WOBURN — Adjusting from the make-shift Fall II campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic to a standard regular winter season will be no problem whatsoever for the Woburn Hight track teams.
“Being back in those (indoor) venues is tremendous,’’ said Woburn coach James Fletcher. “They're world class tracks and for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete there is truly remarkable.”
As stated by the MIAA, all indoor sporting events will have mask mandates until at least January 15 where at that point it will be re-evaluated.
“The MIAA mask mandate is what it is, but it is one necessary step closer to a full return to normal,’’ said Fletcher.
According to Fletcher, 85 runners were present at the first day of tryouts and while Fletcher hasn’t set anything in stone, he’s excited about the depth of the team.
The Tanners have certainly enjoyed their success during Fletcher’s tenure as the squad finished with a 4-1 mark last season, with its only loss to Lexington. Over the past five years, they’ve delivered a combined total of a 21-4 mark.
With the Tanners’ recent success over the past several seasons, Fletcher is more than pleased in regards to the team’s outlook.
“I think we have a strong team, but regardless, it will be nice to be back in the swing of things and give the young athletes the true experience of indoor track,’’ said Fletcher. “The girls are very confident we can have a successful season. I think we are very well balanced and can cover basically every event.”
Leading the way for the Tanners will be senior tri-captains Nubia Pereira, Deanna Dukas and Olivia Poole.
Poole and Pereira are expected to compete in the middle and long distance events while Dukas is slated to be in the hurdles.
Other returning tracksters include Camille Connors in the 55 meters along with Grace Battista in the middle distance events.
Also competing in the hurdles will be Colleen Curran while Kayla Burback and Riley Power are also expected to be key contributers in the 300 meters.
Leading the way in the high jump will be Amanda Palmisano and Ali McEleney while Emma Patrissi is in the long jump. In the shot put, Courtney Curran is also expected to be a solid competitor.
As far as newcomers are concerned, Eva Nicolas is slated to compete in the 55 meters while Sydney Metivier and Emilia Rivera will provide depth in the 600 and 1000 meters.
Elise Corduck is also expected to compete in the distance events while Brooke Battista and Emma Barbas will each compete in the high jump.
Also new to the team is Maria Brito, who will add depth in the shotput toss.
“I think they're going to perform really well and they all will fit into the varsity lineup nicely,’’ said Fletcher. “I think they will showcase the depth of the team well.”
Fletcher is also hopeful that the team’s depth will be able to land the Tanners in the conversation as one of the top teams in the Middlesex League Liberty Division.
“Hopefully we will be in the fight, but it's tough to tell,’’ said Fletcher. “A lot has happened in the past year or two, so I think the league will be decently balanced.”
The Tanners open the season against Arlington on Wednesday at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center.
WOBURN HIGH BOYS INDOOR TRACK PREVIEW
“To be honest it's just great to get back into our regular routine at our regular practice facility,’’ said Woburn boys coach Chris Keane, whose coaching in his third season. “It's awesome to have everyone boys and girls to be back together as a team. I'm sure it'll be great to get to BU and Reggie but we haven't competed there yet, and knowing how the world is, I'm not guaranteeing anything. We'll see when it happens.”
Not only is Keane pleased that the Tanners will be competing in dual meets in regular environments, but he’s also enthusiastic about participating in the Invitational and State Relay meets.
“I think it's just great to have everyone back together,’’ said the coach. “More so than anything, I hope we feel complete as a team and together in an atmosphere to have some fun. Our goal is to be as competitive as possible, continue to grow our program that struggled to get kids out during the covid year, and work as hard as we possibly can to improve individually and as a team.”
Leading the way for the Tanners are senior quad captains Kevin Kazadi, Joe Latores as well as Alex Langlois and Ty Sullivan.
Latores and Kazadi are expected to compete in the sprinting events while Langlois and Sullivan are slated to be key assets in distance events. Kazadi, a standout football lineman, will also be a big addition in the shot put.
Other returning athletes to the squad include sophomore Elijah Matos and senior Karel Jean-Louis, who is expected to compete in the sprinting events.
As for returning hurdlers, seniors Damien Oliveira and Mason Parziale will be key factors for the Tanners along with sophomore Ben Perez.
In the distance events, look for juniors James Carriere, Dan Ayanian, as well as seniors Michael Curran and Jared Carter.
Newcomers to the squad, Keane is expecting sophomore Alex Tran to compete in the long jump followed by junior Leyland Stack in the sprinting events.
Junior Rocco Gomes is also expected to add some depth in both the hurdling and jumping events for the Tanners.
“The team is working very hard,’’ said Keane. “We're a very young team hoping to gain experience. I am optimistic we will be able to have a full season. We can only control what we can control and so we'll make the most of each opportunity that we get. I think with full certainty that everyone is excited to head into a "normal" season with a "normal" schedule.”
After finishing the Fall II season with a 3-2 mark, the Tanners are hoping to compete with among the elite teams in vying for the Middlesex League Liberty Division title.
“Reading and Lexington are the top teams in the league, and we’re hoping that we can be right in the mix to compete for the league title,’’ said Keane. “Our goal is to grow the program, gain experience, and work as hard as we can every day. If we’re able to do that, then I think we’ll have a very successful season.”
The Tanners open the season on Wednesday against Arlington at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center.