The Essex High School boys track and field team finished seventh at last year’s Division I state meet, the program’s lowest finish since taking fourth in 2000.
For a program with 15 state crowns, including seven in the last decade, 2012 was an aberration. Reinforcements, however, are on the way.
While a roster upwards of 80 boys — large even by Essex’s standards — will provide depth and numbers, the addition of a pair of indoor standouts might very well lead the Hornets back to the top of Vermont track and field.
Sprinter Kevin Conchieri and jumps specialist Bobby Evans, two seniors who were key contributors as Essex seized the indoor crown this winter, have joined and are poised to deliver in the outdoor season.
Evans claimed all three jumps — high, long and triple — while Conchieri raced to first in the 55-meter dash and was third in the 300 at the indoor state meet. After playing baseball in his first three years at Essex, Conchieri has turned to outdoor track to improve his stock for college. Evans, who was member of the track team as a freshman, will split his time this spring with the rugby squad, his primary sport.
“It’s my last year and I want to give it all I’ve got,” Conchieri said.
Evans said he’s more prepared to balance two sports, especially with a schedule that doesn’t pose many conflicts.
“Just because I could,” said Evans of taking on a second sport. “When I tried doing this sophomore year, rugby just took over I guess. I love rugby and outdoor is so much fun.”
A spike in numbers can be traced back to Conchieri, Evans and others who campaigned for classmates and friends to join.
“We definitely tried to get more kids out. Track’s a sport you can win by numbers,” Conchieri said.
Longtime coach Joe Gonillo said the two seniors are a welcome addition.
“6-4 high jumpers don’t grow on trees. That’s getting up there. And you can’t fight speed — you can’t grow sprinters,” Gonillo said. “These guys are phenomenal athletes. I’m glad they are out. I think that we are in a whole lot better shape with them than without them.”
Conchieri made a smooth transition in his first meet, cruising to wins in the 100 (11.63) and 200 (23.93) in last week’s opener.
Evans was also impressive in the same meet, notching firsts in high jump (5-10), long jump (21-0.5) and triple jump (41-0.25).
“Bobby and I are just going to do our best to score as many points as we can, but in the end, it’s a team effort,” Conchieri said. “We need everybody to pitch in and I think we can definitely do that.”