Montville - Jose "Pasta" Sanabria has always believed in being a multi-sport athlete, competing in football and track in high school at New London and then at Delaware State.
"Growing up in New London, I was always taught that being an all-around athlete can help you complete things," said Sanabria, an assistant football coach at Ledyard now coaching the Colonels' boys' track team for the first time.
"This helps me be an all-around coach."
On Tuesday, Sanabria's team made him the winning coach, too, as Ledyard defeated Montville 81-69 in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division matchup. Montville (1-2, 1-1) is the defending Medium Division champ, while Ledyard (2-2, 2-0) is in its first season there after moving down from the Large Division.
Ledyard's girls also beat Montville, last year's Medium Division co-champion, 87-62.
"In the Large Division, you didn't have a chance," Ledyard girls' coach Dave Tetlow said. "This is real nice. Everybody's competitive."
In the boys' meet, Ledyard's Corey Coates won the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 11.6 seconds and ran a leg of the winning 4x800 and 4x400 relays. The meet was tied 63-63 when Coates, Ben Bruciati, Steve Servedio and Alex Hintz-Valdez won the 4x400 in 3:39.8, putting the Colonels up for good with a few field events left to be figured in.
"There was a lot of pressure, a lot of adrenaline going into that race," Coates said of the 4x400. "I had a feeling we'd do well.
"... (The win over Montville) was good for our self-esteem, good to find out where we are. Class M (the Medium Division) picked it up this year. There's a lot of really, really good competition."
Greg Knight won the shot put and the javelin for Ledyard, which had to fend off an all-star performance from Montville's Brandon Johnson, who finished with wins in the 110 hurdles (14.6), 100 (11.2), 200 (23.0) and long jump (20 feet, 1 inch).
Montville also boasts the up-and-coming distance crew of junior Jesse Joseph and sophomore Dan Linkinhoker, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 respectively, and who also helped propel the Indians to a two-point Medium Division win a week ago against Waterford.
Sanabria credits Ledyard captains Andrew Kline, Coates, Steven Galloway, Knight and Chris Zeppieri for bringing their leadership to the team.
Sanabria took over a short time before the season started when former coach Kyle Griffin stepped down due to an illness in his family. The team had to make a fast adjustment to the style of its new coach, who quickly had them running stadium stairs.
"The kids were like, 'Where'd this come from?'" Sanabria said of his tough workouts. "This is what I used to do. Sometimes it takes mixing the old with the new. I try to keep the kids animated, just feeling good, try to bring a couple quotes or phrases. I say, 'Who you with?' It's like, 'Who loves you?'
"... My mom told me if you're a shepherd and you bring praise and energy, then they'll follow you. I'm doing as much as you can."
In the girls' meet, meanwhile, Lauren Scahill won the 1,600, 800 and ran a leg of the winning 4x400 team for Ledyard, joining her sister Brooke Scahill, Lindsey Ackley and Minnie Zhang to finish the final event on the track in 4:21.3.
Ledyard's Cedar Nelson won the 3,200 and ran a leg on the winning 4x800 team, while shot putter Adedoyin Ladoja threw a personal best 35-8 for the victory. Ledyard is 4-0, 2-0, but is expected to face tough competition in the division from Plainfield.
Montville (1-2, 1-1) was led by Shatajah Wattely, who won the 100, 200 and 400, and Natalie Bowens, who took the triple jump, long jump and ran on the winning 4x100 team.
"Our kids competed," Montville girls' coach Joel Finnegan said.
Said Montville boys' coach Tim Egan of Ledyard: "They have a lot more bullets than we have. But I thought we were much better (than last week) today."