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Tuesday, March 20 Sports

Boys track season preview for Warde, Ludlowe, Prep

Three of Fairfield's four high school boys track teams have some talented performers this spring. The question for them is whether their strong efforts can overcome a lack of depth in some events that would lead to successful won-lost records.

Fairfield Prep enters the season with the state's top distance runner from the 2013-14 cross country and indoor track and field seasons, senior Christian Alvarado.

Fairfield Warde

The Mustangs will face FCIAC teams with a strength in the distance events, but they might need to overcome a disadvantage in depth, says Justin Ottavio, in his ninth year as head coach of the team. "We plan to be as competitive as possible," he said late in the preseason. The Mustangs have lost six seniors from last year's team.

Warde's captains will be seniors Aidan Fiol, Mohammed Seyal and Gary Azarian.

Fiol will run 3,200 meters. He placed ninth in the indoor track and field State Open at 3,200 meters in February as well as sixth in Class L. He was 10th in Class L last spring in the outdoor 3,200. In cross country, he placed 12th in the FCIAC Championships, fourth in Class LL, 14th at the State Open and 21st at the New England Championships.

Azarian is the Warde record-holder in the triple jump. He finished 16th in the Class L long jump in the winter after placing fifth at the FCIAC Championships. Azarian was ninth in the FCIAC triple jump last spring. Seyal was eighth in Class L in the indoor 300-meter dash.

Senior Colin McKeown is within two feet of setting a new school record in the shot put. He was 13th in last spring's FCIAC Championships. Junior Michael Kathein is within a foot of the Mustangs' standard in the javelin. He placed 14th in the Class L Championships in 2013, following a seventh-place finish in the conference meet.

Last year, Warde compiled a 4-6-1 regular-season dual-meet record competing in the FCIAC East. The Mustangs finished 14th of 16 teams in the conference championship meet.

The season opens Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at Ludlowe's Taft Field in a meet with the Falcons, Bassick and Harding.

Fairfield Ludlowe

The Falcons won't have enough coverage in the field events to make being competitive in all dual meets not an issue. Fairfield Ludlowe will be a young team, but many of its outdoor track athletes showed plenty of improvement in the winter during the indoor season.

The team does not have much depth but will rely on its youth. Nine seniors on the team last year graduated in June.

"Most of those athletes return for spring, so it will be fun to see how much better they can get in the spring," said David Nulf, in his seventh year as outdoor track coach, though he has 16 years coaching Ludlowe indoor or outdoor teams as an assistant or head coach. Senior Josh Archer, who will run distance events and throw the javelin, and junior sprinter Zach Kenton will the Falcons' captains.

Junior Cole Gottleib will run sprints and freshman David Bates will be in distance events, as will sophomore Dan Leto.

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"This is a fun group to be around, very supportive and positive overall," Nulf said.

Ludlowe went 5-7 overall last spring and 4-7 in the FCIAC Central in 2013. The Falcons placed 13th of 16 teams in the FCIAC Championship meet last spring. Norwalk, Ridgefield and McMahon, the three teams that finished ahead of the Falcons in the FCIAC Central a year ago, are Nulf's choices as the top team in the division this spring.

The season opens Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at home in a meet with the Warde, Bassick and Harding.

Fairfield Prep

Inadequate depth limited the Jesuits to a 3-8 regular-season dual meet record a year ago in the SCC. But the strong performances by some outstanding front-line talent for Prep enabled it to do well in championship meets. Prep finished fifth of 20 teams in the conference championship meet before placing eighth of 24 scoring teams at the CIAC Class LL Championships and eighth of 69 teams at the State Open.

Prep athletes won the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and the 4-by-400-meter and 4x800 relays in the SCC Championships in 2013.

Seniors James Mulliken, Matt Scholl and Keith Pettway and junior Alex Marchese are the captains for coach Mark Langston.

Senior Christian Alvarado is the defending champion in Class LL and the State Open at 3,200 meters. Mulliken placed third in the Class LL 800 last year and was sixth in that event at the State Open. Senior Alex Hilton, who is trying to overcome injury and illness, Scholl and senior Andy Thane are expected to post competitive times in the distance events, which is the Jesuits' strong suit.

Junior Vincent D'Amore was fifth in the SCC javelin a year ago and 14th in the state class meet.

Assistant coach Bob Ford Jr., Prep's head coach in cross country, said the staff is expecting 2014 to be a rebuilding year in the jumps, throws and sprints. "We have some good young prospects in a number of events," said Ford, who noted the Jesuits' disadvantage without facilities for pole vault and high jump on campus.

Notre Dame-Fairfield

No report on Notre Dame-Fairfield is featured because a request to submit information on the team by the coach was not received in time.