Conard Winter Sports Season: A Step Towards Normalcy
By: Noah White
This season, just like every November, the last of the leaves fell from the trees and the days became shorter and shorter. But something was different this year: Conard winter sports were back in full swing. After a year in which winter athletics were frequently canceled and put on the back burner, this year revived a love that many Conard students hold. A variety of Conard athletes have competed in a season signifying a step on the path back to normalcy, a previously-held standard for what the winter sports season stands for. Although they’ve encountered challenges, such as on-again-off-again student spectator policies and full requirement of masks, these student-athletes have persisted to produce a sports season like no other. They’ve consistently shown their ability to overcome any and all difficulties. These athletes have come a long way in assisting the Conard community in maintaining sanity throughout the times of Omicron by producing some incredibly successful seasons. With a month left in the season, let’s take a look at what these Conard athletes have accomplished so far.
After a year in which participation in the sport was greatly hindered, wrestling arrived back in the spotlight once again this year. The Conard wrestling team has been back in action with wins including that of New Britain and Windsor. Featuring wrestlers such as Julian Zaleski and Kent Goerner, Conard wrestling still has three matchups remaining on their schedule along with possible Class LL and State playoff competition. We look forward to seeing the success they are sure to experience in the coming weeks.
Conard boys indoor track athletes (L-R) Callum and Gavin Sherry
Although there is relatively no significant statistical information on the boys and girls indoor track teams nor the girls gymnastics team, all of these teams have competed fully throughout this winter season. The girls gymnastics team received their highest score of the season up until this point, achieving a 128.15 against Wethersfield. In the coming weeks featured matchups include competitions against Farmington and Ellington. The boys’ and girls’ indoor track teams both still have remaining possible playoff level meets throughout February as the number of scheduled matches dwindles in the last week of January. Both the gymnastics and indoor track teams should have the ability to compete in playoff competitions so we wish them the best of luck in those endeavors.
The Conard basketball teams have been arguably the most successful thus far this season. The women’s basketball team currently holds a 7-7 record which features wins over RHAM, Northwest Catholic, and most importantly Hall. They’ve yet to have a game be canceled, marking a tremendous feat. The remaining games include repeated matchups with Glastonbury, Simsbury, and Hall along with a first-time matchup with Bristol Eastern. They are currently ranked 66th in the state and 17th in Division LL. The Conard boys basketball team has also been incredibly successful this season. They hold a 10-1 record and are led by sophomore Riley Fox, junior Ryan Bushnell, and seniors Michael Weiss and Jalen Hamblin. Fox notably set the Conard boys basketball record for most points in a game with 50 against Bukeley in only 3 quarters. Their team is currently ranked #4 in Connecticut Division II. They still have 9 games left on their regular-season schedule but if they maintain this pace they should have the opportunity to compete for a conference and state title.
Riley Fox and coach Jared Leghorn after Fox’s 50-point game
Conard boys hockey and the Conard-Hall Warchiefs have both had successful seasons rebounding from their shortened and mostly uncompetitive seasons last year. The Conard boys hockey team, captained by Jack Wenz, Harrison Sweeney, Brian Fehl, and assistant captain Gavin Mcgowan, currently holds a 4-6-1 record. This is a drastic improvement from their 0-4 record in reported games last year. They are led by top goal-scorer Jack Wenz and still have 9 remaining games, including two against cross-town rival Hall for the first time since their separation into two distinct teams. The Warchiefs, a combo-team between both Hall and Conard for women's hockey, has also been highly successful this year. They currently hold an 8-3-1 record with 7 games remaining prior to possible playoff opportunities. Bridget Mcgann, lead goal scorer and captain, is accompanied by twins Sam and Ana Haubrich (all Hall seniors) in leading the Warchiefs to a record already exceeding the number of wins earned last season. We offer the best of wishes to these teams in the coming weeks.
The Conard men’s swim and diving team has also competed throughout this winter although only to the tune of 5 meets. They are currently 1-4 but still have 6 meets remaining and have worked hard and been competitive in every meet thus far.
This season has been marked by the overcoming of challenges by student-athletes across all winter sports. In order to better understand the differences between this year and last year and the challenges faced this season I interviewed Warchiefs captain and center Ana Haubrich. She explained that, “last year the winter season began much later than this year,” and that they, “only competed in 12 games and…against only teams in our conference with virtually no travel distance.” She contrasted the encroached-upon season last year with that of this year stating, “This year we’re playing at least 20 games and teams all over the state.” Clearly, winter athletics is providing a level of normalcy in the eyes of the student-athlete. She also went on to delineate the challenges she faces as a student-athlete throughout these constantly-shifting times. She explained that with the various difficulties of the pandemic and the long hockey season, “sometimes it is too much and I need to take a mental and physical break.” She details that she works to keep a positive mindset but believes that a number of Conard athletes feel the same stresses and fatigue that she does.
This interview embodies the difficulties that have accompanied this sport’s season but also the relief and joy felt by athletes thankful for the return of a sense of normalcy. It is important to be conscious of the stresses of being a student-athlete in times such as this one in order to better understand what goes into each of the records detailed. These athletes continue to push themselves and remain dedicated to their athletics despite all the difficulties that they have had to overcome and those that still remain. They should be applauded for all that they’ve succeeded in accomplishing! Thank you Conard athletes!