Glastonbury girls’ volleyball returns seven seniors. The team is pictured after winning nine of a dozen matches at a jamboree held at GHS last week.
Following a brutally dry, hot, and humid summer, school is back in session and so are high school sports. Here is a look at the athletic teams at Glastonbury High School that will be competing this fall.
Golf was the first sport to tee-off this fall, with Glastonbury winning a pair of matches at Glastonbury Hills Country Club in late-August.
Head coach Tom Zelek returns to lead a young, yet talented group that is eager to follow up a runner-up finish at the Division I state finals during the team’s first season playing in the fall after the sport was moved from the spring.
Despite graduating five seniors — including college-bound golfers Connor Goode and Charlie Dolan — the Guardians return with a lot of promise.
Junior Gavin Kvadus has been named captain and will lead a relatively young team. Kvadus returns to the team with extensive time on the links from his first two years in high school and additional tournament experience throughout the summer.
Other key players returning golfers to the varsity squad are senior leaders Sean Sullivan and Jared D’Angelo, along with juniors Zachary Durant, Stephen Crouse, Dylan Goode, Michael Litke, and sophomore Derek Thomas.
Behind the precise shooting of Kvadus, the Guardians scored an opening day victory over Berlin (170-172) on Aug. 24. Kvadus was the match medalist, shooting a 39, sinking six pars and needing only 14 putts for his fine opening day round. Sullivan followed him with a 42, which included hitting all seven fairways in his round. Thomas and Litke rounded out the scoring in Glastonbury’s first match.
The Guardians then topped Newington (158-177) on Aug. 31. Kvadus and D’Angelo tied atop the leaderboard, each shooting a 37. Both parred eight times and Kvadus hit all nine greens in regulation, while D’Angelo hit six of seven fairways and seven of nine greens in regulation. Litke and Thomas each posted a 42 to tie for the team’s third best score.
Zelek said the team has already shown improvement throughout the first two matches and hopes the team’s confidence continues to grow.
“Golfers know very well how elusive consistency is in this game and the team certainly showed an abundance of it on this day at the Hills,” Zelek stated after the Newington victory. “There was a big improvement in scoring from our first match and I believe this is more of what we will see from our team moving forward this season.”
Zelek added that he’s enjoyed the move to fall, because of the better weather and course conditions.
“We have a relatively young squad, but they bring a lot of both high school golf match experience and summer tournament experience,” stated Zelek. “I strongly believe we will be able to contend well again in the very competitive Division I fall golf season.”
The Guardians have a string of away matches before returning to Glastonbury Hills for a home date with Bloomfield on Thursday, Sept 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Girls Cross Country
Veteran coach Brian Collins leads a team that is again loaded with talent, returning seven All-Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) runners. The Guardians are coming off a Class LL title and a runner-up finish in the State Open last fall.
Sophomore Brooke Strauss, who finished 2nd in both the class and state finals, should again be the leader of the pack after making Connecticut High School Coaches Associations (CTHSCA) All-State and All-New England. Jackie Caron was also selected all-state, while Lucy Bergin, Jackie Dudus, Haley Evans, Ava Gattinella, Kelley MacElhiney each made all-conference. Mikayla Nedder and Jocelyn Wolf should provide the Guardians with additional depth this season.
Along with their performances at the state level, the Guardians also finished 3rd at the New England Championships. Collins said that if everyone stays healthy, the team’s goal is to repeat as Class LL Champions and be in contention for the State Open and New England Championships.
“This can be a very special group again,” added Collins. “Many did the work during the summer to put themselves in position to have a very good season individually and collectively as a team. They work hard each day, they’re focused, determined, and they’re there for each other to grow together as a team.”
The team hosts a meet at JB Williams Park on Tuesday, Sept. 20, welcoming Conard and Avon for a race at 3:45 p.m.
Boys Cross Country
Head coach Mark Alexander returns several runners from the team that helped the team to a top-ten finish at the Class LL finals a year ago.
Returning seniors Harrison Krause, Dominic Pena, Cameron Colletti, Max McCurdy, Ben Yalof, and Alexander Howarth (a transfer student from Delaware) will bring a wealth of experience.
Troy Giaccone and Jace Lewis are the returning juniors, while Jack Collins, Robbie Caruso, Raza Malik, and Austyn Neidel are sophomores.
A large freshman class, featuring eight freshmen, will be following in the footsteps of the experienced runners. The newcomers include: Crawford Cauthen, Sam Hageman, Kyle Hageman, Jaxon Fiske, Tyler Barker, Allister Mihalko, John Salonia, and Kyle Wallace.
Alexander said the growing number of runners is a good sign for a program that welcomes the healthy competition in practice.
“This year's team did a lot of running over the summer to improve,” added Alexander. “I am seeing improvement in most of the team when we started practice. This season is going to be fun.”
The team hosts a meet at JB Williams Park on Tuesday, Sept. 20, welcoming Conard and Avon for a race at 3:45 p.m.
Maureen Perkins, who will be getting inducted into the Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Aqua Turf in Southington on Sept. 11, is back for 24th season on the sidelines in Glastonbury.
The Guardians won 14 games a season ago, including a pair of state tournament games before losing 2-1 in the Class L semifinals to top-seed and eventual state champion New Canaan.
The team graduated a half-dozen starters from the semifinals squad, but they do return a pair of all-conference players in senior midfielder Mikayla Balatbat and junior defender Skylar Fiske.
Balatbat and senior attacker Alicia Choquette will captain the team. Addison Infante, a sophomore midfielder, is the team’s other returning starter.
The other players returning with varsity experience are: Leila Espirito-Santo (senior attacker), Allyson Collette (junior attacker), Avery Olschefskie (junior midfielder), Kiernan Tierney (junior defender), Claire Obendenski (sophomore defender) and Alex Edwards (junior goalkeeper).
“After graduating an integral class, which included six starters, we are looking forward to figuring out where everyone best fits and will help us to be successful,” stated Perkins. “While we have limited playing experience, we have a nice combination of new and returning players who are athletic, hardworking, and driven to continue the success in the CCC and in Class L which teams in previous years have enjoyed.”
Field hockey begins the season at home, hosting Conard on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 2 p.m.
Eric Hennessy is entering his fourth year with the program and wants to see a more complete effort out of the entire team following a 2-8 finish last fall.
Captaining the team on the field will be seniors John Desmarais, Jack Anglim, Jake Jackson, and Danny Ryan.
All-conference stud Jack Petrone, who ran for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns, returns to play both sides.
“I want to see us play with a lot of passion and compete,” said Hennessy. “If we compete for four solid quarters I think we could potentially be a special team.”
The Guardians season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 8 when they welcome Brien McMahon to GHS for a 6 p.m. out-of-conference bout.
Head coach Tony Sanith returns seven seniors to a team that won 14 regular season games and a Class LL tournament game last fall.
All-State middle hitter Evelyn Brenton is back after leading the team in kills and blocks a year ago. She has been named a captain and Sanith said she will take on even more responsibilities and have an expanded role this fall.
Emily Wallace, Jordyn Mik, Kayla Valenches, Anna Morris and Amanda Leclair will join Brenton along the net. Setters Sara Wild and Becca Lavoie will join forces to help set up the front row players, while Megan Cegielski is the team’s most experienced backrow player.
Sanith said the large senior class, both in numbers and height, give the Guardians one of the tallest teams they’ve had in recent years.
“There will be a learning curve as we will need to improve our passing and our defense as the season goes on, but our net presence should be a positive for us,” added Sanith.
The team opens the season on the road, visiting Southington on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. They don’t play at home until Friday, Sept. 23 when they welcome the Knights of Southington to GHS for a match at 6 p.m.
Head coach Jen Dutton is back to lead both the fall and winter cheerleading at GHS. Dutton is joined on the coaching staff by Kelsey O’Brien, who was a former cheerleader under Dutton.
The varsity cheer team is a two-season squad –– chosen in May –– that has committed to cheer for both the fall and winter season. They cheer for football in the fall and basketball in the winter, also competing against other cheer groups and attending three or four competitions around the state during the winter season.
The team has nine seniors, including Melody Jennings and Kyleigh Schuck who will captain a team this fall. Seniors Alexa Bouzakis and Ava Westergren are slated to be the captains during winter competition. Catherine Coleman, Allie Goodwin, Abby Guy, Madeline Noel and Grace Saunders round out the deep senior class.
The large group of seniors will lead a young unit that has 10 sophomores and a pair of freshmen.
Dutton said that Covid-19 took away the team’s ability to really reach their full potential over the last few years and with all the restrictions lifted they are looking forward to getting back to full team participation. She believes that they have a strong and talented group of athletes and will perform well in competition.
“[We] are really excited about this year and can’t wait to see what this team can do,” added Dutton. “We would like to say to the team, especially the seniors, ‘take pride in how far you’ve come and have faith in how far you can go’.”
Following 20 years and eight state championships coaching the boys soccer team, Mark Landers took over the girls program and led them to a dozen wins and a Central Connecticut Conference-West championship, including the best overall winning percentage in the entire CCC.
Hailey Moriarty and Alayna Taylor are the team’s returning all-conference players.
The team starts the season this Friday, Sept. 9 at home, hosting Conard at 6 p.m.
The Guardians won a state tournament game and came within penalty kicks of upsetting No. 1 Xavier in the Class LL tournament in Chris Vozollo’s first year at head coach. Prior to taking over the program, Vozollo served as an assistant for five state championship runs working for a dozen years under Mark Landers.
The team opens the season with three straight road games before returning to host Middletown on Monday, Sept. 19 at 3:45 on the field turf at GHS.
Addison Infante #17 and #7 Mikayla Balatbat are two of three returning starters for the Guardians field hockey team this fall.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin