RHAM sophomore Grace Schadtle looks to create offensively during the Raptors loss to Newington on April 19.
After graduating a talented senior class last spring, the girls’ lacrosse team at RHAM High School is slowly building chemistry with each passing game.
So far, the team has won a pair of game in their first six contents.
Despite losing to Newington 12-5 on April 19, head coach Lara Juenger liked how her team battled, particularly in the second half.
“We are a really young team, so the girls are stepping up and trying things they didn’t do before. I like our defense. We play good team defense and they are talking,” Juenger said following the game. “[Our players] got a little intimidated early, but that happens because they are young. Newington has great stick handling in front of the cage, but other than that I felt like we were evenly matched.”
Newington’s Morgan Hellman led all scorers with five goals, while Hailey Gaydos scored three times and Giuliana Stolfi added two goals.
After falling behind 5-0 at the half and 7-0 within the first few minutes of the second half, the Raptors went toe-to-toe with the senior-laden Nor'easters for the remaining 23 minutes of action.
Sophomore Maddie Graves scored a pair of goals and junior Diana Zito netted a goal and dished out two helpers to help RHAM’s rally.
Both Graves and Zito were starters last spring, giving the Raptors some experienced offensive firepower.
Junior Ciara Murray broke the ice in the second half, putting the Raptors on the board when she scooped up a loose ball and sprinted down field before scoring. A minute later, sophomore Joelle Goralnik scored after receiving a pinpoint pass from Zito.
Two minutes later, Graves netted her first goal, narrowing the deficit to 7-3 with 18:39 to play in the second half.
Senior Love Lanzuela is the team’s starting goalie for the second consecutive season. After missing the first few games of the season, she is back protecting the net and being a positive influence on the team.
“We’re getting more comfortable with each other,” Lanzuela said of the team’s chemistry. “I feel like the girls rely on me and I try to provide any advice or help in practice, and will do anything for them.”
Juenger praised her senior netminder for her infectious positive attitude, saying, “Her name is absolutely the right name for her. She lifts everyone up and is the heart of the team. She makes everyone’s time here better.”
The coach added that Lanzuela has been instrumental in mentoring sophomore goaltender Taryn Brysgel, who has been thrust into the varsity spotlight for relief duties this spring.
Senior captains Eva Morelli-Wolfe and Sydney Summerer have assumed the on-field leadership roles.
Juenger said Morelli-Wolfe was a starting defender a season ago, but switched to attack this spring to help “balance the field”.
The Raptors opened the season with an impressive 18-6 win over Windsor at RHAM High School on April 5. Two games later, they also earned a road win over a talented Rocky Hill team on April 11.
In the 11-5 win over Rocky Hill, Murray netted four goals and sophomore Grace Schadtle scored twice. Zito, Morelli-Wolfe, Kaylee Macca, Jordan Bonetti, and Nora Walker each added a goal.
Lanzuela and Brysgel combined for a dozen saves at Rocky Hill.
Both coach Juenger and Lanzuela agree that getting the younger players more comfortable on the field and that staying positive is the key to a strong finish to the season.
“We have a team rule; be kind, don’t be nice,” said Juenger. “We want to push each other but that can be intimidating with the young players, so want to be kind.”
After starting the season with a new lineup and several injuries, Juenger looks forward to what the team will look like when they are fully healthy come the second half of the season.
“We graduated a lot of really good seniors, so we have a lot of people that haven't played before,” added Juenger. “We’re just trying to get younger players confident and get more aggressive.”
Here are the Rivereast Standout Athletes of the Week for the week of April 18-24:
Catherine Misbach - Bacon Academy High School (Track & Field): Misbach won the 400 meter hurdles at The Patriot Games at Coventry High School on April 23. The senior ran a personal-best 1:12.72 at the meet, besting runner-up Mackenzie DiDonato of Thomaston by more than a second. The multi-school meet featured athletes from 30 schools around Connecticut.
Ryan Kerr - Portland High School (Tennis): Kerr won his #1 singles match against Cromwell’s Zachary Daniele (6-3, 6-0) on April 18. The junior is helping lead an extremely young group of Highlanders this spring. The Highlanders had two more matches at Portland High School remaining this spring—welcoming in Coginchaug on Wed. May 4 (3:45 p.m.) and Old Saybrook for the home finale on Mon., May 9 (4:15 p.m.).
Einin Frost – East Hampton High School (Softball): Frost was dynamite from both the plate and the mound during the Bellringers 19-2 win over Westbrook on April 18. The senior connected on two hits, driving in a pair of run and scoring four more. Frost also went the entire way, pitching five innings and striking out 10 as East Hampton jumped out to a 12-1 lead after the first inning and never looked back.
Joey Fahey - RHAM High School (Track & Field): Fahey won the javelin throw at The Patriot Games at Coventry High School on April 23. The sophomore destroyed the competition, throwing the javelin 149’01 feet, which is a personal-best and nearly four feet further than second-place finisher Mark McLaughlin of Stafford.
To nominate someone for an Athlete of the Week or with any questions or comments on sport-related topics, email Josh Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bacon Academy senior Jennifer Whipple has announced her decision to continue her academic and athletic career at Lehigh University.
“So excited to announce my commitment to do track and field at Lehigh University,” Whipple announced on social media. “Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here. Go Hawks!”
Over the last few years, Whipple has become one of the state’s best young throwers, excelling at both the shot put and discus for both the indoor and outdoor track and field teams at the high school. The senior also specializes in the hammer throw and weight throw at regional competitions.
Whipple said she first started looking at Lehigh last summer before ultimately choosing the private Pennsylvania-based University in the fall.
“I wanted to go to a school that had my major,” stated Whipple. “I also really loved the program, the team, and the coach a lot.”
At Lehigh she will major in international relations, saying she became fascinated with the field over the last couple of years after taking several social studies classes and a senior Capstone Class.
Whipple’s athletic goal heading into her final competitive season at Bacon Academy is to win a state championship during this spring’s indoor track and field season.
In February, she finished second at the Class M finals in the shot put during the indoor season and last spring she placed 4th in the shot put at the Class M championships during the outdoor season.
Most recently Whipple and Bacon Academy’s track and field team competed against 30 schools from across the state at The Patriot Games at Coventry High School. Whipple placed well across the board––finishing third in the shot put, fourth in the hammer throw, and sixth in the discus.
Whipple first joined the track and field team as a sophomore and began learning the ropes under the tutelage of teammate Natalie Rolan-Issa, who Whipple called “incredible”.
Rolan-Issa was a state champion in the shot put and top-three finisher in the discus before graduating from Bacon Academy in 2020. Rolan-Issa is currently on the track and field team at Monmouth University in New Jersey.
Whipple then met current throwing coach Damien Larkin of Bloomfield, who furthered her development and honed her throwing techniques.
She called Larkin one of her biggest influences, adding, “He’s gotten me to be a lot more competitive.”
A turning point for Whipple was earlier this year when she transitioned her throwing technique from a glide to a rotation, allowing her to get more power and distance on her throws.
“That was a really big moment, not only as a thrower but as a competitor. I turned over a new leaf of wanting to attack every throw,” Whipple recalled.
She also credits her mom, Amy Whipple, for encouraging her to break out of her shell, which allowed her to challenge herself both athletically and academically in high school.
Whipple, who was born and raised in Colchester, played basketball and lacrosse prior to finding her two athletic aspirations at Bacon Academy.
Along with being an accomplished thrower, she also excelled on the volleyball courts where she earned first-team All-Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) as the Bobcats won a Division II conference title in the fall.
She has also been part of the Bacon Academy Young Democrats for the past three years, currently serving as the group’s treasurer.
Outside of high school, Whipple enjoys reading and uses it to relax before and after competitions.
Whipple said leaving the small town feel of Colchester is bitter sweet, adding “I will miss the environment; I will miss the friends I’ve made.”
Prior to choosing a college, she looked at several other opinions but ultimately chose Lehigh, saying, “I wanted to go out of state, but not too far away from home.”
Next fall, she will be on a massive campus in Bethlehem, PA that is roughly equal distance (70-80 miles) away from both Philadelphia and New York City.
At Lehigh, she will join a Mountain Hawks program that is headed by Matt Utesch, who has been coaching the track and field programs for over a quarter-century.
Whipple’s throwing coach will be Allison Taub, an accomplished thrower and 2019-graduated from Monmouth University.
Whipple said she is excited for the college experience, both from an athletic and academic standpoint, because both will allow her to travel and experience new things.
“I’m looking forward to a lot of the opportunities I will get,” said Whipple. “I’m excited for the competition at the next level and to see where it can push me”
Top: Cromwell/Portland's Owen Brunk (left) and Teddy Williams. Bottom left: Newington's Austyn Howe with girlfriend Morgan Hellman. Bottom right: Rocky Hill's Tyreice Dominique. Williams, Howe, Brunk, and Dominique were the top four selections in the 2022 Rare Reminder Bizarro Draft.
The National Football League draft starts tonight! After a year without local high school football because of COVID, the sport returned this past fall better than ever. Here is what the first round of the draft would look like if we entered The Land of Make Believe, in which NFL teams selected from the pool of talented gridironers who starred at the five local schools. Welcome to the 7th annual Bizarro Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars are now on the clock…
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Teddy Williams (WR-Cromwell/Portland): Williams is listed as a receiver but his true position is playmaker. New head coach Doug Pederson will love his versatility, explosiveness, and knack for taking it to the house, evidenced by his 30 touchdowns in the fall. A can’t miss stud.
2. Detroit Lions: Austyn Howe (WR-Newington): Howe is another jack-of-all-trades that frequents the end zone. Ability to high-point the ball is unmatched and he may be the best athlete in the entire draft. A+ player, A+ character.
3. Houston Texans: Owen Brunk (LB-Cromwell/Portland): Brunk is the epitome of a sure-tackler (nearly 10 tackles per game and 19 for loss in the fall). New head coach Lovie Smith is getting the next Brian Urlacher with a rare combination of brute power, lateral quickness, and burst. Team-first guy.
4. New York Jets: Tyreice Dominique (DB-Rocky Hill): There is literally nothing on a football field that Dominique can’t do. He has the mind of a quarterback—which he played in the fall—and the athleticism of a decathlete. The Jets are drafting a sure-fire captain of the defensive secondary.
5. New York Giants: Mathyas Nieves (DB-Wethersfield): Nieves is a heady defensive back that plays the run and pass equally well. He has no wasted motion and his sideline-to-sideline range is elite. Thumper who averaged over 10 tackles per game and brings added value in the return game.
6. Carolina Panthers: Louie Montalvo (WR-Wethersfield): Montalvo is a magician with the ball in his mitts. Could finally be the missing piece that head coach Matt Ruhle needs to run his up-tempo Baylor-style offense. Whether it’s outside the hashes or behind center, Montalvo is a chunk play waiting to happen.
7. New York Giants: Chace Petgrave (WR-Middletown): Dynamite in a bottle and should immediately upgrade New York’s stagnant offense. Petgrave is a precise route runner with sticky hands that plays bigger than his frame. Instant contributor.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Cole Brisson (QB-Cromwell/Portland): The ATL is entering a new phase in need of a franchise quarterback and Brisson fits the bill. Calm, cool lefty with elite accuracy and underrated arm strength. A winner who guided his team to a state championship last fall and leads with both his words and actions.
9. Seattle Seahawks: Paddy Brown (QB-Newington): Brown has big shoes to fill in the Emerald City but he has the talent to make the locals say “Russell who?” Lightning quick release and the ball pops off his hand with velocity and touch. Added toughness and athleticism from lacrosse and reminds scouts of a young Jim Everett.
10. New York Jets: Alex Peruta (LB-Rocky Hill): Heart-and-soul player that has a relentless motor on every down. Peruta has a captain’s mentality and may have the best instincts in the draft. Fluid three-down linebacker that attacks the run and plays the pass with confidence.
11. Washington Commanders: Tanner Healy (CB-Wethersfield): Healy plays with an unmatched swagger and he backs it up with big plays in big time moments. Rangy with athleticism and build to smother quicker receivers and bang with bigger targets.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Ethan Philbrick (LM-Cromwell/Portland): Philbrick frame and physicality allows him to dominate the interior on either side of the ball. Whether he’s pancaking defenders or mauling opposing ball carriers, new head coach Kevin O’Connell is getting a franchise building block.
13. Houston Texans: Shaun Gaskins (S -Middletown): Gaskins has the heart of a lion and plays with the aggressiveness of one. Excellence vision and brings a wealth of experience on both sides of the ball. Plays with a purpose and will be an immediate voice of the secondary.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Brody Troiano (DE/K-Rocky Hill): Troiano may be the most unique player in the draft. A massive, muscular, long frame that is nearly impossible to block with one guy. Played all three phases last fall, including kicker where he’s capable of making 50+ yard field goals. Justin Tucker is officially on notice.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Ryan Rozich (LB-Cromwell/Portland): Rozich was sometimes overshadowed by the immense talent around him, but he was just as productive and impactful. Versatile backer who is always around the ball thanks to his instincts and relentlessness.
16. New Orleans Saints: Josiah Ross (WR-Newington): A game-changer with a ceiling as high as anyone in the draft. Ross can get in-and-out of his break quickly and once the ball is in his hands his north-south speed kicks into another gear.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Evan Christian (LB-Wethersfield): Christian is an ideal middle linebacker with the build and flexibility to play on the outside. Engulfs ball carriers with his long arms and drives through with his leverage. Disciplined and motivated.
18. Philadelphia Eagles: Salvatore Signorello (G- Rocky Hill): Signorello brings a wealth of experience to the next level. Athletic enough to pull and stout enough to drive through blocks. A worker bee who likes to grind.
19. New Orleans Saints: Jordan Middlebrooks (OL-Newington): Rare athlete with size and skills to play multiple positions along the line. Middlebrooks has the makings of a player that will be an anchor in the league for a long time.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Matt Steuerwald (WR-Middletown): Steuerwald is surprisingly physical from his time as a defensive back and has a knack for breaking tackles. Quarterback friendly, chain-mover that brings an added run-after-catch ability.
21. New England Patriots: Jack Williams (C-Cromwell/Portland): Williams’ ability to wear multiple hats will be a welcomed sign in Foxboro. Was the anchor to a state championship team in the fall and is still realizing how impactful he can be.
22. Green Bay Packers: Frankie Guerrera (WR-Rocky Hill): Sky-high limit for this talented wide out with a plethora of skills. Guerrera has the wheels to get deep, strength to beat press, and the body control of Gumby. Hands catcher who attacks the ball in flight.
23. Arizona Cardinals: Torronce Smith (OLB-Wethersfield): Smith is a physical specimen with elite pursuit ability. His first step rivals that of Chandler Jones, who he is replacing in Arizona. Brings the pain on every tackle.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Sam Cultrera (OL-Newington): Cultrera offers a ton of flexibility and experience to the next level. Could be a hidden gem at this point in the draft thanks to his added abilities from lacrosse and captain’s mentality.
25. Buffalo Bills: Alex Hair (RB-Newington): Solid three-down back that is a chain mover. Hair has the toughness to run between the tackles and wiggle to bounce outside. A nose for the end zone.
26. Tennessee Titans: Ethan Lemos (WR-Wethersfield): Lemos is a steal at this point in the draft. Does everything well and has a tendency to make the spectacular catch look routine. Game is reminiscent of Chris Chambers.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Matt Binezewski (OL-Cromwell/Portland): Young prospect that has the potential to etch out a long, productive career. Bienzewski can play both sides of the line and has great technique.
28. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Bozzi (LB-Rocky Hill): Bozzi is a smooth athlete who sheds blocks well. Provides a pop at point of contact and has a knack for dislodging the ball. Special teams standouts as well.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Ben Fagan (DB-Cromwell/Portland): Smart, savvy, ball hawk. Fagan plays under control and is almost always in the right spot. A coach’s dream.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Bryson Evans (DE-Wethersfield): Energizer that never gives up on a play. Evans is a long strider who can chase down the ball quickly and has strong hands at the point of contact.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Miguel Rivera IV (MLB-Newington): Rivera provides a mountain of versatility and has the size to move people. Excellent burst from both the first and second level of the defense with ability to play with his hand in the dirt or standing. Potential lead blocker in goal line and short yardage.
32. Detroit Lions: Colin Skene (QB-Middletown): Detroit takes a flier on a potential quarterback of the future with the final pick in round one. Skene possesses all the intangibles you want in a field general and throws a catchable ball with touch, both from the pocket and on the move.
22 Day-Two Prospects (alphabetical by last name)
Sean Asante (MLB-Rocky Hill): Heat-seeking missile middleman who can scrape sideline to sideline with ease. Build and athleticism to play safety at the next level. Enforcer who packs a punch.
Wil Bankowski (DB-Wethersfield): Quiet confidence with quarterbacking experience, giving him an edge in the defensive secondary. Natural athlete that is tough as nails.
Allen Cohen (K-Cromwell/Portland): Cohen brings a wealth of position value to a team but his secret weapon is his big, accurate leg. Consistent and clutch rolled into one.
Luca Corvino (OLB-Newington): Plays with passion and has a non-stop motor. Some team is getting a steal with this wrecking ball.
David De’leon (RB-Middletown): A potential home run threat every time he touches the rock. Just getting started and could be a dangerous return man at the next level.
Hayden Fish (LB-Newington): Gadget defender that can rush the passer and has the ability to play most positions in the back-seven. Intriguing prospect.
Jova’n Hill (RB-Wethersfield): Open field delight that has put in the time to become a potential every down back. Elusive and always one broken tackle away from a house call.
Terrence Jackson Jr (DL-Middletown): Another versatile lineman that has experience on both sides. A mismatch with burst to beat tackles outside and mass to overpower guards on the inside.
Charles Judge Blair (CB-Newington): Incredible make-up speed and tracks the ball as good as anyone in the draft. Receiver hands and off-the-chart metrics.
Oleg Korotkyy (CB/WR-Rocky Hill): Young, budding prospect with ideal length and size. May end up a receiver at the next level because of his solid frame and willingness to attack the ball. Coverage ability allows him to lock down both wide and slot receivers.
Chase Leonard (S-Newington): Leonard packs a big punch. Plays with desire and doesn’t miss tackles. Has experience at multiple positions.
Daevyon Lovelace (CB-Cromwell-Portland): Lovelace has freakish potential and has a game-changing ability that can’t be taught. Doesn’t shy away from contact and attacks the ball.
Felipe Lozano (MLB-Wethersfield): Prototypical, productive middle linebacker. Flew under the radar a bit and a team will be getting an absolute steal in the second round. Smart and explosive three-down backer.
Cooper Moreau (HB/FB-Wethersfield): Captains mentality with intriguing skills. Punishing lead blocker with soft hands out of the backfield. Kyle Juszczyk–type at the next level.
Brandon Rose (CB-Cromwell/Portland): Long, lean, competitive defensive back that gets his hands on a lot of throws. Reminds scouts of a young Bobby Taylor.
Daniel “Gator” Sjoblom (NG-Rocky Hill): Team-first guy that excels on the trenches. Charismatic with a willingness to do whatever for the betterment of the team.
Jonah Smikle (OL/DL:Middletown): Ability and experience to play both sides of the line, thriving in the interior. A road grader on offense and brick wall on defense.
Shakir Smith (RB-Newington): Shifty back who is not afraid to initiate contact. Great vision with a rare combination of balance and breakaway speed.
Grayson Spalding (DT-Rocky Hill): Wins with power and quickness off snap. Effortlessly eats up ball carriers and pushes the pocket.
Holden Speed (DE/OLB-Wethersfield): Generational athlete with strength, quickness, and exceptional leaping ability. Sets the edge with the best of them.
M.J. Torres (RB-Rocky Hill): Built for any system. Effective runner with fluid hips and enjoys blocking in the open field. Reliable hands out of the backfield.
Emeka Yearwood: (DE-Cromwell/Portland): Rising star with an explosive burst off the edge. Confident and charismatic.
Glastonbury High School softball standout Rayah Snyder played the hero twice last week.
First was during the Guardians 2-1 victory over Bristol Eastern on April 18.
Snyder, who had come up empty in her previous three plate appearances in the game, connected on a single in the bottom of the seventh inning, driving home Nabia Crawford for the game-winning run.
The walk-off winner by Snyder, the team’s leadoff hitter, improved the Guardians to 5-1 this spring.
“The nice thing about a leadoff batter is that they always come up when you need them,” head coach Karen Costes said of Snyder. “It was her fourth time facing Allison Tellier [Bristol Eastern’s pitcher] and Rayah made the adjustments to get the job done. She improved in each at bat and as a coach that’s how you know something special is about to happen.”
Costes added that the clutch hit was thanks to her ability to stay calm in pressure situations, saying, “We have been working hard on mental toughness and Rayah’s was on display against Bristol Eastern.”
Snyder’s hit ended an evenly-matched defensive game, in which each team scored once in the second inning and then were held in check prior to Snyder’s final swing.
“Hitting the game-winner was an amazing feeling, but my team earned that hit just as much as I did,” Snyder said. “Although I pushed the winning run across, everyone had their crucial roles in that win. Whether it was a fielded ground ball, a caught pop fly, or even cheering from the bench, everyone contributed. Which is why the highlight of this game for me wasn’t the game winning hit, but it was running to my team after the winning run crossed the plate and celebrating what we accomplished together.”
Snyder said that she didn’t let the previous trips to the plate affect her approach in the crucial moment.
“All I told myself when I was on deck was to put the ball in play. Move the runners. Do something that will benefit our team in this situation,” said Snyder, who plays shortstop. “Then when I got in the box, my mind became empty. I always mentally prepare for my at bats before I step in the box, so when I step in the box I can just see the ball and hit the ball. It allows me to react as opposed to overthink, and in this situation especially, it worked out.”
Brooke Tracy was again great from both the mound and plate. Tracy struck out 14, allowing only two hits, and also provided the Guardians first run when she smacked a solo home run in the second inning.
Crawford, who scored the game-winner, was the only player on either side to get multiple hits.
The team won two more games last week, improving to 7-1.
In a 13-8 triumph win over Windsor on April 20, the Guardians scored nine runs in the first inning to take a commanding 9-0 lead after one.
Sadie Scurto put the finishing touches on the victory with a three-run blast in the third inning. Scurto scored two runs, while Snyder and Natalie Lessard each crossed the plate three times.
Snyder helped the Guardians end the week with a fifth straight victory, breaking a 1-1 tie in the top of the seven inning with a 2-run single as Glastonbury held off Fitch 4-3 on April 22.
Snyder added that she enjoys tough games against good competition, saying, “Of course when games are that close everyone is on the edge of their seats, but I find I play well in high pressure situations when my team and I have high excitement and energy.”
In the win over Fitch, Scurto had three hits and an insurance RBI in the 7th, which ultimately made the difference.
Senior Caitlin Garland (left) and sophomore Morgan Peterson are guiding GHS girls golf this spring
First-year head coach Ken Barse has already put his stamp on the girls’ golf program at Glastonbury High School.
The longtime ice hockey coach at the school took over the golf program in the offseason, giving the team an invigorating, fresh approach to the game.
“When people are passionate about what they do, it’s hard not to be excited about it,” said Barse, who has been a fan and played the sport since he was a teenager. “I learned a long time ago that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. I’ve been trying to implement all those little things to make it a better experience for them. That’s my number one goal as a coach to maximize their experience.”
Through three meets the team is playing with passion and purpose, which has led to two wins in three contests.
Senior captain Caitlin Garland is helping guide the Guardians on and off the course. She began playing golf last year and has steadily improved as both a player and a leader.
“I’ve felt very comfortable being my second year and knowing all the girls. I just want to be very supportive,” said Garland. “I feel like being the oldest is really strange, but I’ve tried to take them under my wing.”
After a year of high school competition, Garland quickly shifted from first-year player to being a veteran voice on a team that features a talent crop of young talent who are posting great numbers of the links.
Barse said that Garland has been a leader by example, offering endless support, “They are all sisters and that is how she has approached it. Caitlin is always so positive and it’s nice to see how she interacts with the younger girls.”
Sophomore Morgan Peterson has been the medalist in the team’s two wins, posting a 42 in a win over South Windsor on April 6 and a season-low 39 in a win over East Hartford on April 20.
“Last year it was kind of a rough year with Covid still happening, but we all got closer as the year progressed and that has helped us this year,” Peterson said. “This year the atmosphere has gotten 10 times better. We’re on the course so much more and everyone is so encouraging.”
Barse said he has been impressed by both Peterson’s abilities and maturity on the course.
“To be able to handle the pressure she puts on herself is impressive,” added Barse. “It’s not only her skill and mental toughness but it’s her work ethic that stands out to me. She wants to keep working.”
Senior Paige Annecchino and freshman Sofia Cirillo bookend a varsity lineup that also features four other sophomores: Maya Manzotti, Neeyor Devtale, Riley Savidge, and Kara Anderson.
Barse calls the team his “Scottish Girls” because of their willingness and want to play in any conditions. He recalled one of the team’s first practices was in driving wind and rain, so Barse took a picture of the girls practicing in the adverse condition and showed his wife later that day.
“She said ‘I cannot believe you found a bunch of girls that are as crazy about this game as you are’,” recalled Barse. “They were out there in the freezing rain and still playing and having fun. Every time I give these kids an option to take the day off or practice, they always want to play.”
This spring is a unique season for girls’ golf around the state. Many boys’ programs, including the team at GHS, moved to fall competition, putting the spotlight solely on girls this spring.
Barse said that it is nice to see the sport getting the attention that it deserves, adding that the Glastonbury Hills Country Club---where the team plays and practices---has shown great support to the program and “rolled out the red carpet” for the team.
Working on the mental part of the game has also been an emphasis for Barse.
Garland said that Barse has stressed the mental game, even sending the team a relaxation video to watch to help them get ready for competition.
“He’s so involved. It’s been amazing,” Garland said of having Barse as the coach. “I feel like everyone is very spirited. If someone shoots a bad shot the other players will try to relax them and calm them down. We are just very good together.”
Peterson added, “Everything is revamped. Coach is always excited to be here. He always has so much energy to start practice.”
Both Garland and Peterson added that the goal for this year is to keep individual scores as low as possible in an effort to keep the team’s overall score under 200, which they have done in the two wins.
The decreasing scores are great, yet it’s another aspect that Barse is most proud of.
“The best part about those first three matches is that one of the opposing coaches said after the match that the girls were good golfers, but they are great people. That’s the ultimate compliment,” said Barse. “They are so kind to their opponents and they are just having fun.”
Barse noted that even after the team’s loss to Berlin on April 18, the team remained upbeat and were ready to move on. So much so that on the bus ride home, the team stopped for ice cream.
“One of the best parts about my life was being a part of a team. It’s not so much the wins and losses, because those are easily forgettable, but it’s the bond they make with each other,” said Barse. “They pull for each other. They are such kind girls and the laughter is non-stop.”
Kaylee Gravel, a senior at East Hampton High School, signing her Letter of Intent to run cross-country and track at Central Connecticut State University. Gravel is pictured with her coaches, Ken Landry (l) and Bill Wilkie.
East Hampton High School senior Kaylee Gravel recently signed her National Letter of Intent, accepting an athletic scholarship to run both cross-country and track at Central Connecticut State University.
“I’m beyond excited to announce that I’ll be furthering my academic and athletic career at CCSU,” Gravel announced on Instagram in February. “So thankful for my family, friends, and coaches who have helped me get to where I am today! Can’t wait for the next four years! Go Blue Devils!”
Gravel, a three-season runner, is in the middle of her final athletic season as a member of the Bellringers’ outdoor track and field team. She also runs cross-country in the fall and recently earned all-state in February for her performance during the indoor track and field season.
This spring, Gravel and the indoor team are looking to defend their state title after winning the Class S state championship a year ago, defeating powerhouse Bloomfield in dramatic fashion.
Gravel earned an individual Class S state title a year ago, winning the 800 meters as a junior and said she is hoping to duplicate that feat this spring.
“It’s really awesome,” Gravel said about being part of such a talented and close team at EHHS. “A lot of the girls have worked really hard and we’ve all connected really well, even with the guys’ team. The groups push and motivate each other.”
She added that the team has several younger girls that have stepped up early in the season, giving them an extra edge this spring.
Gravel, who is fresh off an outdoor Class S state championship in the 1000 meters in February, is comfortable running any distance—including the 1600 and 3200 meters.
Her journey to CCSU started back when her father Greg Gravel, an avid runner, talked her into running some local races in the area. Later she joined the cross-county team at East Hampton Middle School and quickly fell in love with the endurance sport.
“It’s something I enjoy doing. It’s not a hassle to go running,” Gravel said. “It’s definitely relaxing and takes my mind off of things.”
Running, along with the hours of training devoted to running, takes up a majority of her time at EHHS. However, she is also part of the school’s Interact Club and has played travel softball. She said she will miss “the team and the people” the most at the high school.
At CCSU, she’ll be joining a steady and competitive Blue Devils team led by head coach Eric Blake, who has been coaching both the men’s and women’s programs at Central for over a dozen years.
Gravel said that close friend Jake Ireland, who is a 2020-graduate of East Hampton High School and now a runner at CCSU, was a driving force behind her looking into the New Britain-based school.
Her mom Lisa Gravel is also a Central-alum, which also factored into her decision.
“I was looking out of state but then scheduled a visit to go there to meet coach Blake and some of the team and really ended up really liking it. I was really surprised,” said Gravel, who has lived in East Hampton her entire life. “I felt at home when I went. I discussed it with my parents and I thought it was a really nice fit. They have lots of options for academics.”
At Central, Gravel will major in exercise science and may pursue a minor in nutrition as well.
She said she wants to experience everything that college has to offer, adding, “I am looking forward to competing against new people and seeing where I can go. I’m excited about the team and making new friends.”
Here are the Rivereast Standout Athletes of the Week for April 10-17:
Avery Hall - East Hampton High School (Baseball): Hall had three hits and drove in a pair of runs as the Bellringers defeated North Branford 10-4 on April 16. The junior was aided at the plate by senior Javier Diaz who was equally impressive, slapping a pair of hits and scoring two runs as East Hampton earned their second victory of the season.
Luke Stennett - Portland High School (Golf): Stennett shot a 1-under par (34) as the Highlanders defeated Coventry (169-197) in the team’s season-opener at the Portland Golf Course. The sophomore has picked up right where he left off a season ago when he won the Class S state championship as a freshman last spring.
Boden Landers - RHAM High School (Lacrosse): Landers scored eight goals as the Raptors crushed Rockville 18-3 on April 16th. The senior was one of four Raptors to tally multi-goals in the win as Jacob Tresser (three goals), Tim Smith (two goals), and Nick Pace (two goals) also found the back of the net more than once as the Raptors won their first game of the young season.
Skylar Gustavsen - Bacon Academy High School (Lacrosse): Gustavsen scored five goals and had four assists in the Bobcats 19-6 win over Montville on April 14. Through five games Gustavsen leads the team in points with 30, scoring 19 goals and dishing out 11 assists. In the win over Montville, Maddox Burton added five points (four goals / one assist) and Sarah Newton also tallied a handful of points (two goals / three assists).
To nominate someone for an Athlete of the Week or with questions or comments on sports-related topics, email Josh Howard at email@example.com
GHS Softball Defends Home Field
Glastonbury High School softball improved to 4-0 at home with a pair of convincing victories last week, defeating Lewis Mills 16-1 on Wednesday and Stamford 15-1 on Saturday.
In the win over Lewis Mills on April 13, the Guardians offense was firing on all cylinders from the opening pitch and racked up a total of 15 hits.
Natalie Lessard got things started in the first inning when she singled on a 3-1 count, scoring one run.
GHS standout pitcher Brooke Tracy allowed one hit and zero runs over three innings, striking out nine and walking zero. Gabby Lambert threw two innings in relief out of the bullpen.
Olivia Sawyer took the loss for Lewis Mills, allowing nine runs over three innings.
Tracy and Sadie Scurto each had home runs with Tracy going yard in the first inning and Scurto putting one over the fence in the third.
The Guardians ended the game early with five runs in the fifth inning. Maddy Handrahan, Rayah Snyder, Alyssa Myers, and Gabby Lambert all knocked in runs in the final inning.
Lessard, Snyder, and Scurto each managed three hits, while Tracy and Lambert each had two hits.
In the win over Stamford on April 16, Tracy was equally impressive from the hill and the plate.
Tracy had four hits, including a pair of homers, and drove in nine runs. The senior homered in the first, singled in the third, doubled in the fourth, and homered in the fifth.
On the mound, Tracy allowed only three hits, striking out 14 and walking none in a complete game.
Glastonbury again ended the game with the mercy rule by tallying six runs in the fifth inning. Tracy, Snyder, Scurto each tallied an RBI in the inning, while Molly Edgington connected on a solo home run.
The Guardians had 14 hits total and did not commit a single error in the victory, which improved the team to 4-1 this spring.
GHS Baseball Wins First Four of 2022
Glastonbury High School baseball is off to a strong start this spring behind a powerful offense, strong pitching, and a deep bullpen. The Guardians have outscored their opponents 43-16 through the first four games and have out hit their opponents 45-21.
The team started its season with a 13-4 victory at East Catholic on April 5. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the 7th inning, the Guardians exploded for 10 runs in the final frame. The 10-run inning was added by key singles from Elliot Hamilton, Dan Cantafi, and Kyle Stephens. A double from C.J. Butera and a triple from Drew Jean helped turn a one-run deficit into a nine-run victory.
Owen Stephens got the start on the mound and Cantafi entered the game in the 4th inning to get the win. Cody Heselton closed out the game with three strikeouts in the 7th inning.
Glastonbury racked up a dozen hits in the game with Cantafi, Butera, and Kyle Stephens contributing multiple hits.
On April 11, the Guardians won their home opener by downing Southington 4-2 at GHS. The home team took a late lead in the 5th inning following a triple with bases loaded by Butera. Owen Stephens, pitching on his birthday, threw a complete game with six strikeouts, allowing only two hits to get the win.
Three days later, the Guardians dominated Avon 17-8 thanks to 20 hits and 15 RBIs.
The Guardians broke the game open with five runs in the 4th inning. Cantafi went 5 for 5 and Elliot Hamilton was 3 for 4 at the plate. Hamilton, Drew Curto, Drew Jean, Jack Petrone and Beau Vardion also had multiple hits.
Daniel Beagle started on the mound and Hamilton earned the win, while Fernando Martins had his varsity pitching debut. Petrone closed the game out on the mound to register the save.
On April 16, the Guardians jumped out to an early lead against top-ranked Westhill, before cruising to a 9-2 victory. Owen Stephens was again solid from the mound and plate, throwing a complete game with six strikeouts, giving up only four hits against a strong Westhill line-up. The victory was aided by multiple hits from Hamilton, Cantafi, and Luke Fahey. The Guardians capped the win with a single from Cantafi and doubles from Fahey and Butera in the bottom of the 5th inning.
Noah Terzo - Wethersfield (Baseball): Terzo pitched a complete game, two-hitter and had 10 strikeouts in the Eagles 2-0 shutout of Rocky Hill on April 14. The senior, who has committed to pitch for Keene State next year, is one of Wethersfield’s aces on the mound this spring—helping the Eagles win three of their first four.
Jaime Anderson - Cromwell (Softball): Anderson tied a career-high with four hits and also scored two runs in the Panthers 10-1 win over Valley Regional on April 11. It was the senior’s third multi-hit game through five games. She has reached base in all five contests as Cromwell started the season 5-0.
Michael Bohlke - Newington (Track): Bohlke placed first in the 600 meter and 800 meter dash, running personal-bests and breaking the school record in both events at a meet in Rocky Hill on April 12. The senior, who has broken numerous running records and been part of state championship performances at NHS, has already announced he will continue his athletic and academic career at George Washington University next year.
Maddie Dillon - Rocky Hill (Softball): Dillon had a pair of big games last week, combining for six hits and scoring five runs as the Terriers won both games. The senior went 4 for 4 and scored four runs in a 21-3 victory over Hartford Public on April 11 and then added three hits, driving in one run and scoring another in a 7-2 win over Middletown on April 13. The win over the Blue Dragons was the team’s third straight.
Paddy Brown - Newington (Lacrosse): Brown scored a career-high eight goals as Newington defeated Bristol Eastern 9-4 on April 14. The junior, who is also the school’s starting quarterback in the fall, was aided by teammates Everett Hillman and Kyle Bross who had four and three assists, respectively.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin