WHS scholar-athletes recipients Lindsey Pia and Michael Bielak
In late April, the CAS-CIAC announced the 2020-2021 scholar-athlete selections, recognizing two seniors from each high school. Recipients were student-athletes whose academic and athletic careers have been exemplary, whose personal standards and achievements are a model to others, and who possess high levels of integrity, self-discipline, and courage. It is one of the longest running CAS-CIAC events, honoring standout senior student athletes every year since 1984.
Lindsey Pia and Michael Bielak were selected from Wethersfield High School.
Pia is a four-year varsity diver for the swimming and diving team, who was a state finalist her junior year and a state qualifier her senior season. She helped lead the Eagles to three CCC divisional titles and an undefeated senior season. She has stayed active at WHS, helping organize nine blood drives for the American Red Cross, and was a member of the National Honor Society and an officer in the Spanish National Honor Society. She has also served as a mentor in the Wethersfield Festival Orchestra and also played for the Hartt School of Music. As a junior, Pia received the Smith College Book Award and was selected to participate in the University of Connecticut's pre-med and pre-dental high school program. Next year, she will attend The Ohio State University as a Biochemistry major on a pre-dental track.
Bielak is a three-sport star, playing football, basketball, and lacrosse. He is a proud member of the inaugural WHS Boys Varsity Lacrosse team, playing a key role this spring for an Eagles that that is ranked second overall in Class M. Bielak excels in the classroom and challenges himself by taking AP courses in Psychology, Spanish, Calculus, Physics and English Literature, and was named AP Scholar. He also is involved in the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Social Studies National Honor Society, and the WHS Jets Team, and volunteers as a peer tutor. As a junior, Bielak received Bausch + Lomb Science Award and was selected as an American Legion Connecticut Boys State Delegate. Next year, he will attend the University of Rochester where he will major in Biology.
Maren Valente and Abhishek Singh were selected from Rocky Hill High School
Valente was an All-State cross country runner at the high school, also participating in soccer and track during her time at the RHHS. Valente, who will attend the University of Miami, said this of the honor, "The selection as a CIAC Scholar Athlete is super exciting! I am incredibly thankful for my coaches and teammates who have made each sport season so much fun and have pushed me to do my best on the track and also in the classroom. It’s awesome to be recognized for this award with such a great group of kids that are diligent in both school and in their sports. We’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last four years, so it is amazing to see it pay off."
Singh played tennis and was a distance runner at RHHS. Singh, who will be attending the University of Connecticut next fall, said this of the honor, “I am very proud of being selected as a Scholar-Athlete. I wasn't expecting to receive this award, but I think that the effort I show in both athletics and academics was what led to my selection. I do both cross country and tennis, and, while I am not the best athlete at either sport, I strive to work as hard as I can in both while balancing the work I need to do for my classes. Overall, I am honored to be chosen as a Scholar-Athlete for Rocky Hill High School.”
Monica Dewey and Zack Randozza were selected from Cromwell High School
Dewey has excelled on both the basketball courts and the softball fields as CHS. She was a contributor on the Panthers 2018-2019 girls’ basketball state champion team and this past winter she averaged four assists and 3.5 steals a game. She is currently serving as a captain for the softball team, playing catcher and having a solid season from the plate. Dewey, who will attend the Central Connecticut State University, said of the honor, “I am incredibly grateful to have been selected as a Scholar Athlete. This selection is important to me because it recognizes the hard work that I have put in on the field, on the court, and in the classroom. I was raised to work hard at everything, to always be respectful and humble, and to constantly dedicate myself to being better than I was the day before. For as long as I can remember, I have implemented this mentality to my academic and athletic performance. I focus and work hard in the classroom because of the satisfaction I find in knowing I have learned something. In softball and basketball, I always give my unrelenting effort because of my passion for the game and my desire to respect not just my coaches, teammates or the opposing team, but the game itself. I owe it that much, considering the blessings playing sports has given me, such as meeting inspiring people, experiencing once-in-a-lifetime moments and providing me with an exciting purpose each day. I hope that my work ethic and my leadership has made my family, coaches and teachers proud and that I have left a lasting mark on Cromwell High School and the surrounding community.”
Randozza excelled on the soccer fields at CHS, leading the Panthers in goals (8) this past fall. He will be attending the University of Connecticut, starting next fall.
Talia Ventrelli and Trevor Dreshcer were selected from Middletown High School
Ventrelli was part of Middletown’s successful dance team and is currently competing on the Blue Dragons lacrosse team. Outside of athletic, she was part of National Honors Society, Student Council, and Yearbook. She will be attending Endicott College next fall to study nursing, saying this about the prestigious honor, “Being selected as a recipient of the 2021 CIAC Scholar Athlete Award is an incredible honor. As a three season, four-year, varsity athlete, I have always strived to achieve an award such as this one. During a year of many losses and uncertainties, I am grateful to be recognized for such a high achievement.”
Dreshcer was an accomplished thrower (shot put, javelin, discus) on the track teams and a swimmer at MHS. He will be attending Bucknell University next fall.
Grace Canepari and Joshua Akosa were selected from Newington High School
Canepari starred in both soccer and lacrosse at NHS.
Akosa was recently named at the Class of 2021 Valedictorian at NHS. He was also a runner at the school and is currently starting on for the reigning state champion volleyball team.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin