Rocky Hill's Ryan Robb (left) was named MVP and Cromwell's Nick Polizonis (right) was named the tournament's Most Valuable Hitter as RCP won another baseball state title in 2020
1. RCP Crowned Boys of Summer
RCP (Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland) U19 team won another summer league championship on August 9. Normally referred to at American Legion Baseball, CT Elite Baseball Association was established to allow Legion teams an opportunity to compete this summer, and RCP defeated Northern Connecticut 3-2 in the title game. Nick Polizonis (Cromwell) was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Hitter, providing three hits including a two-run double, and season MVP Ryan Robb (Rocky Hill) had two hits, driving in the other run in the championship victory. Tyler Baldwin (Cromwell) earned the win on the mound, while Justin Fraleigh (Rocky Hill) pitched the final out to pick up the save. It wasn’t a normal summer league season, but the local boys of summer brought home the league trophy for the third time since 2015.
2. Shabazz Strikes Twice
Middletown’s Kalil Shabazz took home first place in the 126-lbs division at the Class L state championships at Bristol Central High School on February 22 and then won the State Championship in the Open Finals at the Floyd Athletic Center on February 29. Shabazz entered the class finals as the #1 seed and proved with worthiness, defeating four opponents including Pomperaug’s Michael Carpenter in the title match. At the State Open, Shabazz solidified himself as the best overall in his weight class, defeating Class LL champion Tyler Johnson of Danbury in the championship match. No matter the opponent, Shabazz shellacked them all.
3. Eagles Soccer Undefeated, On and Off the Field
Wethersfield boys’ soccer defeated Newington 4-2 to win the CCC Region D championship on November 10, finishing with a record of 11-0-1. Anis Kurkic scored two goals and Will McCarter had two assists for the Eagles, who led from start to finish. Sam Johnson and Charlie Hayes scored the other two goals. The conference title was the cherry on top of a season which also displayed the selflessness of the Eagles during a road game at Bulkeley on October 8. Because of a lack of players, Bulkeley would have been forced to forfeit but Wethersfield’s captains decided to play for the opposing team. The captains carried Bulkeley to a scrimmage victory as RJ Darrell scored three goals and Kurkic added two in a 7-4 win. Darrell recalled the Bulkeley players saying they were happy to play in a competitive game for the first time all year. The scrimmage was a true act of sportsmanship.
4. Newington Edges Wethersfield on PKs – Wins Conference
Newington girls’ soccer defeated a previously unbeaten Wethersfield on penalty kicks after the team remained deadlocked 0-0 after regulation and overtime. The Indians made all five of their PKs and goalie Bri Norton came up with a game-ending save during Wethersfield PK attempts. The Eagles, who entered the game 11-0-1, had defeated the Indians in both regular season meetings but Newington rose to the occasion with the conference championship statement win on November 12.
5. Rocky Hill’s Glover Triumphant on Senior Night
Rocky Hill senior wrestler Jordan Glover, who has Down Syndrome, with a little help from Enfield’s Noah Bonini created an unforgettable moment in 2020. With both teams cheering on, Glover took down and pinned Bonini during Rocky Hill’s Senior Night on February 6, in what could only be described as both an awesome achievement for Glover and a wonderful act of sportsmanship on the part of Bonini. The world could certainly use more moments like this.
6. Frazier’s Fantastic Farewell Tour
Ashanti Frazier had unforgettable back-to-back months to start 2020. The Newington basketball star made last-second, game-winner shots in victories over Bristol Eastern (Jan 3) and Windsor (Jan 10), and then scored her 1,000-career point in a win over East Catholic on January 16. By the time the regular season was over, Frazier and Newington were 17-3 and the #3 seed in the tournament. Following blowout victories in the first two rounds of the tourney, the season was cancelled because of COVID-19 and Frazier farewell tour abruptly ended. The 2020 basketball season will forever remain unfinished but Frazier’s legacy at NHS will also last forever.
7. Gwynn Sets WHS Scoring Mark
Nicole Gwynn broke the all-time scoring mark in the history of the Wethersfield girls basketball program, scoring her 1,459th point in a win over Newington on February 18. Gwynn set the mark on a free throw in the fourth quarter, surpassing the previous mark held by 2010-graduate Abigail Corning. Gwynn would go on to lead the Eagles into the quarterfinals of the state tourney before the season was cut short due to COVID-concerns. Gwynn’s scoring mark will be hard to top and the mark she left on the program is indelible.
8. Piecewicz Named Defenseman of the Year
Wethersfield’s Trevor Piecewicz was named the Division II Defenseman of the Year and earned All-State in March as a member of the WMPR hockey team. His achievement was even more impressive considering he had spent the previous two seasons playing on the offensive end, leading the team in combined points during that time span. Piecewicz, who also scored his 100th career point in 2020, helped the Eagles captured their first conference title and the team was prepping for a state championship run prior to the COVID-19 cancellation.
9. Stergos Snags Defenseman of the Year
Cromwell’s Justin Stergos was a monster on both ends of the ice for the Newington Co-Op hockey team and his work on the defensive end earned him the Division III Defenseman of the Year award in early March. Stergos also finished second on the team in points, tallying a goal or assist in 11 games for and Indians team that finished with a league-high 17 regular season wins. The Cromwell-grad is currently playing junior hockey for the New Hampshire Avalanche.
10. Football Community Unites
Football came under attack this fall and was deemed high-risk/forbidden, but the football community fought back. Players, coaches, parents, and supporters gather on September 5 and again on September 9 to protest the decision by the CIAC and state’s Department of Health to cancel the contact sport due to the COVID-19 concerns. The gathering on Sept 5 saw hundreds protesting outside the CIAC headquarters in Cheshire and the gathering on Sept 9 had over 1,000 supporters lining the steps of the State Capitol in Hartford, with signs and chants of “Let Us Play”. Wethersfield was one of the most well-represented teams at the protest, with over 40 participants in attendance. Ultimately, 11-on-11 football was benched in the fall but not without a fight from the football community who formed a united front.
11. Stolstajner Wins POY, Again!
Cromwell basketball star Vanessa Stolstajner won her second straight Shoreline Conference Player of the Year award in March. Stolstajner, who helped lead the Panthers to a state championship in 2019, was again phenomenal in 2020, scoring 17 points and hauling down five rebounds per game. She was coming off a 24-point, seven-rebound, five-assist performance in a state tournament win prior to the COVID-cancellation. Stolstajner graduated with back-to-back Conference POY awards and finished both her junior and senior seasons on a winning note.
12. WHS Swimming Record-Breaking Fall
Wethersfield girls swimming broke seven pool records and two varsity records during an undefeated season, which wrapped up with victory over rival Hall on November 4. The Eagles broke records in the 100 Free (Alanna DePinto), 200 Free (DePinto), 100 Fly (Julia Pitchell), 200 Medley (DePinto, Pitchell, Haley Krawczyk, Olivia Thompson), 200 Free Relay (DePinto, Thompson, Krawczyk, Sabrina Schuster), and twice broke the 400 Free Relay (DePinto, Pitchell, Thompson, Schuster). Needless to say, 2020 was a banner year in more ways than one for the 12x conference champs.
13. Newington Outlast Wethersfield on the Court
Newington boys’ basketball defeated Wethersfield 65-61 in overtime to secure a spot in the state tournament. Jayden Andujar scored a game-high 20 points and Alexander Ford added 18 more as the Indians won a game that featured 14 lead changes. Wethersfield’s Luke Latina sent the game into overtime with a bank shot as time expired in regulation before Newington seized the momentum in the extra session by making eight of ten free throws to secure the victory. It was an amazing turnaround for Newington, who starting the season 2-9 before winning six games down the stretch, including four of five to close out the regular season.
14. Community Remembers Costello
2014 WHS graduate and former professional baseball player Ryan Costello was remembered at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain on October 12, raising money for scholarships and awareness for Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Costello passed away on November 18, 2019 from a rare heat disease and his parents, Tammy and Chris Costello, along with Wethersfield baseball coach Mark Bagdasarian founded the RC13 Foundation in his honor. The proceeds from the golf benefit went towards the foundation and the gathering allowed his family, friends, teammates, and community to celebrate Ryan’s life.
15. Klementon’s First Half High-Five
Emma Klementon erupted for five goals, all in the first half, as Wethersfield girls’ soccer defeated Middletown 8-0 on October 6. Klementon was a goal-scoring machine for an Eagles team that breezed through an undefeated regular season, outscoring their opponents 43-4. It was an extra special season for the Klementon family, as Emma and her twin sister Annie each played major roles during a senior season to remember.
16. Stockman Wins One More for Good Measure
Rocky Hill’s Elizabeth Stockman has a room full of state championship trophies and on February 15 she added more hardware to her collection. The senior won the 1600M during the Class M finals at the Floyd Athletic Center in New Haven, besting second-place finisher Kathryn Rodriguez of Wolcott by over six seconds. Stockman’s running career at RHHS is something to marvel at.
17. Nock Tops Shot
Wethersfield Clarissa Nock won a state championship in the Shot Put during the Class L Indoor Track & Field finals at the Floyd Athletic Center on February 15. Nock soundly defeated runner-up Sarah Ovesny of Shelton (37-08.25 – 36-06.25), ensuring her the title. She was a favorite to duplicate the feat in the Outdoor Track & Field finals, which were never held after the spring sports season was canceled.
18. Kelly Nets 1,000
Playing in the opening round of the state tournament, Wethersfield’s Alice Kelly made a layup in the third quarter to reach her 1,000th career point. Kelly, who did a little of everything for the Eagles, finished with 12 point on the night as Wethersfield eliminated Farmington from the tourney. Kelly and her team would win one more tournament game, reaching the quarterfinals, before the season was cut short by COVID-19.
19. Pope Hits Milestone
Middletown’s Donte Pope scored his 1,000th career point against New Britain on February 3. Pope transferred to Middletown as a junior and became an instant scoring threat for a Blue Dragon’s team that won 15 games in 2020 and was set to make a tourney run before the COVID cancellation.
20. Splendid Summer for RHLL
Rocky Hill Little League produced three District 7 titles this summer. The 16U baseball team won the District title and then advanced to the state championship game, defeating Meriden 5-1 to reach the state title game. The 12U baseball team swept West Hartford in a best-of-three series, outscoring West Hartford 16-5 in the two wins. The 12U softball team swept Cromwell is a best-of-five series, winning the series clinching game-three 4-2 to win District. The trifecta of titles was a glimpse into the bright future that awaits the baseball and softball programs at Rocky Hill High School.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin