By BOB YORK –
In case you haven’t noticed, track & field is a very versatile sport–perhaps the most versatile of all. To successfully compete here, one must outrun, out jump and out throw his or her competitors.
It’s also unique from other sports in its manner of scoring. Again, to be successful, a combination of lowest times, longest distances and greatest heights is needed to move the scoreboard.
With its various events being scattered about and no single, specific area of competition to be found, the sport may have inadvertently established yet another difference between itself and other sports. It has no bench.
The traditional scene of a coach shouting instructions or encouragement to his or her charges while walking back and forth in front of–or behind–the team bench just doesn’t exist. It also makes it difficult to take a head count, unless you’re Mike Schloat. Schloat is the coach of the Deerfield Academy boys and girls track teams and head counts were never a problem this spring. It wasn’t so much that he always knew everyone was, but rather he never had that many heads to count in the first place.
“Our numbers were down this season,” said Schloat. “To be successful in track, you need about 45 participants on a team and we had about 30 … in fact, there were times this season that we couldn’t even cover all the events. It didn’t stop the kids though. They never used it as an excuse … they continued to work hard all season long and for that, I’m very proud of each and every one of them.”
The Big Green mentor pointed out this spring’s meet against archrival Choate as a prime example of how a shortage of participants goes hand-in-hand with a shortage of points.
“We won more than half of the events in both the boys and girls meets that day, but we just didn’t have the depth to follow those victories up with people finishing second or third or fourth and that spelled the difference,” said Schloat of an 86-59 loss by the boys and the girls’ 89-55 setback.
The Big Green ran into the same problem during this spring’s New England Prep School Track Association Division I Track and Field Championships that took place at Northfield Mount Hermon School. The boys chalked up 27 points on the day, which was good for seventh place in a 12-team field. The girls squad, meanwhile, finished eighth out of 11 teams after collecting 26 points.
Exeter won the gold medal for the boys by piling up 121 points, while Loomis finished second with 89 points. Hotchkiss rounded out the medals podium with a third-place finish following an 85-point effort. The girls’ race saw Loomis outlast Hotchkiss for the gold medal by a single point, 83-82, while NMH wound up third with 72 points.
Reed Horton (14), who was the recipient of this year’s Deerfield Academy Track Cup as the team’s MVP, was directly responsible for 12 of the 27 points the Big Green rang up at the New England meet. He registered eight points with a second-place finish in the 1,500-meter run in a time of 4:01.32, just over two seconds off the winning time of 3:59.46. He then picked up four more points following a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter run in 1:59.59. The winning time in the event was 1:57.88.
Ian Kagame (15) contributed five points to the cause with a third-place finish in the high jump at 6-0, while Jan Slovak (15) picked up four points for a fourth-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 20-1. The remainder of Deerfield’s points came in the pole vault where Gene Thagard (15) finished fourth and Skye Perot (14) was fifth with heights of 11-0 each. Thagard collected four points for his effort, while Perot added two.
Connor Manson (14) who placed 20th in the discus with a toss of 88-9 was named the recipient of this year’s 1983 Team Award, while Blake O’Neal (15) and Kagame were voted co-captains of next year’s team.
On the girls ledger, Devinne Cullinane (14), who received this year’s 1983 Team Award, collected 14 of Deerfield’s 26 points after finishing second in the 800-meter run and third in the 1,500-meter run. She registered eight points in the 800 with a time of 2:22.53, less than one second off the gold-medal clocking, while a time of 4:46.93 rang up six points after finishing just four seconds from the winning time.
Cat Wyatt (14), the winner of this year’s girls MVP award, contributed a half-dozen points over three events. She wound up fourth (four points) in the 100-meter dash in a time of 13.01 as well as sixth in both the 200-meter dash (27.18) and the long jump (15-6). Caroline Wagner (14) posted a fifth spot in the 1,500-meter run at 4:49.60, while Phoebe Morss (15), who was voted co-captain of next year’s squad along with Kemi Akande, pulled into fifth spot in the 3,000-meter run with a clocking of 11:06.67. Coco Spagna (16), meanwhile, placed fifth in the pole vault at a height of 7-0.