The East Haven indoor track program's most important part of the season is yet to come, but the Yellowjackets have been constantly working hard to make sure they are at their best. The end of the winter season is when these athletes want to shine.
"The whole point of track and field is to work hard on the track and work hard in the weight room so that we can peak at the end of the season, the most important part," said Coach Rusty Dunne. "We have five to six meets coming up in the next five or so weeks so it is just about to start. These athletes are working hard toward that goal and it is starting to show."
The program consists of 25 girls and 18 boys who are vigorously training every day at practice. There is a mix of good athletes with experience and young faces that are just getting used to competing. Dunne is proud to aid these athletes with the help from Assistant Coaches Jim Vicario and Jeff Cretella.
The girls' team is a great group of athletes that exhibits solid performances on the track, in the weight room, and in the classroom. In front for the girls' team are seniors Kelli Carfora and Danielle Stevens, who are looking to be recruited by colleges. Carfora, who is being recruited by University of Hartford, Quinnipiac, Southern Connecticut, and Eastern Connecticut, is one of the top sprinters in the state. Stevens, who is being recruited by Bucknell and Ithica, is also an excellent sprinter. Right behind them is junior Rachael Massey, who has greatly improved bringing her times down. These three girls finished in the top 10 of the 55 dash at their SCC Developmental meet on Jan. 3: Carfora (4th, 7.77), Stevens (5th, 7.78), Massey (10th, 7.98).
Other sprinters for the girls include freshman Ann Coleman, junior Brittany Rowe, freshman Ireland Miessau, and freshman Kara Hanson.
"They have all worked very hard and have shown a lot of great improvement," said Dunne.
The top hurdler and long jumper for the girls is senior Rebekah Vineyard, who has scored many points for East Haven throughout the years. As a great all-around athlete, there is some college interest in her, as well. Junior Destiny Coward came out of nowhere in shot put for the Yellowjackets, breaking the East Haven indoor record set by Elizabeth Heng (30-41/2) in 2008 with her throw of 30-8.
"In long sprints and distance, the girls are doing an excellent job for us. They are good athletes doing their best," said Dunne. "These athletes include sophomore Taylor Maffeo, junior Alexia Hernandez, junior Gabby Capuano, and junior Qiana Mendez."
With numbers lower on the boys' side than usual, the Yellowjackets are trying to get back where they used to be.
"There may be young guys and new guys, but a lot of guys that are working hard," said Dunne.
Sprinting for the boys are senior Ryan DePalma, freshman Mike Griffith, and freshman Garrett Pates. DePalma has improved his strength and speed and competed in the long jump as he reached his career high of 17-111/2 in a recent meet.
Hurdlers and senior Ed Gaites, junior Chris Maio, and senior Marc Cacioppo have all shown to be good all-around athletes who work hard in their events. Cacioppo has also made his mark on the pole vault event, improving each season in both indoor and outdoor, as in his last meet he cleared 8-6. Shot put athletes for the boys include junior Mike Jasiorkowski and freshman Augustine Zurita, who have both displayed much progress.
The top runner for the boys in long sprints and in distance it's junior Brady Reynolds.
"He has shown tremendous improvement and has been a shining star during indoor so far," said Dunne of Reynolds. "He is driven and attacks everything in the same way. He persistently trained in the weight room, gaining 15 pounds, he brought his time down six seconds in two weeks, and is one of the best students in our high school."