CHS track captains aiming for greatness in final seasonBy Mike Berger
The spring track season is nearly here, and CHS seniors Vicky Tondre and Cam Huber are both aiming for the stars after dominating their respective events this past winter.
Tondre is coming off multiple championships in the long jump — at the Hockomock League and Division 3 meets — and also was the league runner-up in the 55-meter dash. She went on to finish eighth in the long jump at All-States and was selected to the All-New England meet as an alternate.
Huber won the Division 3 title in the 600 in a very exciting race, edging his opponent by less than a second. A week later at All-States he finished 12th out of 18 runners.
The two co-captains have a lot in common. Both are consistent, dependable runners who are important cogs on the relay team. They both played key roles in the success of their fall soccer teams, and both resurrected their track careers after serious leg and knee injuries. Both also decided to leave basketball to turn their full attention to track.
Huber, as a freshman, was a promising young center who saw some action late in the season on the varsity basketball team. But he broke his leg the following year in a soccer game and ultimately decided that track was more enjoyable for him.
This spring, Huber will compete in the 800, the high jump, and as a member of the 4×400 relay team, which should be a formidable unit after finishing second at the Division 3 indoor championships. Besides Huber, the team consists of Obi Nwankwo, Evan Feldman, and Jake Fruci.
Huber said he likes the competition of track and the challenge of running better times in each race. He hopes to major in finance at the University of Connecticut next year and is currently working at Olympia Sports at the Village Shoppes.
CHS head indoor track coach Ben Mattson has gotten to know Huber well this winter and has been impressed by his consistency and leadership.
“Cam really executes the race strategy,” Mattson said. “He does a lot of great things on the track, both in the 600 and on the relay team. He has a great makeup and is an excellent role model. I also think he is going to have a great spring.”
For Tondre, it has been a long road back, not only coming off a serious ACL injury, but also learning a new footwork strategy from Mattson that changed her approach to the long jump but ultimately led her to multiple championships this winter.
A tremendous all-around athlete, Tondre captained the soccer team in each of the past two seasons. She also played freshman basketball and had an impressive freshman season on the track team, scoring several points in the sprints, long jump and triple jump.
But towards the end of her freshman year, her world turned upside down. Playing club soccer, she tore her ACL and MCL and had immediate surgery. With encouragement from her parents, Lorie and Paul, as well as her doctors and physical therapists, Tondre worked hard to rehab her knee and was able to return to the soccer field late in the following season with the aid of a knee brace. Her doctor told her that he was concerned about the contact of basketball, so Tondre decided to turn her full attention to track.
With the strength in her knee beginning to return, Tondre participated in winter track as a sophomore and became an important part of the 4×200 relay team that finished second in Division 3.
Later that spring, she placed second in the league meet in the 200 and finished among the top 10 in the triple jump.
In the winter of her junior year, Mattson advised Tondre to change her approach by switching her takeoff foot. He said her knee was strong enough to handle it but that it would be a mental adjustment. “When he first told me, I thought he was crazy,” Tondre recalled.
Trusting her coach, Tondre went on to have a strong winter season, winning the league championship in the long jump and finishing among the top four in the 55-meter dash.
She carried that momentum over to the spring where she won the league championship in the 200 and finished fifth in that event at the divisional meet while also placing among the top six long jumpers. “But something was missing,” she said. “I was running very well, but my jumping was frustrating. I could not go over 17 feet.”
With a goal of refining her jumping form, Tondre practiced throughout the summer, running long distances, swimming, and working on her approach to the long jump.
She went on to have an exciting fall season as she helped lead the girls’ soccer team to the brink of a state title. She also went into the indoor track season feeling good both physically and mentally.
With her practice in the long jump now paying off, Tondre consistently cleared 17 feet and her speed increased. She finished second in the league meet in the 55-meter dash and hit 17 feet, three inches to win the D3 championship.
“This winter was so much fun for me,” she said. “It’s something that I will never forget. My goal now is to win the state championship this spring, but I know I have to continue to work hard and take it one step at a time.”
Tondre is considering colleges such as UMass Lowell, UNH, Bridgewater State, and UMass Amherst as she looks to pursue a teaching career in elementary education. An honor roll student, she was also named to the MIAA Student Advisory Committee.
When asked what she would tell other athletes who suffer serious leg injuries, Tondre replied, “Listen to your doctors and physical therapists. You aren’t going to make it back 100 percent all at once. It will take time.”
Mattson said he is proud of what Tondre has accomplished so far in track and believes that the future is bright for her, both as an athlete and as a student.
“I met Vicky her sophomore year and I knew quickly how talented she was,” Mattson said. “Once I knew her knee was back 100 percent, I knew that switching her takeoff leg and form would be in her best interests for her to continue to advance. Now she is the poster child for running and jumping form. I think she will have a tremendous spring.”
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