Indoor track: Gaelettes look to take next step

Runner-ups at the Southern Connecticut Conference championship meet last winter, and capturing the outdoor conference track and field title in the spring, the Shelton High girls indoor track team wants more.

“We want to contend for the SCC. The program’s been getting better every year,” said Shelton coach Mike Barone. “I feel like we have a balanced team. We’re balanced and we’re on the rise.”

Shelton has won the SCC outdoor championship two years in a row and brings over standout performers with that title experience under their belts.

The Gaelettes will have to overcome the loss of graduate Samantha Stevens, a state champion in the shot-put event. Stevens was among 11 graduates, but the Gaelettes bring back a wealth of talent in a variety of events.

“We’ve got a lot of depth with our throwers,” said Barone, noting that junior Yasmeen Dabiran, ninth in last year’s LL meet, is among the returnees.

Shelton’s captains are Lauren Pawlowski and Liz Herlihy.

Pawlowski competes in pole vault, sprints, jumps, and is a relay anchor.

Herlihy is a hurdler, who also runs in relay events.

“I’m really excited. We’ve really been looking forward to it since school started,” said Herlihy, adding that some talented girls have joined the program this season to help offset the losses to graduation.

Other strong returnees are sprinter Haley Oko, distance runners Amanda Lomonte and Anna Weissenberg, and middle-distance competitors Heather Garrett and Maeve Sheldon.

Barone anticipates that New Haven schools Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross, as well as Cheshire, Hamden, Amity and Hand of Madison, will be among the tough contenders in the conference.

For years, Hillhouse dominated the conference, but other squads, including Shelton, have emerged to finish on or near the top in recent campaigns.

“It’s been interesting because it used to be a couple schools running away with it,” Barone said.

Barone describes competing in track and field or cross country as being a lifestyle given the offseason training that takes place. But it is an enjoyable lifestyle. “It’s fun. It’s a blast. We have a ton of fun with track here. They work hard. They come here and they work hard,” Barone said.

Shelton will take part in its second SCC Developmental Meet on Jan. 8 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven beginning at 5 p.m.

Championship season begins with the SCC finals, followed by the Class LL meet and the State Open. The Gaelettes were 10th in last year’s LL meet.