Come spring time, a resurgence of new energy will fill the air for most college students with the anxious excitement of finally enjoying the sun’s rays outside after a cold and bitter winter. In regards to the Keene State College men’s and women’s track and field teams, optimism is blooming for the 2013 season. For some individual athletes, the potential of a National Championship is looming ever so closely.
After a long indoor season that began all the way back in mid-October, both KSC track and field teams have been anticipating the beginning of the outdoor season.
In the Little East Conference indoor championships, the Lady Owls team finished in second place. The team was only four points behind the University of Southern Maine from capturing their first ever title in the program’s history with 168 points. USM, who had 172 points, has dominated the conference for the last two decades winning 13 consecutive New England Alliance titles at the LEC meet.
The men’s team finished in a respectable third place at the LEC Championships as USM conquered again. Both teams have established a confidence after the indoor season according to their coaches. Throwing Coach John Napolitano said that the teams are both in a good position coming into the spring, more specifically the women’s team.
“I think now that they have a little taste of what it would take to win the meet and I think in the outdoor season it’s a realistic goal to say that they can compete and they can win that championship, which would be fantastic for our program,” Napolitano said.
In terms of the men’s team, Coach Napolitano expects huge things out of two-time All-American Glenn Guilmette, who finished fourth in the javelin at last year’s National Championships. Guilmette, now a senior, has been a dominant force within the LEC since his freshman year. He said a lot of his hard work throughout the years leads up to this season and hopefully he can accomplish his pursuit of a national title.
“Hopefully I’ll have more of an advantage over the juniors and the sophomores I’ll be competing against,” Guilmette said. “I have more experience than them but you never know what’s going to happen. Sometimes you just have a great throw and that’s how it is with javelin, unfortunately.”
After breaking former Owl Dan Colina’s school record last year, Guilmette said he hopes to break his own record at 70 meters (230 feet).
“It’s just a mark that’s been seamed into my head from my previous thrower Dan Colina, who used to throw for Keene State [College],” Guilmette said.
Coach Napolitano had his own thoughts on Guilmette’s final season.
“Essentially every track meet he goes to, I expect him to win and not just distance wise but also with the strongest technique and I think that that’s something he can accomplish,” Napolitano said.
“Obviously we want to go out to nationals and we want him to be successful again. If you look back at his career, he’s been in a Keene State [College] uniform for three years, he’s qualified for Nationals three times, he’s been All-American twice and he’s just as hungry his senior year as he was last year so I expect him to improve.”
High expectations don’t just stop at Guilmette. Head Track Coach, Pete Thomas has led both programs for the last three decades. He said he thinks a lot of his athletes will be competing this season for something larger than they’ve ever accomplished in the past. But the indoor season is still his primary focus.
“As we finish indoors we’re still looking at Janel Haggerty and Maggie Fitter making it to Nationals as well as perhaps a relay team,” Thomas said.
“Fitter competed outdoors last year in Nationals. She wants to go beyond competing and gather an All-American award. The other runners are really looking to improve their marks and qualify for deeper into the season,” Thomas added.
Thomas said Janel Haggerty is an athlete who’s been looking for a National title run for the last couple of years as a multi-event athlete and will continue to pursue that outdoors.
Haggerty competes in the pentathlon and the heptathlon, participating in the long jump, high jump, the 110 hurdles, the 200, the 800, shot put, and the javelin.
“I felt I had a pretty good season with the pentathlon,” Haggerty said. “I did another one also two years ago so I feel like I have a little bit of experience and I kind of had a season to get used to it, see how things go and what kind of training it takes and everything. I’ve been going out of my way doing whatever I can to make sure I’m just as good if not better than my competition.”
Haggerty said the weather is really the only concern and difference from outdoor to indoor track. Another difference is the javelin is not an indoor event, but the training stays pretty much the same.
Thomas said other than his seniors, there are some underclassmen he’ll be expecting to make an impact out on the track this coming season. These athletes include Samantha Goldsmith, Ben Keach and Lauren Markoe. Napolitano said there’s a lot of potential from everywhere on the team but making a prediction right now is difficult.
“Would I like to have a bunch of kids go out to Nationals? Absolutely,” Napolitano said. “I think I have a few kids on the team that can make that jump but the question is will they make that jump and that’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication.”
The 2013 spring outdoor season is expected to be one of the most competitive and exciting seasons to date for both Owl programs and Guilmette was able to put those expectations for the season simply.
“I know there’s a lot of good throwers and good runners on the team now,” Guilmette said.
“Hopefully we’ll all have a good season and they’ll have a good season and we’ll be there putting the Keene State [College] name out there.”
Keep your eyes on the sky as the KSC Owls will be planning to make a rise in the Little East this coming spring.
Dalton Charest can be contacted