Shepaug indoor track team off and running in first season
Published 11:34 am, Wednesday, February 10, 2016
WASHINGTON — Out of a relatively small group of athletes looking to stay active and compete in the winter, a new and pretty successful team has sprouted up at Shepaug High School.
In its first season, the Spartans indoor track team has had multiple athletes qualify for the Class S state championships and had a solid turnout for an inaugural program.
Coach Tara Flaherty was asked to lead the team after a group of six athletes approached athletic director Matt Perachi about the school having its own team. If Shepaug didn’t field a team, only a small group of Spartans would have been able to compete this winter.
“The season has gone very well and been a great success,” Flaherty said. “In the past, there would have been a lottery to see who could run with Nonnewaug. It would have been very difficult to tell an athlete they couldn’t run.”
Fortunately, it never came to that. Percachi approached Flaherty about coaching the team, and the Spartans had an indoor track team for the first time.
“We were able to get funding for a coaching position, and thankfully, Tara Flaherty, who is an excellent and experienced coach, agreed to step in and help,” Perachi said. “There are students who are very dedicated to track, and I am thrilled that they have had the opportunity to compete and represent Shepaug in a sport that they have a passion for.”
The group of six grew to 22 at the first meeting and Flaherty said she had 18 athletes show up every day for practice.
“We were expecting really just the small group that approached our athletic director and it grew and included some really strong student athletes,” Flaherty said. “For a first-year program, there was overwhelming interest and it’s exciting to be involved with it on the ground floor.”
The Spartans competed in a number of invitationals throughout the season, including the Yale Interscholastic Track Classic and Coxe Cage. Four Spartans have qualified for the Class S championships on Friday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
On the boys side, Sean Parker qualified for the state meet in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters and John Swanson will compete in the shot put. Quinton Walsh qualified in the 55-meter dash and 300 meters.
A baseball player for the Spartans, Swanson had never thrown the shot before this indoor season.
“To make states having never done that before shows what a great athlete John is,” Flaherty said. “He is a good kid to coach, he’s coachable, competitive and on top of things. I’m happy he came out and sad I’ll lose him to baseball in the spring.”
On the girls side, sophomore Emma Krebs qualified for the Class S championships in the 600 meters, 1,000 meters and 3,200 meters.
“The kids are pretty excited and ready to go,” Flaherty said. “We’ll see how things shape up during the meet and we’ll get to see where we stack up in Class S.”
Considering the turnout and immediate success, Flaherty, who previously coached outdoor track at Wilby and Pomperaug, sees the Spartans indoor track team as a program that is on the rise.
“I think the team is going to be something we offer again,” Flaherty said. “I can’t see us letting it go with the amount of interest and success the athletes had. I can see it becoming one of Shepaug’s athletic programs in the future years.”