The temperature will soon drop and the leaves will start falling, meaning that autumn and another high school sports season is upon us. COVID-restrictions last fall prevented high school teams from playing a normal season, but the hope this year is that teams can complete a full regular season followed by a postseason, featuring conference and state tournaments. Here’s a preview of the fall sports teams at Glastonbury High School.
Friday Night Lights have returned! Following a year without competitive football, the boys of fall are back for a 10-game regular season of 11-v-11 full contact fun. Head coach Eric Hennessy enters his third season on the sidelines at GHS, looking to build off the team’s 3-7 mark from 2019.
“It’s been two years and the biggest question we have is how tough are we. Everyone looks good in t-shirts and shorts and I know how fast we are, I know how strong we are, and I know how athletic we are, but I don’t know how tough we are,” Hennessy said after an August 25 scrimmage vs Windsor, “I’m happy with our effort and our toughness today, and now we have to see if we can do it going forward. We’re trying to answer who we are as a team.”
The Guardians should thrive in the trenches, particularly on the defensive line where Jack Hennessy, Kevin Delbon, and John Desmarais will wreak havoc this fall. Senior Michael Connolly will anchor a rock-solid offensive line.
Senior Matt Daniels, who coach Hennessy called “the pound-for-pound most explosive player on the team” will lead the defensive secondary and make an impact on the offensive side. Junior Jordyn Sams will solidify the linebacking unit and play running back.
Hennessy has two capable quarterbacks on the roster competing for QB1. Juniors Jack Anglim and Drew Curto are vying for the starting spot.
“They both handle themselves well. I’m not looking for that quarterback that is going to push the bus, I’m looking for that quarterback that is going to drive the bus. Keeping us in good down and distances, keeping drives alive. You don’t always have to have the big plays, those plays will happen, but we have to take care of the little plays first,” said Hennessy, who wants a ball control approach, “They are both doing a great job, making my job tough. I’m going to have to tell a really good football player that they are going to be the #2.”
The Guardians have a schedule filled of powerhouses, which will test a team that is small in numbers but full of potential and brimming with excitement after a year without football.
“As soon as we were able to have live contact is when I saw the excitement come back. That joy of playing a real football game and being able to hit somebody is when I saw that excitement and intensity. I see that passion, the passion is back,” added Hennessy, “We need to focus on quality over quantity. Let’s focus on the kids that got in the weight room in the offseason, got bigger, stronger, faster. I’m happy to where we are depth-wise, even though we only have 40 guys on the varsity roster. We have a competitive nature at practice where everyone fears losing their job because there is a guy behind them that is good. You have to win every single drill and win the day.”
The field hockey program is coming off one of the most dominant seasons in the state last fall, finishing 14-0 and winning a conference title with a 7-0 win over Hall. The team outscored the opposition by a combined score of 71-2, shutting out their final seven opponents.
Veteran head coach Maureen Perkins returns 15 players from a season ago, including now-senior captains Molly Harding and Christina Guanci. Seniors Hannah David, Kaitlyn Welsh, Grace Boehning and Kaitlyn Parent; juniors Mikayla Balatbat, Alicia Choquette, and Teagan Rooney; and sophomore Skylar Fiske will be counted on to make an impact.
“Despite the limitations last year due to COVID, last year was one of the most successful for the GHS field hockey team,” stated Perkins, “While we graduated an incredibly talented and integral core of players, this year's team is ready to step up and take on more responsibilities on this year's team. They are excited to play and eager to build on the success of last year's team.”
It’s a new era with a familiar face for the girls’ soccer program. Mark Landers takes over the head coaching duties after guiding the GHS boys’ soccer program for the past two decades, amassing over 300 wins and winning eight state titles.
Landers and the team will aim to duplicate last fall’s undefeated season, which culminated with a conference championship. Senior captains Delina Chavez, Katie Donovan and Sydney Kehl, who all played pivotal roles a season ago, will be Landers’ leaders on the field.
“We as coaches understand the amazing culture and tradition of this soccer program. It will be an honor for us to carry on and uphold the core values established by thousands of former GTRAIN soccer players. Our team will look to represent our community with pride, passion and enthusiasm,” stated Landers, “We will undoubtedly support the athletic endeavors of all the student athletes at Glastonbury High School and demonstrate a high level of sportsmanship on and off the field."
Chris Vozzolo takes over as the head coach for the boys’ program that didn’t lose a game a season ago and won a conference title, defeating East Hartford 1-0.
Vozzolo, who was previously an assistant with the program, will have a robust group of seniors and a talented junior class coming back. Senior captains Mitch Williams, Vincenzo Greco, Kevin Carmichael, and Kevin Clarke will be Vozzolo’s field generals.
"The boys soccer program looks to enter the Fall 2021 season with a great class of 11 seniors. This group will lead us on and off the field. Alongside, we return a talented group of underclassmen and newcomers to the program,” stated Vozzolo, who also coaches girls basketball and boys tennis at GHS, “We will continue to represent our school and community with high expectations."
Girls Cross Country
Head coach Brian Collins believes the pieces are in place for the girls’ cross country team to competitive in the CCC, as well as potentially in the Class LL and State Open.
Ava Gattinella, who earned All-State as a freshman in 2020, will return to lead a gifted group that features Kelley MacElhiney and Jackie Carol, who is a track and field star and is running cross country for the first time. Annika Hurley, Haley Evans, Olivia Dickson, Lucy Bergin, and Kylie Hilliard will also be returning to add loads of depth. Freshman Brooke Strauss, who had an outstanding XC career at Smith Middle School, will show what she can do on the high school trails.
“Overall it should be a very solid team if everyone stays healthy. There's a lot of talented runners that should make it a very deep team. It's a great blend of young runners and some veteran runners,” stated Collins, “As a team, athletes and coaches, we're very excited for the upcoming season.”
Boys Cross Country
Returning All-State selection Joseph Accurso will head a solid group of running for a boys’ program that won six of seven meets a season ago.
Accompanying Accurso will be fellow seniors Cody Stone, Jackson Stone, Kevin Graziosi, Will Haddad; juniors Dominic Pena, Harrison Krause, Cameron Colletti, Ben Yalof; sophomores Troy Giaccone, Max Pawelek
“I am excited for this XC season,” said head coach Mark Alexander, “The guys have worked hard this summer in the weight room and with their running program. All the hard work will pay off this season.”
Boys’ golf, which was previously played in the spring, has moved to the fall.
“Making the change to the fall has always been about what we think is best for the players and to grow the game. Time will tell if we are on the right path, but the conditions and scores have so far been very favorable,” stated GHS head coach Tom Zelek.
Last spring, GHS won their division, finishing 9-0-1 within the division and 15-0-2 overall. The Guardians ranked #1 in the state, holding that position for the last few weeks of the season.
In postseason play, the team finished 2nd in the conference, finishing as the runner up out of 26 teams at the CCC championships. They then placed 3rd at the Division I State Championships, besting 17 other teams by at least five strokes.
All four golfers that competed at states will be returning following All-Conference selections. Connor Goode and Charlie Dolan, who earned All-State in the spring, along with fellow senior Nick DiNino and sophomore Gavin Kvadus will be back to build off the success from spring.
Goode and DiNino won the Connecticut 2-Man Invitational, combining to shoot a tournament record (65) in the spring, and all four continued to excel this summer, highlighted by Goode who captured the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship and won the CT Junior PGA Championship by shooting amazing rounds of 67 and 69.
The switch from spring to fall is bitter-sweet for Goode, “I definitely feel that golf will improve in the fall as the courses will be in better shape and the players will be in mid-season form. However, I am biased as I have played football since 2nd grade and was forced to choose between the two with the season change.”
Zelek also returns a talented group of young golfers who performed well in the spring at the JV level, finishing 10-2-1.
“With four players returning this year on a team that was ranked # 1 in Division I golf I’m looking forward to the season. These same players had a busy summer playing in tournaments all over the state and country,” said Zelek, “I’m really excited about the move to fall golf and the ability to get right out to play and practice with athletes who are on top of their games after playing throughout the summer. Besides the returning players we have a few others who will be able to fill out our roster and help us be hopefully one of the most competitive teams.”
Girls Swimming & Diving
Swimming and diving was one of the sports that was most impacted by last year’s restrictions. Head coach Suzie Hoyt returns for her 32nd season and is ready to get back to a sense of normalcy.
“It never gets old. The excitement is there, the anticipation, the enthusiasm, all of that is there,” said Hoyt, “We excited to get back to almost normal. Last year we had to split our team into two groups because of the size, so we really didn’t have that feeling of team. I’m very excited that all the girls are able to be together.”
A season ago, all the meets were virtual and the team was forced to practice with in two groups, making it difficult to bond as a team
“I think that last year was so difficult with all the challenges they faced. You take for granted that these other teams can practice together at the same time. A soccer team can be together outside, a football team can be together outdoors, but our girls had to enter and exit through different doors in the building. The only days we were able to be together were our virtual meets days,” added Hoyt, “The thing that is different about high school swimming is that it is absolutely a team sport, we are all about the team. The individual performances take a back seat to the team. We’re trying to get back to being a team and the fact that we are able to be in the pool at the same time is huge.”
Hoyt is still constructing a roster but Riley Kudlac and Annika Paluska, who were part of the team’s successful 200 relay freestyle team, are expected to be back.
Tony Sanith is back for his fourth season at head coach following a 6-6 shortened season in 2020.
Senior captain Ana Andriyashko, who was a starter the last two seasons, is be back to provide leadership and power up front.
“We’ll rely on her leadership and confidence on the court to control the mentality and atmosphere on our side of the net,” said Sanith, who is happy to be getting back to a normal schedule, “A lot of [the players] have talked to me about getting as close to normal as possible. If everything goes according to plan we’ll have a conference tournament and a state tournament as opposed to last year where we were playing to play and there was no ultimate goal. Our seniors especially are excited about that.”
Sanith added that he’ll count on his seniors on the defensive end and is hoping his junior class can handle the bulk of the offense.
Senior Sara Rigatti returns as the team’s libero and will handle the passing and defensive responsibilities, while junior Evelyn Brenton, who played travel the offseason, could blossom into the team’s star hitter.
“With the shortened season last year we got less experience and this year going in we have better height than we’ve had in the past,” said Sanith, who is impressed with the 70+ person turnout for tryouts, featuring over 30 freshman, “This is the most number of girls than we’ve had in the past. I would like to think it’s because we’re a consistent program.”
Senior Matt Daniels will help lead GHS football / Sydney Kehl will be a senior captain for GHS girls soccer
Most of the areas boys’ golfers will compete in the fall. Several Central Connecticut Conference, which previously competed in the spring, have decided to make the switch in an effort to improve play and allow more opportunities for the players. Girls’ golf will continue to be played in the spring.
Wethersfield, who finished 9th in conference play in the spring and graduated all-conference golfers Vincent Milluzzo and Ethan Sitler, along with Newington and Rocky Hill have begun playing golf this week.
Glastonbury head coach Tom Zelek, whose team finished second in the conference in the spring, said this on the switch, “Many coaches were of the opinion that golf should move to the fall from being a spring sport. Because of the weather in the fall, the hope is to get more playing time because courses will be open as soon as we are able to start. Often in the spring because of a tough winter the courses open late which limits the time we can have on the course. Moving to the fall means the courses would be in great shape and also the players would be in top form as they have been playing all summer. Another reason was the hope that more players would be trying out for teams to help grow high school golf programs because many towns have seen numbers dwindle in recent years. The downside to the fall switch is that smaller schools would likely have a harder time fielding a team and so some decided to not make the change. Some athletes may also have to decide which sport they want to play if they have a conflict while others may now be able to play because of the change. Talking with coaches in our area has shown their numbers are indeed up and scores have been better.”
Cromwell, who returning all-conference player Jack Wise, will continue to compete in the spring. Wise, who will be a junior, surprised last season by finished with a share of the Division III state title.
Sarah Girach, an eighth grader at Griswold Middle School in Rocky Hill, has trained and competed in inline-speed skating events for the last six years, representing Team New England at various regional and national meets.
Girach recently won a pair of bronze medals in the USA Roller Sports - Inline Speed Skating National Championships held at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in mid-July.
“It was a great experience competing at the National level” said Girach, “Just being there felt awesome.”
It was Girach’s first competition since suffering a stress fracture earlier this year, preventing her from competing and practicing with her teammates for several months. This setback, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, made her pause the sport that she has done for the past six years.
“During the pandemic, training was really hard. I had to plan the workouts I did each day to help build my strength and develop those muscles while we were out of practice,” recalled Girach, “With my injury, I couldn’t really do anything, so I did everything I could do to stay in shape, like core exercises and stretching because I didn’t want to hurt it more.”
During her return to competitive skating in Iowa, she competed against a large group of girls of ages 12-14. Girach and her teammates took home third place finishes in both the 3-girl freshman relay and the 4-mix freshman relay.
Girach was born in Portland, Maine and discovered her love for skating while living in India for a year. Her family returned to the East Coast, settling in Rocky Hill when she was in the first grade.
Since landing in Rocky Hill, she’s been coached by trainers Mike Godin and Chuck Boucher and leaned on the support from senior team members, Eddie Wilcox, Jeylin Godin, and Kenny Bernard.
The trainers and team members, along with her family, were her support staff during her recovery.
“There was nothing I could do, it’s not like you can wave a magic wand and it will heal quickly,” said Girach, who worked on the mental side of her training during recovery, “I read this book, The Mental Athlete by Kay Porter, to train my mind for any other injuries or adversities I could face coming up. COVID was a big one, we couldn’t see anyone or train with anyone.”
When she is not inline skating, she is training as a speed ice skater. Her dedication to the sport is unmatched.
She travels with her mom, Sabina, to Massachusetts nearly every day to practice. Her routine includes a workout in the morning, school during the day, and homework on the rides back and forth from practice. Her younger sister, Aafiya, is also an aspiring speed skater.
“For any sport you have to train yourself mentally and physically and practice every day. Skating has taught me about being focused, working hard, or being confident,” said Girach.
The 13-year-old hopes to one day represent Team USA at the World Championships, which is an annual event that is being held in Columbia, South America this year.
Her role models in the sport are - Brittany Bowe, Corie Stoddard, Jazzmyn Foster and Jeylin Godin. A few of her teammates will be competing in South America this winter.
The World Championship are just one of Girach’s ultimate goals, “I want to represent Team USA at Worlds and I want to go to the Olympics for ice short track speed skating.”
GHS strength and conditioning coach Zack Bohling with 2021 GHS-graduate Caitlin Gallagher, who will play field hockey at Bryant. Bohling called Gallagher one of the hardest working athletes that he's trained.
The secret weapon behind many professional and college championship teams is an elite strength and conditioning coach.
In recent years, strength and condition coaches have started working with high school teams to make high school athletes bigger, stronger, and faster.
Enter Zack Bohling, who has brought his championship conditioning principles to Glastonbury High School.
“Every single year it gets more popular. More and more kids are getting into it to get better at their sport,” said Bohling, who started at GHS in 2019, “Glastonbury has bought into what strength and conditioning can do, and in my opinion I am sold on it preventing injuries and keeping kids out of the training room during the season.”
Bohling, who has a Masters Degree from Central Connecticut State University, trains athletes in and out of the season, allowing them to perform at a peak level.
“Glastonbury has so many gifted and talented kids and one thing I really pride myself on is even though they are at a high level in their sports it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be at a high level in the weight room,” said Bohling, who focuses on teaching proper form, “I have no problem with them just mastering the basic movement patterns first. We’re still going to learn how to squat or dead lift correctly. There is a progression, and we want to make sure that we don’t have an injury happen, which is the last thing I’d ever want to happen.”
Bohling’s road to Glastonbury started in Trumbull where he grew up playing soccer, basketball, and baseball. He went to Christian Heritage High School before heading to Gordon College to play college baseball for fours years, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Wenham, Massachusetts.
It was at Gordon where his passion for fitness blossomed, “I got more experience in the weight room. I didn’t get that experience in high school, so I started seeing some of the changes in my own body and I got better each year in college.”
Upon starting his program at CCSU, he became an assistant varsity baseball coach at GHS in the program’s first season under current head coach Dennis Accomando.
He finished his Masters Degree at Central in Physical Education with a Concentration in Exercise Science and became a certified Personal Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach before landing at GHS.
Since his arrival, he has helped countless GHS athletes improve both physically and mentally for their respective sports.
“Where we are now is way better than where it was when I first started. There’s a lot of teams involved now,” said Bohling, who credits the football boosters for bringing in better equipment, “It’s definitely come a long way.”
A little over a year into his tenure at the high school, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the country, leaving athletes stranded at home. Bohling adapted by posting workout videos on social media, allowing the GHS athletes to continue training during quarantine.
“They let me know how much they enjoy it and I will do whatever it takes to keep them motivated throughout the year,” recalled Bohling, who has been impressed with the resilience of the athletes, “I know how hard this pandemic has been on these kids and for these kids to stay motivated throughout all of that and with one of the harder curriculums in the state, and still go to practice and still make time for the weight room, not many people are able to do that. They come in the weight room with a smile on their face and I really appreciate them doing that.”
Bohling believes that training proper technique, allowing the athletes to master the range of motions, and emphasizes recovery through diet and sleep. Over the past two and a half years he has trained some incredible athletes, including many 2021 graduates who will continue playing sports at the next level.
“The athletes at GHS are some of the hardest working athletes I’ve been around. I joke around if money wasn’t an option, I would totally do this job for free,” stated Bohling, “There is nothing more rewarding then to see these kids hit numbers in the weight room and to see how happy they are. When they go to college and they tell me that they are already putting up numbers that some of the juniors and seniors are doing in college is a really cool thing. I take pride in these kids going off to school and want them to be as strong as they can be.”
Along with training at the high school, Bohling started Bohl Strong Fitness, LLC and has his own training location at The Apex Fitness, which is run by Mark Blancato and located at 60 Village Place in Glastonbury. Bohling trains anyone looking to lose weight, build muscle, or improve health.
A high percentage of his training is devoted to GHS athletes, which doesn’t bother Bohling, who spends anywhere from 40-90+ hours a month at high school training any athlete that wants that competitive edge.
“Now that I’ve been there for two and a half years, the amount of kids that are coming in is way more than when we first started. It was really just football at first, but now I’m seeing 10-12 different varsity sports and we are getting 15-25 kids in each group. We’ve had some pretty big numbers,” added Bohling, “I truly care about their progress, and I take pride in their performance. I want them to win championships. It’d be really cool to see a ton of success throughout the programs.”
Check out Bohling’s training on his Instagram @zacharybohling or to contact him directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Emma Smith (right) with teammate Casey MacElhiney at The Outdoor Track & Field Nationals in Oregon
Emma Smith, a 2021 graduate at Glastonbury High School, will take her athletic talents and academic gifts to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
“I chose Tufts because I decided to put academics before athletics, and I believe Tufts will set me up for the most success later in life,” stated Smith, who will run for the Jumbos, “I am so excited to compete at the college level because I think I will find I am capable of so much more than I have already achieved.”
Smith is coming off an impressive senior season on the track where she became an elite hurdler and a leg on the program’s successful 4x400 relay team that helped Glastonbury win conference and the Class LL state championship. Her efforts earned her a trip to The Outdoor Nationals in Oregon where she competed with her 4x4 teammates Alyssa Healy, Riley Carrol, and Meghan Smith.
“I surprised myself in my senior track season and I am eager to continue to build and see where I can go,” recalled Smith, who is leaning toward majoring in chemistry in college, “I just like the idea of pushing myself beyond my limits and finding out how far I can go, because there’s always more to give.”
Glastonbury High School’s strength and conditioning coach Zack Bohling praised Smith for her effort and courage in the weight room.
“Emma was the only girl at one point who was going, and once other girls saw some of the result she was getting we got more and more girls,” said Bohling, “Now half the weight room is girls. She wasn’t scared to get started, and all these younger girls are now coming in and excited to get results.”
Of the track, Smith was part of Host Club, Key Club, Care Club, as well as National Honor Society. Her athletic prowess and excellence in the classroom earned her a spot on the All-State Academic Team
At her next destination she’ll join a strong track and field program led by Kristen Morwick, who has been named a New England Coach of the Year an incredible seven times.
The transition to college will be bitter sweet for one of GHS most respected athletes.
“I will definitely miss the people the most. I love my friends, teammates, and coaches more than anything. I am so sad to leave but I am excited to see everything they accomplish,” said Smith, who recalled an amazing memory from Senior Night this spring, “Coach [Mark] Alexander asked each senior to write our names and one of our proudest accomplishments on a piece of paper that he collected and put in a bowl. When he came back, all the paper was burned and he told each of us to take a pinch and go put it on the track in a meaningful spot so that we would forever be a part of Glastonbury. I took the ashes and thought about all the good times I’ve had on the track. The finish line, but that was too obvious. My favorite lane four, but that was too boring. I settled on the mark where I fell during the 100 meter hurdle so I can always remember the fear I felt when I went to race the 100mh again and how I overcame it.”
If you’ve been to a Wethersfield High School athletic event over the past three years you’ve heard the distinctive voice of Jimmie Clark.
Clark has been the public address/play-by-play announcer at nearly every Eagles home game since 2018.
The polished product you hear now has been refined from his early days announcing a ‘Hoops for Heart’ event in middle school.
His first official announcing gig came in 2017 as a freshman at WHS, “The first game I did was soccer at Cottone, and I was a nervous wreck.”
Upon getting home from the game, his mom told him she got a call from Athletic Director Mike Maltese, “I thought ‘oh no, what did I do now?’ but he told her that I was a rockstar and that they are keeping me for the rest of the year and in the future.”
Since that day, Clark has been the official voice of the Eagles.
Clark’s origin story is similar to that of an athlete. He fell in love with announcing at an early age, listening to Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien announce Boston Red Sox games. It’s then when he discovered his talent and began sharing it with the world.
“Growing up I was diagnosed with Asperger’s and one of the things I would do religiously was verbatim do the games I heard on the radio,” said Clark, who has a knack for recalling random facts and information from yesteryear, “My mom first noticed because my kindergarten teacher called and said I had to talk to your son today because he was doing a game verbatim today in class and the only reason I noticed this is because I stayed up to watch the same game last night on NESN.”
Clark’s play-by-play days date back to elementary school when would record himself calling his classmates playing soccer during recess at Charles Wight Elementary, “The teacher would read a story after recess and I would be sitting outside of class listening to the recording going over the games, skipping ahead to the highlights.”
All the practice has paid off for Clark, who has developed his passion and is now voicing some of the biggest games in the state. His idol is legendary ice hockey play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick, who Clark would listen to during the Staley Cup finals.
He channeled his inner-Emrick when the WHS ice hockey team avenged a tournament loss to Branford, erasing a two-goal deficit to win an overtime thriller in February 2020.
“We really packed the Newington arena. I remember getting chirped at by one of the Branford players as one of their big stars came over to the penalty box,” recalled Clark, who called this his favorite moment thus far in the booth, “We went into overtime, and I remember just yelling at that point. There was no calm commentary at that point. Aaron Cholewa got the puck on the opposite side of the rink, brings in up through the neutral zone, gets passed everybody and he forehand-backhands it on the goalie and the goalie dove for it and fell out of the crease and Cholewa shovel shots it, as Emrick would say, to top shelf of the net. It was deafening in the Newington Arena.”
Clark was also on the call during ice hockey’s epic five-overtime game against Newington in last season’s conference tourney.
Clark worked a double header that day---also calling the girls ice hockey game---and was exhausted by the time the marathon game ended in the early hours on the next day.
Wethersfield came out on the losing end but Clark remembered a defining moment as he went to go say goodbye to the Eagles in the locker room, “As the Newington kids were walking by one of them saw me and came over, took his glove off, shook my hand, and said ‘you’ve got a fantastic voice, we loved hearing you on the bench, and you’re going somewhere’. That meant so much even though I was incredibly sad that point.”
Over the years, Clark has received the occasional criticism from opposing parents or coaches, but the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
His smooth delivery and ability to make things up on the fly are universally liked by Wethersfield’s athletes, coaches, and fans. He’s voiced nearly every sport, sometimes having to learn the rules of the sport as he calls the games, and his commentary has created opportunities outside of the school.
This summer he served as a production intern and got some play-by-play practice with the Norwich Sea Unicorns. He’s has also announced Connecticut Twilight baseball games, Wethersfield Dodger games, Tri-State League baseball, and other various sporting events over the years.
This winter he will expand to college sports, calling games for the Blue Devils ice hockey at Central Connecticut State University.
When he’s not in the booth, he’s updating the WHS sports happenings for the Blue Eagles News, which airs on YouTube.
He credits his parents for allowing him to follow his dream, “I’ve been lucky to have parents that are supportive. They’ll take me to Dodd Stadium a couple of nights a week or take me to Municipal Stadium in Waterbury for a few nights, anywhere I need to go.”
Clark’s father is a second-generation firefighter. His older brother, Matt Clark, is currently in fire school in Fairfax Country, Virginia and he has a twin sister, Erin Clark, is also entering her senior year at WHS.
Despite having deep roots in Wethersfield, Clark is looking into a variety of colleges across the country with communication and journalism degrees, as he hopes to turn his passion into a career.
But before that, he’s got one more season left on the mics at WHS
“I can’t explain how awesome it’s going to be for that first football game,” Clark said of the Eagles home opener against Berlin on Sept 17, “It will be so good to be up in the press box and welcoming everybody back in the stadium, hearing the roar of the crowd.”
Rocky Road Leads Wenzel to CCSU
Logan Wenzel, a 2021 graduate of Middletown High School, will continue his academic and athletic journey at Central Connecticut State University.
Wenzel will play baseball at CCSU after having the last two years of his high school career cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and injuries.
As a high school sophomore, he earned All-Conference and was primed to take the next step as a junior before the COVID-cancellation.
“It allowed me to focus in even harder and push myself,” Wenzel said of the cancellation, “I got to work with pitching coaches and top tier Division 1 talent as soon as the spring came around.”
He was named a captain prior to his senior season this spring and was all set to make a big splash but injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential.
“I missed out on all the first practices and the first game and that was the start of an unfortunate tale. I came back and was playing catch-up from the jump. I ended up creating a tear in my labrum of my throwing arm. I was devastated and I was out for the season from throwing,” added Wenzel, who gutted out his senior season, “I would have never thought the last time I threw a high school pitch would be my all-conference season as an underdeveloped sophomore. I found myself in and out of the lineup as a DH for the rest of the year with nagging injuries including hamstring and injury management of my shoulder.”
Despite the setbacks, Wenzel shared some good times with unforgettable teammates, “A lot of them have gone on to play college ball and succeed. It’s amazing and I love those guys I’ve played with, most of them since I was less than 10 years old, from the little league days to the Generals AAU team to MHS baseball.”
He now has a renewed since of energy and his ready for the next challenge, “I’m getting super healthy and eyeing an incredible comeback story from one of the scariest surgeries a pitcher can get.”
Wenzel credited his Middletown coaches and teammates, along with his AAU teammates and coaches for helping him be the player he is today, “A huge shout out to my Generals team and coaches Paul Radziewicz, Rick Murray, Pat Lenahan, Pat Wantanabe, and Eddie Valariano, and one of my biggest influences Bill Tobin, along with a super important piece to my puzzle, coach Trevor Brown. Couldn’t have down it without him, and a thank you to the MHS staff and family for what they did for me as well.”
Besides baseball, Wenzel also played basketball as a freshman, learning from some incredible MHS athletes, “Being around one of the best athletes I know DeAaron Lawrence and others like Brennan Maxfield, they taught me a lot about wanting to be the best in everything I do, and that hard work truly does pay off.”
He was also part of National Honor Society and added that he took pride in being a presence in the classroom, crediting his brother Tyler Wenzel and his parents for his work ethic.
He also participated in band for the first two years of high school, playing the clarinet and was 2nd chair his sophomore year.
Now fully health following shoulder surgery, he’ll join a Blue Devils team at CCSU that is coming off a 28-15 season, which included a Northeast Conference championship and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“I chose CCSU because they are an incredible program with a school really close to home. I’ve always wanted to land here, and I made my dream become a reality of being a Division 1 pitcher but ultimately that’s just the tip of the iceberg of where I hope to be one day,” stated Wenzel, “I’m excited to show my stuff on a bigger level. Ready to show what Connecticut baseball and the baseball world in general what could have been achieved with a healthy senior season. I think I’m really going to surprise people and turn heads, that’s what I’m preparing myself to do every single day. I can’t wait to bond with these guys and become a true team.”
Casey MacElhiney next destination is Lafayette College where the 2021 Glastonbury High School graduate will run for the school’s XF/TF program and continue her education.
MacElhiney leaves GHS as one of the most decorated runners and teammates in the recent history of the program. This past spring, she was instrumental in helping the Guardians win the Class LL State Championship. She teamed with her sister, Kelley MacElhiney, along with Ava Gattinella and Jackie Caron to win both the Class and State Open in the 4x800 Meter Relay. The relay team went on to compete in the Outdoor Nationals in Oregon.
“I could not be more proud of everything my team has accomplished this year, or more thankful for everything they have allowed me to achieve this year,” MacElhiney said following her final high school season.
Off the track, MacElhiney was involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters club, where she used leadership skills to guide underclassmen as they began high school. She was also part of National Honor Society.
“I am going to miss my teammates and coaches as they are my second family, and I will also miss my teachers and everything they have done for me over the past four years,” MacElhiney said of departing GHS.
She’ll be joining a strong Leopards running program in Easton, Pennsylvania that competes in the Patriot League.
“I chose Lafayette because I liked the atmosphere of both the campus and the team,” said MacElhiney, who will study neuroscience and psychology, “I am very excited to compete at the Division 1 level.”
Rebels Invade Glastonbury
Northeast Bulls come together after suffering a loss to the Hartford Rebels on August 7
The Hartford Rebels defeated the Northeast Bulls 24-0 on August 7 at Glastonbury High School, handing the Bulls their first home loss of the season.
Harford remained undefeated (7-0) with the win, maintaining their lead atop the East Division inside the East Coast Football League’s New England Conference.
“When it’s a big game, we focus on keeping our emotions in check,” said Hartford head coach Benny Fulse, “Our coaching staff is great, we tell our players to play like professionals and conduct ourselves as professional. If everyone does their job, the other team is not going to beat us. Each week we play to finish 1-0.”
The game featured the top two teams in the division.
The Bulls, who play all their home games at GHS, were riding a four-game winning streak. They had won all three home games entering the contest.
“We lost the battle before we took the field. We’ve got to stick together all four quarters,” Northeast head coach Les Maldonado said following the team’s first home loss, “I felt like we didn’t handle adversity.”
Hartford capitalized on the game’s opening possession, marching 59 yards in 10 plays. Quarterback Rayshawn Phillips, a 2016 graduate of Bloomfield High School, connected with Laheim Walcott on a seven-yard scoring strike to give the Rebels a lead they would not relinquish.
Northeast was without the services of starting quarterback David Donahue (illness) and had trouble moving the ball the entire game. Backup quarterback Dimitri Lucy had little time to operate as Hartford massive defensive line was consistently in the backfield.
“We had a lot of missing pieces, guys on our offensive line, our quarterback, some guys on defense, but it’s next man up. Everyone has to get ready like they’re the #1 guy,” added Maldonado, “Football is an emotional sport, it’s how we’ll react that will matter.”
Hartford extended the lead to 16-0 in the second quarter when running back Justin McCray plunged in from a yard out and then converted the ensuing two-point conversion on the ground.
The Bulls threatened to score in the second quarter after Isaiah Bryant intercepted Phillips and returned it to the Hartford 33-yard line.
Two plays later, Hartford returned the favor when Alejandra Bonilla intercepted Lucy inside the red zone to thwart the scoring opportunity.
Hartford added the final nail early in the fourth quarter when Taji Poole took a delayed handoff and knifed through the heart of the Bulls defense for the game’s final score.
The draw play worked all night for the Rebels, who came in with a potent passing attack but used the ground game to drain the clock in the second half.
“Each week we game plan for who we are playing. The teams in the league haven’t seen our full game plan on offense or defense. If I’m able to beat you with six or seven plays, I’ll do that. I try not to show my whole hand that way I’ve got something in the bag for later. A lot of people think we can’t run because we’re a pass-happy team, so they sit on the pass,” said Fulse, “They were more concerned about our passing game. We noticed the linebackers were dropping, so we ran right up the middle where those linebackers were leaving. The were only playing with two linebackers, so we knew if they were dropping, we’ve got you five to four.”
The loss dropped the Bulls to 4-3.
“Personally, I think we were confident, we just didn’t execute. We know how winning feels, but we also know how losing feels and we can’t forget about that,” said Maldonado.
Maldonado gave an impassioned speech to his team following the loss, saying, “Win or lose, it’s doesn’t change what we’re trying to do. It takes everybody. I’ll go down with the ship with you. Losing only builds character.”
This past Saturday, the Bulls fell to 4-4 following a 30-22 loss to the Green Valley Blackhawks at Old Killingly High School.
The same day, the Rebels suffered their fist loss to the hands of the Rhode Island Ravens (20-13) at Annie Fisher Magnet School in Hartford.
On August 12, the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) released guidelines that will allow all high school’s fall sports teams to play a compete regular season, followed by conference and state tournaments.
A year ago, fall sports --- except for football and cheerleading --- were limited to a condensed regular season with a postseason experience that allowed for conference competition. Football and fall’s cheer season was restricted to practice-only with conditioning and non-contact 7-on-7 opportunities.
Fall sports include boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, girls volleyball, girls swimming and diving, football, field hockey, and boys golf – which was previously played in the spring but moved to the fall this year.
Like a season ago, indoor and outdoor sports will have different standards regarding mask wearing. Volleyball will again require masks to be worn during competition. Swimming will not require masks while competing but must be worn outside of competition. All other sports will only require masks to be worn during indoor activities (such as locker rooms, weight rooms, film rooms) but will not be require mask while competing outdoors.
Vaccination status will also determine student’s ability to play or return to play. The CIAC and the Connecticut Depart of Health released a joint statement on July 20, stating, “The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), and many youth sports organizations in our state are joining together in this message to encourage interscholastic Athletic Directors and other youth athletic team administrators to help all of their athletes 12 years and older stay on the field and in the classroom this fall by helping them get vaccinated.”
“One strategy that is available right now for middle school and high school athletes that will help to ensure that they can have a healthy, safe, and uninterrupted fall sports season is getting vaccinated against COVID19. School Athletic Directors and club sports organizers are also encouraged to work with DPH and/or their local health departments to host and sponsor mobile or other vaccine clinics to get middle and high school students and their eligible family members vaccinated.”
“Vaccination of all eligible athletes, coaches, and officials is currently the most important mitigation strategy we have available for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks on youth sports teams, and in the surrounding communities that support them. The more athletes, coaches, officials, and supporting family members who are vaccinated, the more likely interscholastic and other youth sports teams will be able to avoid repeated quarantines and testing of participants, to keep practicing and playing throughout the scheduled season, and to get back to a “new normal” for youth sports in our state. One major perk for getting vaccinated: individuals who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19 case.”
According to the CIAC guidelines, fully vaccinated students/staff who are in close contact with a known COVID-19 case do not have to quarantine from sports or other activities, provided they remain asymptomatic after close contact with a known COVID-19 case and wear a mask until receiving a negative COVID-19 test or 14 days without a test. Unvaccinated asymptomatic students who are a close contact of a known COVID-19 case will quarantine for 10 days (with a negative test between days 7 and 10) or 14 days without a test. Vaccinated and unvaccinated students who experience COVID-19 symptoms after close contact with a known COVID-19 case will quarantine for 10 days (with a negative test between days 7 and 10) or 14 days without a test.
High school teams will began scrimmaging later this month with regular season schedules slated for early September. As on now, teams have a full slate of regular season games/meets with postseason play/tournaments scheduled to take place in November.
Spectators will be permitted and the CIAC will allow each school district to determine the extent.
The CIAC added that, just like last year, the plan is fluid and they will modify or updated as more data, health metrics, and sport specific information changes or becomes available.
For more information or a complete list of team schedules, visit ciacsports.com
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin