Kelvan Kearse had a pretty good first season as the boys track and field coach at Windsor.
In about five months' time, the Warriors captured their first indoor Class L title and the State Open championship in outdoor track and field.
Now, Kearse hopes to have an equally stirring follow-up with an almost entirely new cast of stars.
"I think at the end of the season we have the potential to be better than last year," Kearse said.
After winning the Class L championship last season behind the performances of standout sprinter Daniel Jamieson and its relay teams, Kearse will turn the keys over to senior Brian Sappleton and a lot of talented but unproven athletes. And he's looking forward to it.
"We're excited about where people are relative to where we were last year," Kearse said. "So we can predict where we're going. ... These guys are committed to working."
Sappleton finished second in the 300 meters last season by 0.04 seconds to Jamieson with a time of 35.89. But this season he could be set for his own breakthrough year, much like Jamieson's.
Sappleton has the second-fastest returning time in the 300 meters in the state, behind Northwest Catholic's Jared Delane. Delane ran 35.74 last year in the State Open. For Windsor, the early season improvements are all based on a lot of offseason training and lifting most of the team has put in, hoping to beat their performances of previous years.
"It could be a pretty good year," Kearse said. "I wouldn't predict any titles [right now] because anything can happen but I will predict we will perform well.'
Capital Prep is set to keep making history.
After finishing second in last year's Class S championship, the Trailblazers have their hopes set on moving up a spot.
It would be the first title for the program, which is one of the smallest in the state. Capital Prep has just 100 boys in the school and has been a team for less than a decade. But that hasn't stopped the Trailblazers lately.
Capital Prep finished second by one point to Bolton in the Class S championships in cross country and it expected to win.
Led by Dhahran Velasquez, Devin Nelson and Kevin Rivera, Capital Prep is no longer an underdog in any competition.
New Face, New Hope
The restoration project continues at Manchester.
After spending the last few years struggling to contend at the state level and get back to its status as a top tier program in league competition, the Indians have made another coaching change.
Tom St. Laurent, who has worked with the team as assistant the last few years, is set to take over for Steve O'Reilly, who has moved to an assistant position.
St. Laurent is the third new coach at the school in the last decade
For the Indians, it has been a tough last five years compared to their successes in the previous decade.
But they remain hopeful they can build the Manchester name back the way they did before.
Led by the trio of distance runners Patrick Dibble, Matthew Reichelt and Alan Pearl, the Indians will hope to keep pace with the area's best, Windsor and Glastonbury, through their distance team. Dibble is trying to beat the school record in the 1,600 meters. … Manchester may be rebuilding, but CCC North foe Glastonbury is once again the talk of the division. The Tomahawks return brothers Patrick and Ryan Shiring and should build off last season's ninth-place finish at Class LL. … South Windsor has Ryan Karzar and Ryan Voker looking to factor into the results.
Simsbury Strong Again
Traditional downstate powers Danbury, Staples, Hillhouse and Greenwich should all once again be among the favorites to contend for the sport's biggest prize — the State Open title.
But that doesn't mean area teams won't put up a fight. They'll just have their hands full.
Led by Simsbury, which finished seventh last year, several programs from northern Connecticut should improve on performances from last year.
Windsor, Hand, Sheehan and Conard should all contend for a spot in the top 15 this season.
The Trojans appear to be one of the most talented teams early on and among the best in the CCC West. Despite losing part of their record-setting 4x800 team, Simsbury has Jack Genovese and Kyle Heubner prepared to lead the way. Chandler Ives is also back in the pole vault. ... Farmington will also be looking to take a step up from last season's 20th finish in Class L. The Indians have a strong group of distance runners, including Matt Simoneau and Matt Chisholm. The pair are coming off strong performances in the outdoor season and expect to be a tough duo to break in the 1,600 meters. … Patrick Williamson has another strong team at Northwest Catholic in his third season. Led by one of the state's best sprinters, Jared Delane, distance runner Joe Doyle and hurdler Galo Rodriguez, Northwest Catholic will once again compete in the Class S Championship.