The New Generation

Connor Riley

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Connor Riley, Writer

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The winter season is upon us and that means a new season of Dodger Winter Track&Field is here. The Dodgers are excited to get the season underway with their first meet on December 18th at Drew University. The O’ Leary Lid Lifter Invitational will feature many competitive teams and athletes from around the county to start off the season with a bang. However, this upcoming season will have a different feel than past.

Following the Spring Track & Field season last year, the Dodgers sadly had to say goodbye to many graduating athletes vital to the boy’s team. The Dodgers lost a few key players including Dan Iskander, Pat Hanley, Mat Richards, Abe Gertler, Dylan Anderson, Luke Rosica, Nick Wilde, and Thomas Hendrickson. These athletes competed all over the spectrum in hurdling, relays, pole vaulting, sprinting, and distance. Mat Richards (Northeastern), Abe Gertler (MIT), Dan Iskander (US Naval Academy), and Dylan Anderson (William & Mary) have gone on to running D1 at their respective colleges and posting terrific times for their first collegiate races. If that doesn’t show you the true talent the senior class had last year, Patrick Hanley (Maryland) ran in the Philadelphia Marathon two weeks ago and ran a beastly time of 2:49:17 (6:28 mile pace)! Abe Gertler quickly rose to being one of the best pole vaulters in the state and the senior team sported the best and record-breaking shuttle hurdle team in Morris County.

The current boys’ team certainly has some big shoes to fill but they are up for the challenge. Doctor L was asked what the expectations are heading into this season and he replied, “To win championships.” The boy’s team will be bringing back a few solid individuals mixed throughout the grades. Senior Matt Mutone is hoping to pick up where he left off last year in his path of domination. In every event under 600m, Matt will blow you away with his pure speed. One also cannot forget his rising skill in the pole vault and high jump and his wicked speed while running anchor on the 4×4 relay team. Fellow senior Thomas Bennett is looking to lead the shuttle hurdle team to victory this year after the entire team graduated at the conclusion of last season. If the boys didn’t already have speed, then why not mention senior Quinn Heyrich and junior Will “Falcon” Hendrickson? Heyrich and Falcon are the team’s sprinting to middle distance runners. It is very easy to miss these guys during races given how fast they are. The distance team will be led by senior Connor Riley who is looking to continue posting personal bests in events ranging from the 800 to the mile and 2 mile. Running alongside Connor will be sophmore Sawyer Tadano and junior Noah Buzinkai. The three teammates are coming off of fantastic Cross Country seasons (Sawyer is looking to bounce back from an injury) and are ready to lead the Dodger Boys Winter Track & Field team in the distance events. Fresh off of his first collegiate race, Mat Richards says, “This year’s team needs to replace a lot of points in the sprints, hurdles and jumps that graduated last year, as well as the strong distance leadership. I think they are up for the task.”

The girl’s team is hoping to have another consistent winter season. Led by Seniors Helene Rowland, Maeve Byrne, Libby Johnson and Rose Ciriello, the girls will look to improve from last year and have another successful season. Helene Rowland is looking to win in shot put at sectionals again and Rose Ciriello is right behind her looking to back up Helene in high jump and with her pure talent in events ranging from sprinting to middle distance. Maeve Byrne is currently felled by injury but is looking for a late winter return. In the meantime, the distance team will be led by Libby Johnson who is excited to get the season underway. Libby is eager to get back to running fast and consistent races this season.

Of course each team is just as strong as their most inexperienced athletes. The boys and girls teams will be looking for a huge contribution from everyone this season. From first years to returning veterans, everyone on the team has an important role to play. The Dodgers Winter Track & Field team is ready to get the season going and want to start off hitting the ground running. Snow or no snow, the Dodgers Winter Track team will be out training and preparing all season long.