East Hampton’s girls’ volleyball championship was selected as the top local sports moment of 2022. The Bellringers won the program’s first ever championship on Nov. 19.
1. Bellringers Volleyball Wins It All
East Hampton girls’ volleyball won the program’s first state title, defeating Hale Ray at East Haven High School to win the Class S state championship on Nov. 19. The championship triumph ended a historic season for the Bellringers, who won their final 18 matches of the season, capturing both a conference and state title along the way. Senior captain Jordan Murphy was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player during a season in which she led the team with 262 kills this season, including 60 over the four state tourney games. Murphy, along with her sisters Jenna and Amber Murphy, and Chelsea Woods earned all-conference during the historic season.
2. Heslin Siblings Make History
On Feb. 27, Emma and Jackson Heslin of Marlborough became the first siblings to win a high school wrestling state championship on the same day. They also became the first brother-sister combo ever to be crowned State Open wrestling champions by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC). Emma Heslin also became the first female wrestler at RHAM High School to capture a state championship by winning the State Open in the girls’ 99-pound division. Jackson Heslin, a freshman at Xavier High School in Middletown, won the boys’ 120-pound bracket as Xavier won the State Open championship as a team.
3. Another Volleyball Triumph for RHAM
The girls’ volleyball team at RHAM High School won a state championship, defeating Woodland to capture the Class M title at East Haven High School on Nov. 19. It was the program's second straight state championship and ninth title since 2007. Ally Hadley was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and joined Sarah West, Lani Fecho, Neve Tyler as all-conference recipients.
4. Anderson Phenomenal in Poll
Freshman Riley Anderson was named the Class S Swimmer of the Year after breaking the school record in the 50 freestyle and finishing first at the Class S championships with a time of 23.20. Anderson ended for first year in the high school pools with a State Open championship triumph in the 50 freestyle, besting her previous mark by swimming a 23.07 to cement the first-place finish ahead of runner-up Riley Kudlac, a senior from Glastonbury High School who will be swimming collegiately at George Washington University next year.
5. Repeat Performance for Portland Golf
The Highlanders swept through all 16 regular season matches before winning both the Shoreline Conference championship in May and Division III state championship at Fairview Golf Course in Harwinton on June 7. It was the team’s second straight state championship and the program’s fifth title in the past six seasons. Sophomore Luke Stennett again shined on the links, earning the co-medalist at the state championship events after shooting an eagle on the final hole to finish tied atop the leaderboard. Quinn Lapinski shot a 75 (+3) to finish 3rd, Eli Evison shot a 78 (+6) to finish tied for 7th, and Joseph LaMalfa shot an 84 (+12) to tie for 23rd.
6. Historic Season on the Links for Raptors
Boys’ golf at RHAM High School won the program’s first ever state championship, winning the Division II state championship at Tallwood Country Club on June 6. The Raptors ran away with the championship, defeating runner-up Ellington by 14 strokes as four RHAM golfers finished in the top 11 out of 85 total golfers. Carson Waddell and Conner Rabbitt led the way, each shooting a 77 (+5) to tie for 3rd individually. Holden Sullivan shot a 78 (+6) to finish tied for 7th and Jimmy Hulland shot a 79 (+7) to finish 11th.
7. Calhoun Shatters Record Books
Liam Calhoun rewrote the record books at RHAM High School in 2022, breaking eight school records. During the indoor track season in the winter, he rewrote school records in the 600 meters, 800 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters, and was part of the 4x800 relay team that set a new program mark. Calhoun continued his record-breaking ways in the spring, setting a new mark in the 3,200 and topping his own record in the one-mile. RHAM’s record breaker runner is now cross-country and track and field teams at Wesleyan University.
8. Bobcats Basketball Best Bellringers in Tourney
Bacon Academy girls’ basketball defeated East Hampton 30-26 in the Class M semifinals on March 14, earning a spot in the state championship game. Valerie Luizzi, who scored a game-high 17 points – including a dozen over the final 16 minutes, calmly sank a pair of free throws to put the game on ice with 4.6 left in regulation. The win advanced the Bobcats to the state championship for the first time since 2017.
9. Delisle Breaks Pair of PHS Record
Portland High School’s Owen Delisle broke the school record in the 800 meters, running a time of 1:59.92 to finish as the runner-up at the Class S championships at Willow Brook Park in New Britain on May 31. Delisle was also an anchor on the school’s 4x400 relay team –teaming with Simon Kandeke, Teddy Williams, and Jake Thompson – to break the school record in the 4x400 at the Shoreline Conference Championships earlier in May.
10. Remiszewski Lifts Bellringers Soccer
Jakub Remiszewski’s penalty kick ended a marathon of a game as East Hampton boys’ soccer advanced to the Class S semifinals with a win over Canton on Nov. 11. Playing on a rain-soaked field, the teams battled through 100 minutes of game play before the game went into penalty kicks where East Hampton’s all-conference goalie Thomas Fenton made a pair of crucial stops and the Bellringers netted all five of their penalty shots. Brennan Johnson, Oren Wilson, William Nafis, Ephraim Butson each made their kicks, setting the stage for Remiszewski to boot home the game-ender. East Hampton would defeat Notre Dame-Fairfield in the state semifinals to advance to the program’s first state championship since 2014.
11. Nylen Lights Up Scoreboard
RHAM High School football star Max Nylen had a game for the ages on Oct. 1, totaling 507 yards and scoring eight touchdowns as the Raptors beat Farmington 69-39. Nylen ran for 375 yards, scoring seven touchdowns on the ground and hauling in a receiving touchdown from 29 yards out. He added 103 return yards—31 on kick returns and 72 more on an interception. Nylen’s eight touchdowns tied him for the third most in a game in the history of high school football in Connecticut. This fall, he set a new single-season mark in touchdowns (24) and became the program all-time leader with 38 career touchdowns despite missing his sophomore season because of the COVID-19 cancellation.
12. Russell Joins Elite Club
Gyanna Russell, a 2017 graduate of East Hampton High School who went on to star on the basketball courts at Southern New Hampshire, scored her 1,000th career college point on Feb. 5. Russell is still East Hampton’s all-time leading scorer with 1,478 points and joined a rare group of 1,000 point double-dippers, achieving the feat in both high school and college.
13. Highlanders Hardball Dunks Bellringers
The baseball team at Portland High School beat East Hampton 2-0 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on May 17. Under the bright lights in Hartford, Spencer Rosado pitched a two-hitter and scored the game’s first run when he was driven home by Michael Quesnel, who would later score an insurance run following a sacrifice fly by Austin Vess. It was a complete turnaround from the team’s game the previous month where the Bellringers dealt the Highlanders a 14-0 loss at PHS.
14. RHAM-Grad Wins National Title
Alex Heline, a 2018 graduate from RHAM High School, became a national champion rower when she was one of nine girls at Worcester Polytechnic Institute that powered a boat that won the varsity eight+ Division III NCAA rowing championship at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Fla. on May 28. Heline’s name will forever be associated with the program’s first national championships and the rowers joined the 1986 men’s golf team as the only national champions in school history.
15. Bellringer Vaults to Top
East Hampton High School’s Nicholas Rivard-Lentz took first place in the pole vault at the Class S championships on May 31. Rivard-Lentz also won the Shoreline Conference Championship and finished as the runner-up in the State Open before taking his talent to new heights by vaulting a personal-best 14’3” at the New England championships in June.
16. Highlanders Round Ball Eliminates Top Seed
Portland High School boys’ basketball upset No. 1 seed Terryville, 57-52, in the second round of the Division V state tournament on March 10. Eli Evison scored 21 points and Joe Rusczyk added 13 to lead the Highlanders to the upset over a Terryville team that had won 19 of 20 games in the regular season. The Highlanders entered the state tourney as the No. 16 seed before winning a home tournament game over Coventry and knocking out the division’s top-ranked team in the second round.
17. Nudd Nets 1,000th Point
Bacon Academy High School’s Marissa Nudd scored her 1,000th career high school point as the Bobcats beat Ledyard on Dec. 20. Nudd surpassed the four-digit milestone on a layup with 37.9 seconds left in the first quarter, becoming the eighth player in program history to hit the 1,000-point mark. Her sister, Kellie Nudd, was the last player to surpass 1,000 points, achieving the feat in 2019.
18. East Hampton T&F Excels at States
The girls’ indoor track and field team finished as the runner-up at the Class S state championship on Feb. 12. Kaylee Gravel won the 1,000 meters and Brylee Montanari won the 55-meter hurdles to take home individual championships as East Hampton finished ahead of 28 other teams. Gravel and Montanari continued their championship way in the spring, each winning individual state titles at the Class S outdoor track and field championship on May 31. Gravel, who is now on the running teams at Central Connecticut State University, won the 800 meters and Montanari, who is now on the running teams at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, won the 100-meter hurdles.
19. Martino Makes His Mark
Bacon Academy High School’s Jake Martino proved to be one of the best athletes in the state, finishing 8th in the decathlon at Willow Brook Park in New Britain on June 15. It was the second straight year that Martino competed in the 10-event challenge, which features 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter run, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meter run. The decathlon was the finale for what was a record-breaking junior year for Martino, who won the Class MM discus championship on June 2 and also previously broke the school record in the discus during a regular season meet, topping the previous mark by over three feet.
20. Salamone Achieves All-State
East Hampton High School’s Liana Salamone made the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State basketball team in March following a phenomenal first season on the high school hardwood. Salamone, who was the only freshman selected to the team, scored a team-high 445 points and averaged 17.1 points to power the Bellringers offense. The all-round point guard also did so much more than just score – averaging 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 steals per game.
21. Highlanders Soccer Surges
In the program’s first year under new head coach Cory Tobler, the girls’ soccer team at Portland High School advanced to the Class S state semifinals and battled No. 1 seed Lyman Memorial into penalty kicks on Nov. 16. It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that won only one of their first six games in 2022 before ending the regular season red hot and winning three straight state tournament games behind senior captains Mia Quesnel and Amelia Hair. Quesnel, Hair, Camryn DiMauro, and Kaitlyn Hickey all earned all-conference.
22. Kleinhen Sparks Raptors
RHAM’s Ailish Kleinhen came off the bench to drain five three-pointers and score a game-high 20 points as the Raptors rallied in the closing minutes to beat Bacon Academy 43-39 in front of a spirited home crowd at RHAM High School on Feb. 3. Kleinhen drained her final three-pointer with 2:24 remaining in regulation, giving the Raptors their first lead of the game as the home team closed out the contest on a 12-4 run.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin