By Kim J. Harmon
By Kim J. Harmon
ork to Win â the Newtown High School boysâ track team has worked not only to win, but to improve itself and over the course of the last four seasons under head coach Ed Obloj and assistant Carl Paternoster, the team has found itself moving up from sixth place in the South-West Conference in 1997 to third place in 2000.
Can the Nighthawks take another step up?
âWeâve improved every year,â said assistant coach Carl Paternoster, now in his sixth year with the program, âand everyone thinks we have the opportunity to improve even more. Weâre looking forward to the season.â
The Nighthawks were 10-4 during the dual meet season a year ago and finished third overall at the SWC meet with 52 points. And from all of that comes a formidable group of returning scorers â a group that will strengthen the core of a 47-member team.
It starts, perhaps, with the five senior captains â Kyle Tobin, Jeff Heller, Dave Strong, Tony Napoleone, and Blair Balmforth.
Tobin is the defending SWC champion in the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter intermediate hurdles; Heller is a distance man who is captaining his third team this year; Strong solidifies a pole vault and long jump crew; Napoleone adds strong second-line depth to the hurdling event; and Balmforth leads a talented group of sprinters.
Itâs an impressive core.
âWe have a lot of veterans who can do a lot of things,â coach Paternoster explained. âEveryone is excited.â
Two of those versatile veterans, leading the charge behind the captains, are seniors Anthony Mentessana and Stephen Ambrogio. Both Mentessana and Ambrogio will run the sprints, add a strong leg to the relays, and then do the long and triple jump events.
Other seniors include Tom Fullman (relays and sprints), Tim Miller (javelin, long jump and triple jump), AJ Palmer (long distance runs), and Paul Dolzall (middle and long distance runs).
Juniors include Cuyler Bryant (middle and long distance runs), John Ehlers (sprints and relays), Matt Regan (sprints, relays and high jump), Ryan Shanley (long distance runs), Dan Phillips (javelin and long distance runs), Matt Nahabedian (shot and discus), and TJ Maquire, the defending SWC indoor shot put champion (shot and discus).
Sophomores include Peter Terrance (sprints, middle distance runs, and long jump), and Chris DiNoto (long distance runs).
Coach Obloj and coach Paternoster will also look to junior newcomers David Rod (middle and long distance runs) and Dan Maxwell (middle and long distance runs) for some added depth and added scoring.
âThe standard in the South-West Conference has been Pomperaug,â said coach Paternoster, âbut they have lost a lot and we think the league is wide open.â
How wide open remains to be seen â and seen pretty soon, actually, since the Nighthawks will open the 2001 on Monday, April 9, at home against New Milford, Joel Barlow and Weston.
Monday, April 9 â versus New Milford, Joel Barlow, and Weston, 3:45 pm; Monday, April 23 â versus Masuk, Brookfield and New Fairfield, 3:45 pm; Monday, April 30 â at Bunnell and Foran, 3:45 pm; Monday, May 7 â at Bethel, Immaculate and Stratford; Monday, May 14 â at Jonathan Law, Notre Dame and Pomperaug. NOTE: SWC Championship â Monday, May 21, at New Milford, 4:30 pm.