BRISTOL - Bristol Central boys track coach Tamara Stafford-Kirk has been starving for a state championship in outdoor track since taking over the Rams in 1998.
“It’s hard to do,” she said. “There are a select few coaches who win outdoor championships because it has to be a culmination of so many things coming together. It’s just something I’d like to do for the school and for our program before I pack it in here.”
Stafford-Kirk thinks this season could provide one of the best opportunities for the Rams to win that coveted Class L state title.
“I think that we’re a very strong team this year,” she said.
Last year the Rams placed third in Class L.
“Honestly, we’ve grown quite a lot this year,” junior Jose Ramirez said. “We wanna place really well at states. We got third last year, and we wanna just take that same energy and that same mindset into this year. We’re developing really well, and I think overall as a team - boys and girls - we still have a lot more to give.”
These Rams have a togetherness that could end up being the ultimate trump card in seeing them achieve a banner dream.
“We’re more than a team here,” Ramirez said. “We’re like family. We’re really close, and when you train really long, hard hours every day and put in the mileage during the weekend, it just becomes like a part of you. To me, it’s more than just a sport. It’s what I do.”
Central boasts one of the best distance teams in the state, as Mark Petrosky is dominant in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and Nate DeAngelo, Pacifico Flores and Benjamin Stafford are all great runners as well. Petrosky and DeAngelo battled to a 1-2 finish, respectively, in the 1,600 meters in Tuesday’s meet against Bristol Eastern. Petrosky (10:31) also edged out DeAngelo (10:43) in the two-mile race in a tight battle.
“My distance runners were young last year, so they didn’t score where we thought they could,” Stafford-Kirk said of the Class L meet. “Now they’re one year more mature and coming off a good cross country season with a runner-up finish. I think they’re ready to move up and score some points this year.”
The Rams’ relay teams are also strong, as the 4x800 team of Austin Freve, Petrosky, Flores and Ramirez; the 4x100 (Jose Navedo, Ramon Ambert, Wilmer Rivera-Ortiz, David Bowes); and the 4x400 team (Ramirez, Ambert, Tre Jones, Bowes) all took first on Tuesday.
“Honestly, I feel like more this year [our relays] have gotten progressively better, and we just want it more and more,” Ramirez said. “You can tell by everyone’s performances. The 4x8 wants to make it. We wanna place well at states, go to State Opens and go to New England and compete for nationals.”
Navedo is also a standout, taking Tuesday’s crown in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. In the 800-meter race, Austin Freve (2:02), Pacifico Flores (2:03) and Devin Flores (2:09) are neck-and-neck. Bowes, meanwhile, is the Rams’ top sprinter in the 100 and 200 meters and Hunter Peterson is their top jumper, a standout in the long, triple and high jumps.
“The next two years we’re going for it. We want that Class L championship,” Stafford-Kirk said.