NEW MILFORD - The girls track program at New Milford High School has been trending up recently, with state champions, Open champions and New England as well as national qualifiers, and with a new addition to the coaching staff this spring the goal is to keep the momentum going.

Casey Gawlak has come on board as head coach, allowing former coach Ryan Fitzsimmons to slide into the assistant coaching role, with Mike Nahom staying on board as a volunteer.

Gawlak has been involved in track and field since his days as a runner at Stamford High School, where he won the CIAC Class L title in the mile. He went on to run competitively in college at Keene State, where he was an NCAA Division 3 championship qualifier in the 3000-meter steeplechase.

After college Gawlak coached at Darien High School in the mid-’80s, where he had the state champion in the 800 meters. He has also coached under Rob Murray at Danbury High School and Bryan Kovalski at Ridgefield High School, two of the top coaches in the state. More recently, Gawlak coached both boys and girls this past winter at Joel Barlow High School, having three New England and one national qualifier.

With all that experience comes a local tie, as well and a desire to see the Green Wave continue their success on the track

“I live in New Milford, and my son and daughter both ran cross country and track here,” Gawlak said. “I would like to continue the tradition of great running here in New Milford.”

With coach Gawlak in, coach Fitsimmons gets to take a fresh look at the team and a bit of a breather. Over the past 12 years, and out of a possible 36 seasons (fall, winter, spring), Fitzsimmons has coached in 29 of them.

“I have decided to step down for a few reasons,” Fitzsimmons said. “One being family commitment and the responsibility of the head coach, the other goal being to try and put the team in a better spot to win a championship, which has always been our goal. Mike Nahom stepped down to a volunteer position, but is still just as dedicated to our distance group. I am working with the throws and jumps as an assistant coach and looking forward to more time to spend with this group.”

Senior captains Mia Nahom and Brigit Humphries will lead a strong distance unit. The UConn-bound Nahom is a national-caliber miler, placing 11th at Indoor Nationals last month with a time of 4:54.92.

Senior captains Raquel Morehouse and Riley Peragine will lead the sprinters and Junior captains Emily Prizio and Isabel Feliz will lead the throwers and jumpers.

Gawlak expects strong performances from Sorangely Presinal in the shot put, Sara Grudwick in middle-distance events, Brooke Morabito in distance events and Darcy Cook, a State Open qualifier in the intermediate hurdles.

“Our goals for this season are to better our placing in the SWC and State Championship meets, which were 2nd and 3rd respectfully,” Gawlak said. “The preseason has gone fine. Even with the poor weather, we are able to train through it.”