Orange Live Sports Writer
Despite having 4 of his top 7 runners from last fall graduate in June, the word “rebuild” never comes out of the mouth of veteran Coach Bob Orgovan. As he begins his 37th year at the helm of the Spartan harriers, Orgovan is in the midst of reloading his roster. The 2011 season was a glorious one for the Spartans. In addition to winning the Housatonic Division championship with a 4-0 record, the Black and Gold ended up 9-0 overall, second (to Xavier) in the Southern Connecticut Conference, sixth in Class LL, and then fourth in both the State Open and the New England Championship race. Amity currently has qualified for 9 successive New Englands, which is longest qualifying streak in the Nutmeg State .
Clark Shurtleff, Adam Kelley, Nate Arndt, and Brendan Regan were all along the team’s top 7 runners last fall and departed in June.
Returning will be senior Shae Belinksi, who currently holds down the No.1 spot on the team, senior Captain Brian Dunleavy at No 2, and his twin brother Connor Dunleavy in the No. 3 hole. Rounding uot the top 7 varsity runners are: junior Aaron Barkin, junior Mikke Yuan, senior Anthony Bartella, and junio Brian Moser.
Asked about his team’s chances for success this fall, Orgovan said, “We do have some talented, experienced runners but after the first 3 guys, we lack experience. Our goals for this season are to win the Housy again; place among the top 3 in the SCC (Fairfield Prep and Xavier appear to be Amity’s toughest competition); qualify for the State Open by finishing among the top 6 in Class LL; and, qualify again for the New Englands by finishing among the top 6 teams in the Open.”
He added, “Those goals are not easy but they are attainable. It is possible we could do as well as we did last year. That’s not out of the question. In order to do that, we have to avoid injuries to our top runners. If our 1,2, or 3 guys get hurt, we could be in big trouble. Our No. 4-7 guys are inexperienced. As they gain experience during the season, their times will drop and their confidence should grow.”
The Spartans head into Saturday’s season-open Windham Invitational in Willimantic ranked No. 3 in the state (behind Danbury and Xavier with Prep right behind Amity). The Spartans kick off their season in the Varsity No. 2 race which gets underway at 1 PM.