer Sabrina Byrne strongly encourage parents of athletes to attend.