“It’s awesome that there’s so many kids interested in the sport,” said Hayford. “This is going to be our biggest team yet.”
Hayford’s roster, while still a little in flux, shows 12 boys and nine girls on the team. That is the largest squad in the decade Hayford has been coaching track and field at Twin Valley.
Twin Valley will again use the facilities at Brattleboro Union High School as home base, as there is no track at the Twin Valley campus in Whitingham. But that’s not a big issue for Hayford or his team. “It shows how committed the kids are,” he said. “They’re willing to travel 45 minutes one way to practice.”
Hayford is hopeful that commitment will lead to both individual and team glory this spring. The Wildcats will be competing in division 4, and with the large squad, Hayford sees the opportunity for the team to place during meets and in state finals in June.
“Teamwise, we could be in the hunt for a top-five finish,” said Hayford. “There are 26 schools listed as division 4 participants, but they won’t all have full teams. That could help us get there. We’ll see.”
Hayford said that even though other Twin Valley varsity teams play a level up in division 3, track was relegated to division 4 due in part to the lack of home field facilities. Hayford is not disappointed about dodging that bullet come the finals, noting that division 3 “has some pretty good programs and really tough teams.”
There are a number of athletes who return with experience including, on the boys’ side, senior Chad Bernard, juniors Cooper Pell and Paul Johnson, and sophomores Gunnar Nilsen and Dylan Howe. Bernard will be running sprints and relays, and competing in the long jump. Howe and Nilsen will do some running, high jump, and participate in the throwing events.
“Dylan (Howe) had some great results last year in the triple jump, discus, and high jump,” said Hayford. He’s also bullish on Pell in the high, long, and triple jumps, noting he has “explosive power and could compete for a state title in the triple jump.”
Johnson will focus on the field events. “Paul’s a big kid who wants to throw things,” said Hayford.
The team will be rounded out by a group of first-time athletes: freshmen Logan Boyd, Casey Sibilia, and Yoengjun Yoo; junior Logan Park; and exchange students Iker Rodriguez and Luis Guerra. Hayford said the newcomers are still sorting out the events they will participate in.
The girls’ team will also be anchored by a number of veteran athletes. Sophomore Morgan Janovsky, junior Grace Rizio, and seniors Kyla Lavoy, Karlee Walkowiak, and Caitlin Hunt all have experience in a variety of events.
“Morgan ran the 100-meter dash, the 100-meter hurdles, and long jumped last year,” said Hayford. “Karlee and Caitlin will run the 4x100 relay for sure. Caitlin had a second place finish in the triple jump at a meet last year, and a fifth in the long jump. Kyla had some good results in the high jump.”
Joining them for the first time are seniors Kassidy Walkowiak and Makayla Boyd; junior Tatyanna Bowman; and exchange student Francesca Pozzi. As with their counterparts on the boys’ squad, the new members will be trying a variety of events. Hayford did note that the long-legged Bowman “could be a really good hurdler.”
The Wildcats’ first meet is scheduled for 10 am on Saturday, May 13, at Fair Haven Union High School. That will be followed by a meet in Bennington at Mount Anthony on May 16 and the first home meet of the season on May 19 at BUHS. Both of those meets start at 4 pm.