Rocky Hill junior Daniel DiTunno ran a 17:14 to finish first overall in the Central Connecticut Conference - North as the Terriers captured a conference crown as a team.
DiTunno led the charge as the Terriers captured five of the top six spots in the CCC-North. Brian Smith (17:18) finished second, Corey Christensen (17:20) placed third, Ayden Collura (17:57) finished fourth, and Logan Simons (18:02) took sixth.
The handful of Terriers paved the way as Rocky Hill easily bested the six other teams in the conference, beating runner-up Wethersfield by a wide margin (19-79), and placing third overall in the entire conference.
Next up for Rocky Hill is the Class M State Championship, set to take place Saturday, Oct. 28 at Wickham Park, starting at 11:20 a.m.
Anthony Jr. Napoletano - Newington High School (Soccer): Napoletano scored a goal and dished out an assist as the Nor’easters went on the road and defeated Wethersfield 2-0 in a driving rain on Oct. 20. Through the first 14 games, Napoletano leads Newington with 10 goals. The Nor’easters close the regular season tonight (Thursday, Oct. 26) at Hartford Public, starting at 3:45 p.m.
Dylan Bathrick - Cromwell High School (Cross-Country): Bathrick placed sixth overall at the Shoreline Conference (SLC) championships, running a 16:22 at Hammonasset Park on Oct. 19. Bathrick, a junior, bested 62 other runners as the Panthers placed fifth overall as a team at the conference clash. Next up for Cromwell is the Class SS State Championship, slated for this Saturday (Oct. 28) at Wickham Park in Manchester, starting at 10:45 a.m.
Max Hoon - Wethersfield High School (Golf): Hoon was a medalist, shooting a 38, as the Eagles took down Rocky Hill (162-177) on Oct. 17. Hoon and his teammates then had a top-ten showing at the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) championships with Tatum Skruk posting a team-best 80 at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain on Oct. 19.
Katie Bohlke - Newington High School (Cross-Country): Bohlke finished as the runner-up at the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) Championships at Wickham Park in Manchester, crossing the finish line in 18:38, which bested 190 other competitors on Oct 17. Bohlke, a senior, will now race in the Class L State Championships, set to take placed on Saturday, Oct 28 at the same venue, starting at 2:05 p.m.
Sabrina Schuster - Wethersfield High School (Swimming): Schuster won two individual events (500 freestyle / 100 backstroke) and teamed up with Milena Brodowicz, Sophia Klementon, and Jilian Pitchell to win the 200 medley relay as the Eagles defeated Windsor 87-70 on Oct. 17 to win the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) - North Championship for the 15th straight season. Schuster is also one of six seniors that were recognized prior to the team’s win over Suffield on Oct. 13.
Glastonbury resident Alex Norstom crosses the finish line at the 30th running of the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 14. Along with winning the local marathon, Norstrom posted an Olympic Trail qualifying time. Photo Credit - Steve McLaughlin Photography
Glastonbury resident Alex Norstrom won the 30th running of the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 14, crossing through the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Hartford with an Olympic Trials qualifying time.
Norstrom finished in 2:16:53, besting the runner-up (Kiplangat Terer) by nearly five full minutes, and will now race in Florida next February for a chance to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics in France.
The 27-year old said preparation was the key to both winning and posting his personal-best time.
“It’s always the months and days leading up that really make it successful," noted Norstrom. “My training for the race was by far the best I’ve ever done for any race or event in the past.”
It marked the second time that Norstrom won the annual 26.2 mile race in the Capital City, also breaking the tape in 2021 with a time of 2:20:40.
Since his victory two years ago, he had always eyed an Olympic Trials qualifying time — 2:18:00 and under — but an injury to his lower back nearly derailed his chances.
Last winter, Norstrom was forced to miss miles and scale back on his training following a fracture in the base of his spine that he discovered while he was out on a run.
But through his dedication to the sport and his strong mental makeup, Norstrom returned better than ever after strengthening some “deep core muscles” that helped correct his form.
“Sometimes it takes an injury like that to figure out your body and to prevent injuries from happening,” stated the optimistic distance runner. “Maybe it is one of the reasons why everything worked out.”
The change in training paid dividends as Norstrom was able to log up to 140 miles per week without issue, combining his long runs with strength training and the proper amount of recovery.
“I stayed healthy — never missed a mile, never missed a workout, never got sick or hurt and that is really huge when it comes to running,” recalled Norstrom.
Norstrom journey from an aspiring young runner growing up in Coventry to a two-time winner of the local marathon featured a stop at Central Connecticut State University, which he said really helped him hone his craft.
It was in New Britain where Norstrom’s desire to eclipse long distances began to take shape, excelling in the 10,000 meters, among a variety of other challenging distances while competing for the Blue Devils.
“Every year you learn more about training or how your body can handle certain things and my time at CCSU was big in figuring out who I was as a runner,” recalled Norstrom. “I always had thought that the marathon and longer distances was something that I could take beyond college.”
Eric Blake, who coached Norstrom at CCSU, called him a “tough competitor” and “one of the most committed athletes that I have ever coached.”
“At Central he was one of those guys that could push through those hard days. In a sense he did things the hard way; he never wanted to take the easy way out,” added Blake. “His talent was his ability to work hard and his willingness to work hard.”
Norstrom’s ability to outwork his competitors is even more impressive considering he works a full time job at American Radio Relay League in Newington.
In preparation for the marathon, a typical day for Norstrom is waking up well before sunrise — usually around four in the morning — for a training run before putting in a full day’s work and returning home for his evening run.
“I’m either at work or doing something running related,” stated Norstrom, who has a journalism degree from CCSU and is also currently helping coach the Blue Devils cross-country team this fall.
Norstrom also didn’t take the easiest path to the Olympic Trials in choosing the Hartford Marathon, notoriously one of the more difficult marathons to post faster times.
Yet that didn’t stop the speedster from averaging 5:13 per mile pace.
Norstrom said accomplishing the feat in his home state was also rewarding. He had family and friends — included several from CCSU — on hand to witness the win.
“What I do essentially affects my friends and family, and they see what I do and they get excited,” stated Norstrom. “That is something that drives me, the ability to bring my family together.”
Many of his family and friends plan to follow him to Florida on Feb. 3 where he joins a select group of runners that have also posted Olympic Trials marathon times in certified marathons.
Norstrom and the other qualifying runners will take on the 26.2 mile course through downtown Orlando for a chance to represent Team USA
The top three male and top three female finishers from February’s race will qualify for the Summer Olympic Games, which are set to take place in Paris during the summer of 2024.
With three months to prepare, Norstrom will continue to do most of his training around town where he likes the contrast of flat, paved sidewalks throughout downtown Glastonbury and the rolling hills of South Glastonbury.
“I love it here,” added Norstrom. “Glastonbury is such a great town. Running-wise there’s a lot of cool places to go for a run.”
The seven senior players from the Glastonbury High School’s girls soccer team were victorious on Senior Night. Pictured: top (l-r) Sam Cole, Caleigh Sullivan, Emily Smith; bottom, Hailey Moriarty, Angela Chavez, Jenna Fradin, and Chloe Griffin are leading a team that has qualified for the state tournament starting next month.
Things looked bleak last Tuesday night for the girls soccer team at Glastonbury High School.
Playing on Senior Night, the Guardians trailed visiting Avon 2-1 with time ticking away in the second half before senior Emily Smith provided the spark the team needed.
With ten minutes to play in regulation, Smith received a perfect lead pass from Brynn Barbieri and fired a blast into the left side of the net to even the match.
“I needed to place it well; I needed to finish it for the team,” recalled Smith, who got behind the Avon defense and was one-on-one with the keeper. “I just needed to calm down and put it to the corner.”
Head coach Mark Landers said that Smith “stepped up” when the team needed her, adding, “She came through for us tonight.”
Less than two minutes after Smith’s equalizer, the Guardians scored the go-ahead goal when junior Maddy Handrahan headed in a free kick from Corey Anderson in the 72nd minute.
Anderson pooched the ball over a crowd of players, which Handrahan skipped off her head into the net before being mobbed by teammates in celebration.
The Guardians defense held strong the final eight minutes to preserve the team’s seventh win on the season.
After being held to a single goal for nearly 70 minutes, Glastonbury’s two goals in a matter of 89 seconds proved to be the difference on a night in which the Guardians celebrated seven senior players.
Smith, Hailey Moriarty, Chloe Griffin, Jenna Fradin, Caleigh Sullivan, Samantha Cole, and Angela Chavez were all recognized prior to the game before all seven started the game on the field.
Early on, the Guardians had a few point blank shots go awry and Avon grabbed a 1-0 lead when Kate Loparco dropped in a kick over the top of Faith-Anne Grunwald exactly eight minutes into the match.
At the 7:53 mark in the first half, Anderson tied things up when she hammered home a shot after getting an assist from Rebecca Donovan.
Avon’s Emma Loparco broke the tie by booting a lefty kick into the right hand corner of the net, providing the visiting Falcons a 2-1 lead midway through the second half.
Landers noted that he was impressed with how his team responded to the adversity, crediting his players for carrying out what the coaching staff has been preaching into practice.
A few weeks prior, the Guardians lost in similar fashion to Berlin and flipped the script in the win over Avon.
“We talk about the importance of set pieces all the time and to get a header on a set piece for the game-winning goal says a lot about what we are trying to do,” stated Landers.” You need to have in-game examples of what you practice to make the kids understand how important those situations are.”
Landers was also pleased with his offense, which hadn’t scored more than two goals in six games, dating back to a 3-0 win over Wethersfield on Sept. 23.
With only one goal at the half, Smith said her and her fellow seniors talked about capitalizing on their opportunities.
“We needed to connect on our passes and calm down because we were a little frazzled,” recalled Smith, who added the team was extra hyped up with it being Senior Night. “We need to communicate more and play our game.”
Landers added that the Senior Night triumph was important on many levels, as Avon — a Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) rival — entered GHS with a record of 9-2 and was riding a four game winning streak.
It was also another solid performance form the Guardians defense, which has carried the team through most of the season, allowing more than two goals only once and holding seven opponents scoreless behind a strong back end headed by Grunwald.
Despite losing three one-goal games over the last month, Landers said the team has continued to grind.
“We haven’t lost our belief in each other and that important,” added Landers. “We haven’t lost that belief in how we play. We are playing good soccer and we’re moving the ball well, we just have to continue to stay true to who we are.”
Two days following the victory over Avon, the team tied Southington 1-1 thanks to a spectacular goal from Anderson. Entering the week, the Guardians have posted a record of 7-5-2.
They closes out the regular season today (Thursday, Oct. 26) welcoming Simsbury to GHS for a match at 3:45. The Guardians will be seeking to avenge a 2-0 loss at Simsbury from Sept. 20.
With the Class LL tournament starting in early November, Landers said each test going forward is important and credited his seniors for steering the ship.
“All seven of them have been nothing but exceptional in their character,” Landers said of the Class of 2024 players. “The seniors always make sure the other [players] understand their value and make them part of the group. It might not come from the tactical or technical parts of the game, but more like aspects of having a good locker room and having people feel good about being together.”
This fall, Portland High School’s volleyball program created history by competing at the varsity level for the first time.
Head coach Mary Tobias said her Highlanders have grown leaps and bounds since they first started as a junior varsity team in the fall of 2021.
“To see the growth in them is why you coach,” added Tobias. “They’ve grown into the sport and they understand the skills and have gotten better at the skills.”
When the team took the court for their first official varsity game on Sept 7, it was the payoff for a project that was started three years ago by Bella Hettrick-Rivera.
Hettrick-Rivera grew up around the sport of volleyball, but the high school didn’t have a team, so she took matters into her own hands — using her Capstone Project as an opportunity to bring a volleyball program to Portland High.
“The idea came my junior year and originally I thought it would be too late to make my Capstone, but I wanted to compete it anyways because I wanted to play,” recalled Hettrick-Rivera, who had previously played club volleyball outside of school. “I wanted to bring that community to Portland high School.”
After numerous meetings with school administrators and sending a proposal to the Connecticut Interscholastic Association Conference (CIAC) — the governing body of high school sports — Hettrick-Rivera’s dream became a reality the fall of her senior year when the Highlanders made their debut, playing a handful of road games at the junior varsity level.
“I knew it wouldn't be the level I was used to, but I was totally okay with that. I was just excited to have that kind of experience with my fellow classmates,” recalled Hettrick-Rivera, who graduated after the initial season.
Following another season at the junior varsity level in 2022, the Highlander took on a varsity schedule this fall with a roster full of eager players aiming to elevate the program to the next level.
Elvira Medunjanin, Katie Laverty, and Ella Royea have been with the program since day one and have now assumed the captain’s chairs for the initial varsity team.
Along with being the most vocal player, Medunjanin is the lone senior captain, using her outgoing personality and positive attitude to influence the team.
“Being the only senior captain is cool, it gives me a feeling of leadership,” stated Medunjanin, who added that her goal this fall was to get the team to communicate more. “Everyone gets more connected. It helps us out on the court and in school, and everywhere.”
Laverty and Royea, both juniors, said that Medunjanin has influenced the entire team in a positive way.
Tobias agrees, adding, “Elvira is always positive. No matter what anybody does on the court, she finds that positive piece. She is our cheerleader for sure — the girls really look up to her.”
When building a program, experience is always tough to find and Laverty, who plays club in the offseason, is using her knowledge to help the team. She said being a varsity captain is something she takes seriously.
“I feel honored,” added Laverty, a starting setter. “We are the ones that are encouraging everyone on the team and inspiring them — we try to make the sport fun for everyone.”
Now having nearly three full seasons under their belts, Royea said it is the connection between players that is the biggest difference on the court this fall.
“We have a lot more chemistry as a team on the court and off the court.” added Royea. “I think we have more knowledge of how the game works and for a lot of people it’s the first time playing, so we’ve been able to bring everyone together.”
Tobias, who was previously an assistant volleyball coach at CHS, has been heading the program since day one.
The third-year head coach credited Hettrick-Rivera for laying the groundwork and added that the early days in the fall of 2021 were a learning experience as the team didn’t have much of the equipment needed, forcing the team to use makeshift nets and play all road games.
She added that her three captains are the perfect trio for a program building for the future, saying they each bring something different to the table.
“They are the best kids. I couldn't have asked for better mentors for the kids coming in,” noted Tobias. “They are leaders for sure; they are enthusiastic and positive,”
Coming into the week, the Highlanders are winless in the first 13 matches this fall, yet wins and losses are not what will define the program’s initial season at a varsity level.
Instead, Tobias said that the team resembles a legitimate varsity team that has used the experience of the last couple of seasons to create a winning locker room.
“They are now playing as a team and putting in actual plays. It’s really nice to see,” added Tobias. “We’re trying to build a culture of sportsmanship and they have taken that to the nth degree. It’s wonderful to see their growth.”
For Hettrick-Rivera, seeing her Capstone project morph into a varsity team has been an “amazing experience.”
“It makes me feel like I left my mark on the school and there is some legacy there,” added Hettrick-Rivera, who is currently studying aerospace and mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “I’m so glad those girls get that opportunity now.’
The Highlanders have three matches left this season, including consecutive home dates, starting tonight (Friday, Oct. 20) against Coginchaug. They also host Cromwell this upcoming Monday, Oct. 23 in their home finale. Both matches start at 5:30 p.m.
Julia Laabs - Wethersfield High School (Volleyball): Laabs has been a leader on the court for a Wethersfield team that has qualified for the state tournament with a recent five-game winning streak. Laabs, a senior captain, was instrumental during the five games, racking up a dozen kills in a win over Enfield. She also posted six aces and another eight kills, six aces, and three blocks in a win over East Catholic. The Eagles host Newington this upcoming Monday, Oct 23 before closing the regular season with a home match against Norwich Free Academy on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Both matches start at 5 p.m.
Brian Smith - Rocky Hill High School (Cross Country): Smith placed third overall as the Terriers won the Small School Division at the 11th Annual Winding Trails XC Invitational in Farmington. Smith, a sophomore, ran a 17:02 to finish ahead of 84 other competitions at the invite and was one of four Terriers to place in the top-eight. Corey Christensen (5th / 17:21), Ayden Collura (6th / 17:24), Nathan Peskin (8th / 17:28) rounded out the top four Rocky Hill runners as the Terriers easily bested the 12 other schools to win the competition.
Ben Burdick - Cromwell High School (Soccer): Burdick scored late in regulation to secure a 2-1 win over Old Lyme last Monday. Burdick, a freshman, scored the decisive goal and junior Ethan Went got things started with a first-half goal to help Cromwell pick up their fifth win. The Panthers next host Valley Regional tonight (Thursday, Oct. 19) for a match at 6 p.m.
Anaya Farmer - Newington High School (Volleyball): Farmer had a career-high seven aces as the Nor’easters beat Rocky Hill in three sets last month. Farmer, a junior who leads the team in blocks this season, then had seven kills and a pair of aces in the following match – a four set victory over South Windsor as Newington picked up win No. 5.
Tess Parker - Wethersfield High School (Field Hockey): Parker, a senior goalie, made 15 saves as the Eagles knocked off powerhouse Hall 3-2 on Oct. 10. WHS head coach Colleen Budaj praised the performance of Parker and fellow senior Sadie Ruiz — who scored a pair of goals — while senior Brynn Lisella added the team’s only goal. Wethersfield starts a four-game home stand this Saturday, Oct 21 when they welcome Enfield to Cottone Field for a game at 12 p.m. They also play host to Glastonbury (Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 3:45 p.m.), South Windsor (Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.), and Newington (Monday, Oct. 30 at 3:45 p.m.)
Rocky Hill’s Danny Roach competes with RHAM’s Nicholas Chmielewski for the ball during the Terriers 1-0 win over Oct. 6.
Paul Horta is in his fourth season on the sidelines for the Rocky Hill boys soccer team, coaching the current crop of seniors since they first stepped foot onto McVicar Field.
The strong bond between coach and players is paying dividends this season as the Terriers have posted a 5-3-3 record against a scheduled loaded with the premiere teams in the state.
With the state tournament right around the corner, Horta likes how his team has responded against the elite competition.
“I am humbled and privileged to be coaching these kids, because they are unselfish,” Horta said of his 2023 squad. “We circled this as the year when it all came together.”
On Oct. 6 the Terriers tallied a defining conference victory, defeating RHAM 1-0 at McVicar Field in what turned out to be a nail-biting battle for 80 minutes.
In the 57th minute, Noah Kazmierczak broke a scoreless tie when senior captain David Czubat fired a long shot that slipped through the hands of RHAM goalie TJ Machowski before Kazmierczak hammered it home.
“I was trying to put it near the post,” Czubat said of the play. “I was just trying to get someone to get a hit on it.”
Senior goalie Kyle Demarest preserved the shutout by making a couple of key saves down the stretch.
Horta called Demarest “a great kid” that would do anything to help the team, noting that Demarest was a former field player that shifted to keeper.
The win over RHAM was the Terriers third straight, also beating Hartford public (7-0) on Sept. 29 and Lewis Mills (3-2) on Oct. 3.
With seven senior starters, Horta said the Class M Terriers have been competitive in every game with their only losses coming to Class LL powerhouses Hall, Glastonbury, and Farmington.
Because of the team’s success the last couple of seasons, Rocky Hill was moved up to tier one in the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) and have went toe-to-toe with the conference powerhouses, which Horta has welcomed.
“This team’s character is great,” added Horta. “They’ve played hard in every game.”
Horta is leaning on what he called a “senior-laden” team, with all levels of the field littered with the class of 2024 players.
It is also a defensive heavy team with Czubat and fellow senior captain Jaiden Daigle starring as center backs, helping protect the backend with Demarest.
“In my opinion, David and Jaiden are as good as any two center backs in the state. I will go to battle with them any time.” Horta said of his defensive captains, who each earned all-conference as juniors last fall. “They have played every single game in high school. It’s been building and every year we’ve gotten more competitive with good teams.”
Czubat said that because of the experience from the last couple of years, the team hit the ground running this fall.
“We’ve been working hard in practice and now we’re playing much better as a team and getting those results,” added Czubat. “Our chemistry is very good.”
Senior forward Jason Nadeau is also back following an all-conference junior season, leading an offense that is getting timely goals in crucial moments.
Last Tuesday, the Terriers defeated Newington 2-1, earning their second victory against the Nor’easter this fall.
The program last won a state championship in 1999 and Horta said the players know the task at hand, which is to compete at the highest level once the state tournament starts next month.
“We need everybody in order to do great things that haven’t been done here in 20 or so years,” added Horta. “We have a chance, and that’s all we want is a chance.”
Senior captain David Czubat boots the ball as senior goalie Kyle Demarest looks on.
Spooky the cat was missing for nearly a month and thanks to the generosity of the community of Glastonbury, he was reunited with his family in Florida last month.
With Halloween right around the corner, stories of fright will fill the night.
But this spooky story has a happy ending.
While on a trip to Mexico in 2019, Anne Lyons was volunteering at a local animal shelter in Isla Mujeres when she crossed paths with a black cat that would soon change her life forever.
Known as Jaime at the time, the cat bonded with the Glastonbury resident, who wanted to bring the affectionate feline back to the family home on Morgan Drive.
But, because of a multitude of factors, it was not meant to be at the time.
After returning to Glastonbury, Anne could not stop thinking about the homeless cat and decided to follow up with the agency and much to her surprise –– Jaime had been transferred to an animal shelter in Boston.
Anne called it “a sign” and decided to pursue adoption.
However, adopting the cat that had originally been abandoned in Cancun prior to the pit stop in Isla Mujeres before his arrival in Bean Town would come with a caveat as Jamie had a sister, Maria, and the cats had to be adopted as a pair.
After some negotiating with her husband, the family welcomed the pair of cats into their home in the fall of 2019 –– renaming Jamie, Spooky, and Maria, Boo Cat.
For the next four years, the local family lived in harmony until the tale took a twisted turn when the Lyons were in the process of relocating to Florida this past summer
While packing up their house in preparation for the long haul to the Sunshine State, Spooky escaped and was nowhere to be seen, vanishing like a ghost in the night.
Spooky disappeared on August 27 and the Lyons closed on the sale of their house on September 1 before making the long drive to Florida without their beloved cat.
“I was devastated; my husband and daughter were extremely upset,” recalled Anne. “We were supposed to be on such a fun adventure and instead we were gutted. It felt like our family was not intact.”
Over the next 24 days, the Lyons discovered what has made Glastonbury and the surrounding community so special.
With the help of several complete strangers and the kindness of the family that bought their house, a search to find Spooky began.
Jill and Andrew Beaule, the new owners of the home on Morgan Drive, were more than willing to help in the search, offering anything they could to reunite Spooky with the Lyons.
“My husband and I grew up with animals and it pulled on our heartstrings,” Jill said. “We wanted to do anything we could to get Spooky back.”
Anne said the Beaule family allowed cameras and traps to be set up on their property, along with search parties and other disruptions without hesitation.
“I call them my angels,” Anne said of Jill and Andrew.
Protector or Animals, Animal Control, and the entire surrounding neighborhood –– featuring residents on Morgan Drive, Hardin Lane, Stevens Lane, and Sherman Drive –– all pitched in, working day and night to find Spooky.
But the wayward animal remained in the wild for over three weeks despite local neighbors hearing his cries in the night.
In mid-September, Anne returned to Glastonbury in a desperate attempt to find Spooky, setting up camp in her former yard and battling the rain for several days – but again to no avail.
On September 21, Anne sadly returned to Florida without Spooky, saying she thought the search may be over. Yet to her amazement, when he checked the cameras on the morning she arrived back in Florida she saw her beloved black cat walking into the trap.
Jill believes that Anne’s trip back to Glastonbury was the catalyst that ultimately ended Spooky’s outdoor adventure.
“Cats always love to be home and I think with Anne coming back [Spooky] felt that,” Jill stated. “I always think animals have some sort of sixth sense.”
Not even 24 hours after arriving back in Florida, Anne hopped back on a flight to finally reunite with Spooky in Connecticut.
Anne said there was “a lot of crying” during the reunion, adding, “Cats are special animals. They are part of the family and you can’t give up sometimes.”
Now the Lyons family is whole again, living their best lives in Port St. Lucie thanks to the support of the town they formerly called home.
Anne, who traveled over 10,000 miles between Florida and Glastonbury in the search for Spooky, added that it would not have
been possible without generosity of the entire community and the relentless efforts of Protector of Animals and Animal Control.
“You live somewhere for six years and you go to work every day and you see your neighbors, but you don’t really know them, or at least I didn’t, and all of a sudden this little cat bring everyone together and now we’re all friends,” she added.
Last week, Glastonbury High School boys golf team won a pair of home matches at Glastonbury Hills Country Club. The victories extend the Guardians’ undefeated divisional record to 11-0 and improved the team’s overall record to 16-1.
It’s been both a fruitful and unique year for GHS head coach Tom Zelek, who has five quality seniors playing pivotal roles on and off the links.
Senior captain Gavin Kvadus has again been the leader in the clubhouse after finishing tied as the runner-up at the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) Championships and third overall at the CIAC State Championships last fall.
“The biggest thing is building off of what we did last year,” Kvadus said of the team’s goals coming into this season. “We have the same core of guys this year and we just had to build off that and focus on the points where we weren’t at our best last year.”
Behind Kvadus are four solid Class of 2024 golfers in Zachary Durant, Stephen Crouse, Michael Litke, and Dylan Goode – each capable of finishing atop the leaderboard at any given meet.
“They are all solid players that rarely make big mistakes,” Zelek said of his seniors. “They are all great kids.”
In a win over Newington (163-169) last Tuesday, Durant led the way by shooting a 39, recording seven pars and only needed 16 putts to complete his round.
Durant said close meets against a competitive conference opponent like Newington are helpful with the end-of-the-season tournaments right around the corner.
“It challenges us,” stated Durant. “We always want to come out and play our best. It pushes us; it’s good practice going into states.”
Crouse shot a 40, hitting six greens in regulation and six of the seven fairways to complete his round.
“Everyone works together, we get along well,” Crouse said of the well-rounded team. “It makes the team better. Every day we come out and compete and try to make each other better.”
Litke, who shot a 41, added that it’s a healthy competition between the seniors during practice and play, adding, “We are all friends. We all have reasons to want to beat each other, so that probably helps, but none of us take it super serious. We all just want to do well,”
Goode is the younger brother of Connor Goode, a 2023 GHS graduate in his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut where he was recently named the Big East Co-Golfer of the Week after capturing an individual title at the UConn Invitational.
Dylan said watching his brother succeed at GHS and now at UConn had helped him as a golfer, adding his time at the high school has gone by fast.
“I’m getting a little nostalgic,” he stated. “Next year I won’t be playing here, so you just have to take in the moment.”
The day following the Newington victory, Glastonbury again defended their home course, posting a (160) to beat both Berlin (172) and Wethersfield (185).
Kvadus hit six greens, recording a birdie to go along with six pars to fire a round of (+2) 38. Junior standout Derek Thomas also posted a 38.
Zelek said that “nobody works harder at his game” than Thomas and added that freshman Chase Robustelli, along with the handful of seniors, have created a force of seven solid golfers that have “risen to the occasion” this fall.
Along with winning 16 of 17 regular season meets, the Guardians were also victorious in the Avon Invitational in early-October taking home the team title at the 18-hole tournament in Simsbury.
Next up is the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) tournament today (Thursday, Oct. 19). A year ago the Guardians finished fifth overall at the conference finals.
The season will wrap up with the CIAC Division I Fall Championship on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Stanley Golf Course, teeing off at 8:30 a.m.
“The biggest thing is going out and trying to win states –– that’s the goal every year,” said Kvadus. “It’s our last year and we just want to go out and do our best.”
Here are the Rivereast Standouts for the Week for the week of Oct. 9 - 15:
Ava Machowski - RHAM High School (Soccer): Machowski, a senior, has continued to light up the scoreboards, scoring three goals in the Raptors 4-0 win over Plainville on Oct. 5. Machowski’s hat trick upped her goal total to 18 through the first eight games as RHAM have won seven of those matches, qualifying them for state tournament.
Kiera Stewart - Bacon Academy (Volleyball): Stewart dished out 22 assists as the Bobcats defeated Killingly in four sets on Oct. 6. Stewart, a senior setter and team captain, is coming off consecutive all-state selections during her sophomore and junior seasons on the court. On Tuesday, the Bobcats won a second straight game, defeating Wheeler in three set and next host Waterford today (Friday, Oct 13) at 5:30 p.m.
Olivia Correia - East Hampton High School (Soccer): Correia scored a pair of goals as the Bellringers defeated New London 4-3 on Oct. 4. Correia, a freshman, led a Bellringers offensive unit scored their most goals in a game since a season-opening 6-1 win over North Branford/Hale Ray on Sept 9. Marissa Martin and Rachel Boudreau also scored in the win over New London, which snapped a four-game losing streak. The Bellringers next host Bolton on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 3:45 p.m.
Ava Maselek - Portland High School (Soccer): Maselek scored a pair of goals as the Highlanders defeated Westbrook 3-0 on Oct. 3. Maselek, a senior, led the offensive charge that also got a goal from Camryn DiMauro. Portland’s defense — headed by Gracie DeRing, Lilly Carroll, Katie Hickey, and Elli Hannah — posted their fourth shutout of the season and then blanked their fifth opponent on Monday, downing East Granby 1-0. The Highlanders travel to Cromwell this Saturday (Oct. 14) for a conference clash with the Panthers at 9 a.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin