By Nick Curcuru
---- — With the program working so well in the winter, the Gloucester track program is going with a co-ed track program again this spring, but taking it one step further.
Jeff Destino, who will be entering his fourth season coaching the Gloucester boys track program, takes the reigns as head coach of the entire program this spring. He split duties with Liz Moran in the winter.
The setup is very similar to the way it was in the indoor season this winter. Destino is the head coach and will be working with the sprinters, Packy Fusco will be working with the throwers, Joe Brancaleone and Cary Lipovsky handle the distance runners and volunteer assistant David Brooks will help out with the hurdles and high jump.
The system was very well received in the winter by coaches and players.
“We aren’t re-inventing the wheel here,” Destino said. “A lot of programs have the same system we do. It works well for both the kids and the coaches. As coaches, we can work more closely with the kids in their individual events and that extra attention can only help their performance.”
When it comes to the success of the co-ed system, the proof is in the pudding as the Fishermen showed lots of improvements this winter. The Gloucester boys were 4-3 in conference play this winter but finished second at the Northeastern Conference Meet and sent several kids to the State Meet, including two to the All State Meet in Jacob Holscher and Matt Carpenter.
The girls were also competitive at 3-3 sending an increased number of participants to the Division 2 State Meet in February.
The program received more good news when tryouts opened up two weeks ago as more than 80 kids are participating this season, which nearly solves a big time numbers issue that has plagued the program over the last handful of seasons.
When Gloucester takes the track for its first meet of the season on Wednesday (at Lynn English, 4:00 p.m.), it will do so with 45 boys and 36 girls on the roster. With so many events in spring track, the increased numbers should give Gloucester a full roster in each race, a luxury the program hasn’t had in the past.
“It takes about 40 kids on a roster to really be able to compete in each event so we are in good shape,” Destino said.
There’s plenty of talent to go around on both the boys and girls sides this spring. So much talent that a Northeastern Conference Small title is within reach for both squads.
The boys team brings a balanced roster to the table with talent in every area.
Senior captain Holscher and senior Noah Mondello will power the distance runners this spring as both have plenty of experience and success at the state level. Holscher enters the spring after breaking out in a big way in the indoor season, establishing himself as one of the state’s best with a top five finish at the Indoor All State Meet in the mile and a seventh place finish in the New England Championships. Holscher will be relied on this spring to turn in steady points for the Fishermen.
Everest Crawford is also a distance runner to watch as he too established himself as one of the state’s best over the winter, which is a scary thought for the NEC this spring given the fact that he is only a sophomore.
Senior captain Matt Carpenter leads the way in the middle distance races for Gloucester after a strong winter campaign that also saw him in the All State Meet. Junior Calvin Kipruto will lead the way for Gloucester in the sprint races. Kipruto already holds the school record in the 400m (51.28) set last May and he is looking to improve upon that record this season.
Josh Rudolph is also an athlete to keep an eye on this spring as he excels on the track and in the field events.
“The goal is a Northeastern Conference Small title,” Destino said. “This team has a lot of talent and the work ethic to go with it. I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform this spring.”
While the Gloucester girls do not have the same stable of established stars that the boys team has, there is still plenty of talent to go around.
The Gloucester girls will be led by an outstanding quartet of captains this spring. Bianca Giacalone, the school’s indoor 300m record holder, is looking to keep her strong senior campaign going leading the way for Gloucester in the sprint events. Senior Elle Wierbicky battled injuries during the winter season but when on the track, she has proven time and again to be one of the best sprinters/middle distance runners the Northeastern Conference has to offer.
Senior thrower Liz McCormack will once again be one of the best shot putters in the Northeastern Conference while junior Fiona Davis of Manchester Essex - the Gloucester program has combined with Manchester Essex for the second straight spring - will lead the charge in the distance races.
“There are a lot of underclassmen on the girls side but there’s a lot of talent,” Destino said. “Our captains are great both in talent and leadership and I think there’s more than enough talent to compete for a conference title. The NEC title is the main goal for both teams and it’s nice to see them working hard in the preseason to get there.”
2013 Spring Track Capsules Gloucester Boys Head Coach: Jeff Destino Last Year's Record: 5-3 Captains: Jacob Holscher, Sr.; Matt Carpenter, Sr.; Alex Lucido, Sr. Key Runners to Watch: Josh Rudolph, Sr.; Noah Mondello, Sr.; Calvin Kipruto, Jr.; Everest Crawford, Soph. Coach's Outlook: "Outlook is positive. This is a good group with great senior leadership. The expectations are that we can compete with anybody in the conference and our main goal is to win the conference." Gloucester Girls Head Coach: Jeff Destino Last Year's Record: 3-4 Captains: Bianca Giacalone, Sr.; Elle Wierbicky, Sr.; Liz McCormack, Sr.; Fiona Davis, Jr. Key Runners to Watch: Hannah Pastagal, Soph. Coach's Outlook: "Like the boys team the outlook is positive and the girls also have the talent to compete with anybody in the conference and possibly win. Overall for both teams we want to win the NEC and qualify as many kids for the state meet as we can."