(Grant Nieves was our Player of the Year on the gridiron after dominating in all three phases during his senior season)
Boy Cross Country: Jalen Coleman (Middletown): Coleman proved to be the best distance runner in the area with his strong showing at the CCC (Central Connecticut Conference) finals and an even better showing at the Class L finals. The Middletown senior earned all-conference for his accomplishment on the cross country trails, as well as earning the same honor for his endurance runningin both indoor and outdoor track during the winter and spring.
Girls Cross Country: Lilah Devine (Rocky Hill): Devine took her trail running to a new level as a sophomore, finishing atop the leaderboard during the CCC tournament and then improving her time in the Class M tourney, where she placed 8th. The natural born strider also excelled during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, winning the 1600 meter at the Class M outdoor championships and being part of incredible relay teams in both the winter and spring.
Field Hockey: Karley Welles (Newington): This is Welles third time receiving this honor, wrapping up an incredible field hockeycareer at Newington. Despite a position change, the senior saved her best performance for her final season, tallying 32 points this fall (upping her career total to 103) and earning first-team all-state. The 3x All-CCC recipient will continue her field hockey journey at Southern Connecticut State University in the fall.
Football: Grant Nieves (Rocky Hill): Nieves beat out a tough field to earn this honor. Rocky Hill’s lighting rod flourished in all three phases of the game, as one of the state’s best running backs and returners and earning all-state defensive recognition for his play in the defensive backfield. The terrific three-way senior rarely left the field and helped carry the Terriers to the Class S championshipgame.
Boys Soccer: Lukas Szymecki (Wethersfield): Szymecki will continue his soccer career at SCSU after finishing up four fantastic years at Wethersfield. Last fall he earned his second all-state selection and his third all-conference honor after helping the Eagles reach the quarterfinals of the Class L tourney. All told, the soon-to-be Owl scored 61 goals and dished out 20 assists during four varsity seasons at the Dub.
Girls Soccer: Lindsey Fairbank (Newington): Fairbank took over the role vacated by legend Kaila Lozada, who graduated last year, and she excelled in the new role, earing the Team Leadership Award. The senior was a consistent offensive force and vocal leaderfor the Indians this fall, making all-conference and guiding the team to quarterfinals in Class LL.
Girls Swimming: Abigail Francis (Wethersfield): Francis made waves as a sophomore, winning the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke at the conference championships and placing 2nd and 4thin the events at the Class L finals. The aquatic prodigy also competed at the State Open, placing 3rd and 8th in the same events.
Girls Diving: Cassandra More (Middletown): More proved to be the area’s best diver, placing 16th and outperforming many divers that were originally ranked ahead of her at the Class L finals. The junior is more than just a diver, doubling as one of the Blue Dragon’s best jumpers during the outdoor track & field season.
Girls Volleyball: Victoria Cholodecki (Cromwell): Cholodecki was a captain on a Panthers team which reached the quarterfinals in the Class S tourney. The senior led the team in kills (nearly 2.5 per set) and was second on the team in aces and digs. During her time at Cromwell, she was also an accomplished thrower and jumper duringthe track & field seasons.
Boys Basketball: Jared Simmons (Newington): Simmons capped off a remarkable career at Newington, earning his third straight all-state honor after averaging 22 points and dishing out seven assist per game. The senior became the face of local basketball and made All-CCC in each of his four seasons on Newington’s hardwood and this was his third time receiving this recognition, which probably ranks pretty low on his lengthy list of accolades.
Girls Basketball: Brielle Wilborn (Middletown): Wilborn was somehow overlooked for all-state recognition despite averaging 19 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks per game as a senior. The three-time All-CCCer, who is also the back-to-back Class L shotput champion, is staying local to play basketball after committing to the University of Hartford.
Gymnastics: Abigail Sullivan (Wethersfield): Sullivan pirouetted onto Connecticut’s gymnastic scene this winter, performing admirably at the vault and floor exercise at Class M finals and then having a solid all-around showing at the State Open. The junior’sefforts earned her an all-conformance selection.
Ice Hockey: Paul Wheatley (Wethersfield): Wheatley helped theEagles hockey team get within a breath of a Division III title appearance with his spectacular play all season. The senior captainled the team in goals with 26 and tallied the second most overall points with 37, earning the prolific forward all-state and all-conference honors. He wrapped up his athletic career at Wethersfield with another All-CCC selection on the links.
Boys Indoor Track & Field: Laurenzo Thompkins(Middletown): Tompkins was part of a once in a lifetime group of speedsters at Middletown. The senior won the 55 meter hurdles at the Class L finals, after finishing as the runner-up at the conference championships, and was part of the 4x200 relay team that won both the conference and Class L title. He’s running, or should I say sprinting off to Central Connecticut State University.
Girls Indoor Track & Field: Julia Chrostowski (Wethersfield):Chrostowski was equally impressive on the track and in the field. The versatile junior posted fourth-place showings in the 55 meters hurdle at the conference and Class L championships and took home 2nd place in the high jump at the class finals.
Boys Swimming: Mack Sullivan (Rocky Hill): Sullivan was the consummate professional and a coach’s delight during his time at Rocky Hill, always sacrificing for the team. The charismatic captain was named the team MVP in 2017 and earned all-CCC after a placing 5th in the 100 yard breaststroke at the Class S finals. The graduating senior is off to swim at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.
Boys Diving: Tahj Mitchell-Westberry (Middletown): Mitchell-Westberry followed up his all-state junior campaign with another solid season, in which he set a new school-record. The senior had a top-ten finish at Class L finals and competed at the State Open. Next year he’ll be diving for SCSU.
Wrestling: Tom Gatti (Middletown): Gatti earned his second straight all-conference selection following a runner-up finish (152 lbs.) at the Class L finals and a 4th place showing at the State Open. The graduating grappler was also the recipient of the Colter Abely Fund Scholarship and was an accomplished student in the classroom at MHS.
Cheer & Dance: Wethersfield High School: Cheer and Dance is the ultimate team sports and therefore we award the entire squad. WHS always fields great groups and this year was no exception, as the dance team finished in 1st in the Jazz Division and 3rd in thePOM Division at the Dance Championships in New Haven. The Eagles cheer squad was led by all-conference athletes Samantha Rosa, Sara Puglielli, Sarina Tucker, and Olivia Zurzola.
Baseball: Jimmy Sullivan (Wethersfield): Sullivan still has one more season left on the diamond at Wethersfield, but he’s already committed to play Division I baseball at the University of Virginia in 2019. As a junior, the uber-talented outfielder earned all-state honors and was also a standout on the hardwood, earning an All-CCC selection.
Boys Golf: Andrew (A.J.) Sanzaro (Wethersfield): Sanzaro’s spectacular season on the links flew under the radar, but it will not soon be forgotten. The senior shot a tourney best and was the medalist at the Division II state championships, finishing with a (-5) 67. The victory wrapped up an unforgettable season in which he also won the CCC tourney and was named the CHSCA boys players of the year. Assumption College is Sanzaro’s next stop.
Girls Golf: Logan Frame (Middletown): Frame took local golf by storm during a fantastic freshman year, which ended with an all-conference selection and a top-25 finish at states. She also plays basketball and is an honors student, meaning the Blue Dragons have three more years of excellence on the links, court and in theclassroom to look forward to.
Boys Lacrosse: Sam Cimini (Rocky Hill): Cimini has been a consistent force for Terriers lacrosse for three straight seasons and it culminated with a CCC-South title this season. The senior attackerwas a relentless scorer all spring, including a 10-goal game againstCromwell, earning him an all-state selection and all-conference for the second straight season. Rocky Hill’s rock star will head west to Arizona State University.
Girls Lacrosse: Maya Gajowiak (Newington): Gajowiak has quickly become a three-sport star at Newington and a goal-scoring machine on the lacrosse field. The sophomore earned All-CCC for asecond straight season and also excels at field hockey in the fall and basketball in the winter. NHS has two more years to enjoy the athletic prowess of Gajowiak.
Boys Outdoor Track: DeShaun Bradshaw (Middletown):Bradshaw is the posterchild for blazing speed. The senior won the 100 meter and was part of the 4x100 relay team that won a state championship. Those wins, combined with his top-four finish in the 200 meter helped Middletown win the Class L title. He also doubled as a breakaway threat on football field.
Girls Outdoor Track: Andraya Yearwood (Cromwell): Yearwood made headlines for being a transgender athlete, but her incredible speed spoke for itself after she won the 100 and 200 meters at the Class M championships as a freshman. Teammate Cara Jordan made it a clean sweep at the same event, winning the 400 meter. Yearwood went on to place 3rd (100) and 8th (200) at the State Open.
Softball: Kat Lagace (Newington): Lagace has been the face of consistency on the mound for Newington the past two seasons. In 2017, she mowed down 160 batters while winning 16 of her 22 starts, including seven shutouts on her way to an all-state selection and her second straight all-conference honors. Sage College in Albany is getting an ace.
Boys Tennis: Arian Gokhale (Rocky Hill): Gokhale has been one of the area’s best tennis players since he arrived at RHHS. The junior earned All-CCC for the third time after entering the Class S tourney as the 13th ranked player before advancing to the semifinals.The high honors athlete will be back for one more run in 2018.
Girls Tennis: Kira Bradley (Cromwell): Bradley is a perennialhonor roll student in the classroom and consistent competitor on the tennis court. The senior, who is also a distance runner, advanced to second round open championships.
Boys Volleyball: Kevin Bilbraut (Newington): Bilbraut was the heart and soul of a Newington squad that won their third championship in the past four seasons. The libero sparked a two-set rally in title game and finished the year with 359 dig, including an eye-popping 31 in the championship victory over South Windsor. The all-state senior, who starred on the soccer field in the fall, also served up 22 aces and was third on the team in digs.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin