• Centaur Nation

  • Woodstock Academy football

    Posted by Marc Allard on 12/8/2019

    The Woodstock Academy named its 2020 football captains recently

     

    Centaurs name 2020 football captains

    The Woodstock Academy named its 2020 football captains on Saturday. They will be (from l to r) Ethan Davis, Gavin Savoie, Trey Ayotte, and Jacob Hernandez

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  • Powder Puff football

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 12/1/2019

    Seniors win annual Powder Puff Football game

     

    Members of the senior class (right in red) and junior class participated in the annual Powder Puff football game Tuesday

     Members of The Woodstock Academy senior class girls (in red on the right) and junior class girls (in blue) plus the boys who served as coaches for both teams celebrate after Tuesday's annual Powder Puff football game at the Bentley Athletic Complex. (Photo by Holly Grube/Woodstock Academy)

     

    Linda St. Laurent carries the football for the Seniors in the Powder Puff football game Tuesday

     

    The Seniors won, 14-0, on touchdowns by Linda St. Laurent (above, carrying the football) and Kayla Gaudreau, who scored on the last play of the game, and a safety. (Photo by Holly Grube/Woodstock Academy)

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  • Woodstock Academy Athletics

    Posted by Marc Allard on 11/26/2019

    Woodstock Academy All-State and All-ECC award winners were honored on Monday ECC Scholar-Athlete Award winners were honored on Monday night

       All-State and All-Eastern Connecticut All-Stars (above) and Eastern Connecticut Conference Scholar-Athlete award recipients (below) were among those honored at the annual Woodstock Academy Fall Sports Awards Night on Monday at Bates Auditorium. (Photos courtest of Holly Grube).

     

    Fall Sports Awards Night held at Woodstock Academy on Monday

     

    The Woodstock Academy completed its fall athletic season Monday with its Fall Sports Awards Night at the Bates Auditorium on North Campus.

    Numerous athletes were recognized for their contributions to the school on the athletic fields and in the gym.

    The fall season, overall, was pretty exciting for Woodstock Academy.

    The football team posted its best-ever varsity record of 7-3 and was in the hunt for an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II regular season title up until the next-to-last week of the regular season.

    The volleyball team won the ECC Division I regular season championship and advanced to the Class L state tournament semifinals.

    The girls soccer team won its first Class L state tournament match since 2013.

    Junior Ethan Aspiras won the ECC boys cross-country championship meet and later qualified for the boys State Open championship. Sophomore Linsey Arends (2nd in the ECC championship) and junior Stella DiPippo (4th) also qualified for the girls State Open championship in cross-country and all three were Class MM All-State selections.

    Those who were recognized at the Fall Sports Awards night included:

     

    All-State, ECC All-Star and Honorable Mention Award recipients:

    Class MM All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star boys cross-country – Ethan Aspiras

    Class MM All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star girls cross-country – Linsey Arends

    Class MM All-State and ECC 1st team All-Star girls cross-country – Stella DiPippo

    Class L 1st team All-State and ECC 1st team Volleyball All-Star – Paula Hernandez

    Class M 2nd team All-State and ECC 1st team Field Hockey All-Star – Avery Jones

    Class M 2nd team All-State and ECC Honorable Mention: Eliza Dutson

    ECC 1st team Football All-Star – Luis Miranda

    ECC 1st team Football All-Star – Travis White

    ECC 1st team Football All-Star – Aidan Morin

    ECC 1st team Football All-Star – Nick Bedard

    ECC 1st team Volleyball All-Star – Marissa Mayhew

    ECC 1st team Girls Soccer All-Star – Lucy McDermott

    ECC 1st team Girls Soccer All-Star – Linda St. Laurent

    ECC Football Honorable Mention – Ethan Davis

    ECC Girls Soccer Honorable Mention – Brynn Kusnarowis

    ECC Boys Soccer Honorable Mention – Sean Rearden

    ECC Field Hockey Honorable Mention – Rachel Canedy

    ECC Girls Cross-Country Honorable Mention – Iris Bazinet

    ECC Girls Cross-Country Honorable Mention – Megan Gohn

     

    ECC Sportsmanship Award recipients:

    Field Hockey – Danielle Chaput

    Boys Soccer – Grayson Walley

    Girls Soccer – Sydney Couture

    Volleyball – Diana Gonzalez

    Football – Gavin Lanning

    Boys Cross-Country – Hamilton Barnes

    Girls Cross-Country – Leah Castle

     

    ECC Scholar-Athlete Award recipients:

    Field Hockey – Emma Durand

    Boys soccer – Nathan Craig

    Girls Soccer – Adeline Smith

    Volleyball – Paula Hernandez

    Football – Luis Miranda

    Boys Cross-Country – Tristan Monahan

    Girls Cross-Country – Stella DiPippo

     

    Wall of Honor recipients:

    (These juniors will be pictured on photo plaques outside the Woodstock Academy Athletics office beginning next fall representing their individual teams)

    Boys Soccer – Huck Gelhaus

    Girls Soccer – Brynn Kusnarowis

    Unified Soccer – Abigail LeBlanc

    Football – Gavin Savoie

    Field Hockey – Alex Vaida

    Volleyball – Marissa Mayhew

    Cheerleading – Katelynn Niejadlik

    Girls Cross-Country – Stella DiPippo

    Boys Cross-Country – Ethan Aspiras

     

    Coach’s Awards

    (Given to the athletes who in the opinion of the team’s coaching staff demonstrated a hardworking, unselfish, positive and competitive attitude and is a “model” participant for others to follow)

    Boys Soccer Varsity – Doug Newton, Gabe Geyer

    Boys Soccer JV- Ian Hoffman

    Boys Freshman Soccer – Chance Graley

    Girls Soccer Varsity – Ciara MacKinnon, Gillian Price

    Girls Soccer JV – Maggie Hart

    Unified Soccer athlete – Dylan Wynkoop

    Unified Soccer partner – Sydney Schuler

    Varsity Football – Daniel Suitum, Luis Miranda

    Froshmore Football – Trevor Savoie

    Varsity Field Hockey – Megan Preston, Kaily LaChappelle

    JV Field Hockey – Ava Basak

    Varsity Volleyball – Katie Papp, Paige Audet

    JV Volleyball – Sara Cotillo

    Freshman Volleyball – Ellie Nunes

    Fall Varsity Cheerleading – Alexis Mercado, Katelynn Niejadlik

    Girls Varsity Cross-Country – Megan Gohn, Linsey Arends

    Girls JV Cross-Country – Madison Bates

    Boys Varsity Cross-Country – Thomas Walden, Ethan Aspiras

    Boys JV Cross-Country – John Peabody

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  • National Letter of Intent signing

    Posted by Marc Allard on 11/19/2019

     

    Cairo McCrory signs his NLI as his family watches

    Cairo McCrory (lower middle) signed his National Letter of Intent to play basketball for the University of Massachusetts on Monday at The Woodstock Academy. Also in the photo (bottom row, l to r) grandmother Mary McCrory, Cairo McCrory, Foye Smith. (back row, l to r) State Senator Douglas McCrory, aunt Gina McCrory and grandfather Bill Smith. (Photo courtesy of Joel Tretheway/Woodstock Academy).

     

     NLI Signing Day as big for parents as it is for student-athlete

     

    It’s one thing for the student-athlete to sign his name to a National Letter of Intent.

    “Best moment on my life so far,” Woodstock Academy Gold prep basketball player Cairo McCrory said after he put his name on the dotted line to attend and play for the University of Massachusetts Monday. “All these years of working hard finally paid off. It’s a big relief. It’s finally official. No more waiting to sign, the moment is finally here.”

    It’s another thing entirely for the parents of that student-athlete.

    Connecticut State Senator Douglas McCrory was beaming with pride at the Bracken Memorial Library on the campus of The Woodstock Academy where the signing ceremony for Cairo McCrory and three of his Centaur teammates was held.

    It was the end of a long journey.

    “This has been a long time coming,” Doug McCrory said. “Ever since he was born, I, of course, wanted him to be like me and play basketball when he grew up.”

    The elder McCrory had played basketball for the University of Hartford in his younger years and to see his hopes and dreams for his son come to fruition was satisfying for him.

    To see his son choose a college not all that far from his Hartford home also made his parents a little happier.

    “I love my community. I don’t want to leave it that much. It’s only a 45-minute drive so my parents and family can come up and watch games,” Cairo McCrory said.

    That wasn’t always the plan.

    Cairo McCrory had hopes of going to a college in a little warmer climate in New England.

    “When he was young, he was always saying that he wanted to go somewhere that was hot,” Douglas McCrory said. “I’ve been through all that. I wanted him to go to a place where he could enjoy himself, get a good education and play. I couldn’t ask for a better situation than him being just about an hour away.”

    There was a lure at UMass for the 6-foot-5 guard.

    Four former members of the Woodstock Academy Gold prep team, Tre Mitchell, Preston Santos, T.J. Weeks and Dibaji Walker, who transferred in from Cleveland State, all play for the Minutemen. Former Woodstock Academy prep coach Tony Bergeron is now an assistant coach at the school.

    “I’m cool with the whole team. It’s like a brotherhood as you can see this year compared to last year so it’s a fun place to go,” McCrory said. “I love the style they play and that I will have the opportunity to come in and play right away.”

    And receive a free education at the same time.

    “This is a lottery ticket,” Doug McCrory said. “At the end of the day, he has a $200,000 opportunity here. It’s up to him to follow through and do what he’s supposed to do, do what we taught him all his life. Go up there, do the work academically and work his behind off on the court. I’m happy.”

    So is Cairo’s mom, Hartford probate judge Foye Smith, who said Cairo is responsible for much of his own success.

    “I’m over the moon,” Smith said. “There isn’t a kid I know that worked harder than him. He has been all over the country. Never missed a practice, never missed a game. If he was sick, he would go, he has been dedicated. This is just the beginning, another step, it’s not the end. I’m proud and excited for him. He did this. I was just the ride and the food.”

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  • Woodstock Academy Gymnastics

    Posted by Marc Allard on 11/18/2019

    Former Woodstock Academy gymnastics coach Robin Deary-Fillmore will be inducted into the CHSCA Hall of Fame Thurs.

     

    Former Woodstock Academy gymnastics coach Robin Deary-Fillmore (left) was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Thursday in Southington. Current Woodstock Academy coach and Deary-Fillmore's daughter, Kasey Tocchio, is on the right.

     

    Former Woodstock Academy gymnastics coach inducted into CHSCA Hall of Fame

     

    Former Woodstock Academy and Killingly High gymnastics coach Robin Deary-Fillmore was honored Thursday as one of the newest members of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

    Deary-Fillmore was inducted at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.

    “I thought it was pretty cool,” Deary-Fillmore said when she was informed that she would be inducted this year. “My brother Allen thought it was pretty cool, too, because he has been inducted into a Hall of Fame (at Northeastern University).”

    “It’s awesome and definitely well-deserved,” said current Woodstock Academy coach and Deary-Fillmore’s daughter, Kasey Tocchio. “We’re all really excited for her. She should be recognized for everything she has done.”

    Deary-Fillmore will be recognized along with James N. Brophy (posthumously, Bulkeley and Newington swimming); Edmund Butler (Masuk track and field); Nicholas Chaconis (Portland girls basketball); Jackie Ann DiNardo (Danbury girls basketball); Bill Hunt (Bethel baseball); Sandi Piantek (Maloney girls volleyball); Maribeth Sarnacki (Cromwell cheerleading) and Robert Trifone (Brien McMahon and Darien football).

    A Putnam native, Deary-Fillmore coached the Centaurs from the inception of the program as a team-of-one in the early 90’s.

    Robin Cohen Moore was the first Academy athlete to participate in the sport for Deary-Fillmore.

    “She came to me and said that she wanted to do high school (gymnastics) and that’s how I approached the Academy with that. She did for two or three years as a team-of-one and then I had a bunch of kids from The Academy who asked if they could compete as a team,” Deary-Fillmore said.

    Deary-Fillmore started the Killingly program in 1987 and was still coaching the Red Hawks (then Redgals) at the time.

    She asked if the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference would allow her to coach both schools.

    The CIAC agreed and it only grew from there.

    “I lucked out. I was in a very rare situation. At one point, I had six high schools all competing for me which is cool, but this is such a totally different sport. We could do it, the CIAC allowed it and I think it was the best thing they ever did,” Deary-Fillmore said.

    The reason why she feels that way was it opened the door for more competition at the high school level and a sport, where athletes were generally tucked away in tiny gyms with little recognition, suddenly became much more mainstream. High school athletes could now compete for state titles both as a team and individuals, New England championships and even national titles.

    In addition to coaching multiple teams, gymnastics coaches can also work with athletes year-round something that is not accorded to high school coaches such as football, soccer or baseball, on a general basis.

    “I don’t understand why that is not allowed,” Deary-Fillmore said of the other sports coaches not being able to work with athletes throughout the year. “I don’t get it. Somebody having an advantage over someone else because someone trains harder than someone else. I thought that was the whole idea. I am in a different situation in that most of the higher level gymnasts train year-round anyhow. A lot of the 3-sport athletes don’t because they are involved in multiple sports.”

    It took a while, but the Centaurs eventually began to rival and then overtook the Killingly program in the gym.

    Killingly won its first state championship under Deary-Fillmore’s guidance in 1990 and then again in 2004,’05 and ’07.

    The Centaurs began to come into their own shortly after the Killingly ’07 title.

    It was a rise that Deary-Fillmore expected.

    “I did because everything goes in cycles. I knew the talent that was coming there. I was lucky, I had that advantage of having an idea of who was coming up,” Deary-Fillmore said.

    The Centaurs won their first Eastern Connecticut Conference championship in 2010.

    They haven’t lost since.

    The first state championship came in 2011.

    The Centaurs have won a state title every year since.

    Both Woodstock Academy and Killingly won a state championship in 2012. The Red Hawks claimed the Class S title, the Centaurs the Class M championship.

    “That was the most amazing thing ever,” Deary-Fillmore said.

    She is still the only coach to have won two state titles in the matter of hours. It remains the highlight of Deary-Fillmore’s high school coaching career.

    The Centaurs went on to win four State Open titles in Deary-Fillmore’s tenure from 2012-15 and a New England championship in 2012.

    Just as important, Deary-Fillmore helped Centaurs alums Shaila Segal (Central Michigan), Courtney Osborne (Rhode Island College) and Bree Hussong - who started a gymnastics club at Northeastern University – compete at the next level.

    Deary-Fillmore retired as head coach following the 2014-15 season turning the reins of the programs over to her daughter and the Centaurs’ success has not slowed.

    “She did an amazing job with what she built and it has continued to grow because of her,” Tocchio said.

    Deary-Fillmore is still a volunteer assistant for both programs and the fun part is, she still gets to see many of her former athletes, some, like Hussong, even work for her at Deary’s Gymnastics.

    “They all come back, that’s the best part,” Deary-Fillmore said. “They all come back to visit or they all come back with their kids. Their kids are competing for their Moms now. When I go back and see all the stuff (that her teams and athletes accomplished), it makes me really happy.”

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  • Alpine Skiing

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/26/2019

    Ski team may be coming to Woodstock Academy

    The Woodstock Academy is looking into starting an Alpine Skiing team this winter.

    Head of School Chris Sandford said the school was approached by several parents last year who had interest in such a program.

    The school held an informational meeting recently which was attended by about 30 to 40 students and parents.

    Among those interested were a number of boarding students.

    Sandford said the next step is to ascertain the specific costs of such a program.

    The team is not included in the school’s athletic budget this winter.

    “We have no plans to add it (to the budget), but to compete in this league, (the athletes) need to wear our uniform and to do that, we have to sponsor it. If the parents raise the money or donate the money for their particular students to participate, it is something we would endorse wholeheartedly,” Sandford said. “Who knows what the future holds? In three or four years, it could become part of our program but it’s not in any plans at this time.”

    The new team would be part of the Connecticut Interscholastic Ski League which competes at Mt. Southington.

    The program, like girls ice hockey, would be an independent program since the sport is not sponsored by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

    The addition of an Alpine Ski team will just bolster the number of athletic programs already offered at Woodstock Academy which exceeds 50 currently.

    “If there are 20 or 30 students who are not doing anything over the winter and we can do something to get them engaged – we’re going to do it,” Sandford said. “I’m a big believer in getting to ‘Yes.’ No one is going to get a perfect answer. It may not look like you want it to, but we will get to ‘Yes’ and provide the opportunity for the students. We’re excited about that.”

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  • Prep Basketball

    Posted by Marc Allard. Sports Information Director on 9/24/2019

     

    Prep Basketball Opens with Moonlight Madness on Monday

     

    The 2019-20 version of the Woodstock Academy post-graduate basketball program will be introduced to the community and the school at 7 p.m. Monday at the Alumni Fieldhouse on the North campus.

    “The players are extremely excited,” first-year Woodstock Academy head coach Jacque Rivera said. “I think it’s always fun. It’s my first year and the guys first year but they have heard about it from the past. There’s so much excitement that surrounds Moonlight Madness and just the season. It’s a great time.”

    The event includes the introduction of the team, an intra-squad scrimmage and a dunk contest as well as a few other surprises. It will be broadcast live on woodstockacademy.org/live.

    “It’s a really fun group. We can play a lot of different ways. Historically, Woodstock Academy has been known for its pressure defense. I think we can add to that pressure by having success, fullcourt, three-quarter court and halfcourt, offensively as well as defensively. I think we have a lot of length and really tough kids who are resilient not only on the playing surface but in the classroom,” Rivera said.

    Of the 29 players on the team, 11 are taking advanced placement classes, two recently went on a visit to Dartmouth College.

    “You should see their involvement in the community. They’re attending residential life events (at the school), staying for extra help in the classroom. It’s a really unique group. Let’s hope that it translates to the court,” Rivera said.

    Over 75 college coaches have already visited the campus to check out the new edition of the Centaurs.

    One player, Cairo McCroy from Hartford has committed to play for UMass next year but Rivera said a “bunch of guys” have offers and may make their decision in the next couple of weeks.

    Ronnie Degray is the only holdover from last year’s team. Chase Anderson is a homegrown product, having graduated from Woodstock Academy in the spring.

    The Centaurs Gold team finished 38-2 last season and made it as far as the National Prep Championship Tournament quarterfinals.

    The Blue team finished with a 30-8 record and won the Power 5 Conference AA tournament championship.

     

     

         2019-20 Woodstock Academy prep basketball roster

     

    No.    Name                       Pos.       Height         Hometown

    0        Hakan West                 G         5-10           Boston

    1        Dyondre Dominguez  W/F           6-8          Providence

    3        Joseph Moon              G             6-2          Detroit

    4         Noel Scott               G/W           6-3           Los Angeles

    5         Trevor Green           G/W           6-3           Albany, N.Y.

    10       Jordan Mitchell         W/F            6-8           Columbus, OH

    11        Jaylin Palmer             G              6-1           Hartford

    12        Montreal Pena          W/F          6-10         Fort Worth, TX

    13        Vondre Chase          W/F            6-5          Boston

    14        Eshete Calvo             G              6-2          Madrid, Spain

    15        David Jones             W/F            6-7       Sacramento, CA.

    20        Lawrence Foerman    F/C             6-9     Kingston, Jamaica

    21        Joshua Davis             G              6-2      Dallas, TX.

    22        Quinton McElroy       G               6-2 Powder Springs, GA.

    23        Michael Eurquhart      F              6-5         Pittsfield, MA.

    24        Darryl MacKey         G/W            6-0       Alexandria, VA.

    30        Cairo McCroy           G/W           6-5          Hartford

    31        Walter Defritas         W              6-4       Brooklyn, N.Y.

    32        Benjamin Fort          W               6-5      Columbus, OH.

    33        Elijah Blackman        W               6-3      Queens, N.Y.

    35        Chase Anderson       W              6-3       Woodstock

    40        Jamon Kemp          G/W             6-5       Seattle, WA.

    41        Amani Gottlieb         G                6-0      Arlington, MA.

    42        Nashon Battle        G/W              6-3        New Jersey

    44        Paul Hosey             F/C               6-9        Atlanta, GA.

    45        Michael Jefferson    W/F              6-6         Waco, TX.

    51        Chad Venning         F/C              6-10      Brooklyn, N.Y.

    52        Greyvon Goodman   G                5-10        Bahamas

    55        Ronnie Degray       W/F               6-7         Parker, CO.

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  • Run for Lilly

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 9/13/2019

    Jeffrey Lee before (left) and after losing 200 pounds

    Jeffrey Lee (left) before and (right) after losing 200 pounds over the past two years. He will be running a half-marathon in Boston in October to raise money for the Dana-Farber Clinic in honor of The Woodstock Academy freshman Lilly Sharpe.

     

    Newly svelte Lee running in honor of Woodstock Academy freshman

     

    Jeffrey Lee always was active.

    His size often got in the way.

    In the past two years, however, that has changed.

    The para-professional at The Woodstock Academy has dropped over 200 pounds in that time and has discovered a new passion.

    Running.

    “As I started losing weight and exercise became easier, running is almost like meditative to me. I go out, zone out and do so three or four times a week, and three or four miles at a time,” Lee said. “My wife said ever since I started losing weight, I’ve unleashed the beast inside and I’m running all the time now.”

    In the process, he has continued to push his limits.

    In March, he ran the 13.1- mile New Bedford half-marathon.

    “It was a shock that I did it,” Lee said.

    Confident in his ability, Lee will attempt another such feat in October and he’s doing it for a good cause.

    Lee will be participating in the Run for Dana-Farber Boston Athletic Association half-marathon on Oct. 13 in Boston for a good cause.

    He is part of the Dana-Farber team and will be helping to raise money for the Boston cancer clinic and the Jimmy Fund.

    There is a local connection as well.

    Woodstock Academy freshman Lilly Sharpe learned last year that she had leukemia. She has been treated at Dana-Farber and Lee actively raised money to offset the cost of Lilly’s treatment at Dana-Farber.

    According to Lee, Lilly is doing well but is still undergoing active treatment for the disease.

    “I asked Deb (Lilly’s mother) when I originally saw the info about the run and saw that it sponsored the clinic and I know they go up there two or three times a week, ‘Can I run in honor of Lilly?’ She was floored and said ‘Absolutely’ so I created the hashtag #Runforlilly,” Lee said.

    It was also the name of a running team Lee established for Lilly.

    He had to raise $750 to be part of the Dana-Farber team.

    The Boston native set his personal goal to be $1000.

    He has almost reached that, having been pledged $980 as of late this week.

    It has spurred him on to try and reach new heights, namely the first awarded tier of $1500.

    “I think we can get there,” Lee said. “I’m excited. I’ve been training. Hard. Doing like 20-25 miles a week and I’m ready.”

    Those who wish to donate to the effort can do so at: http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/Runforlilly.

    The course Lee will be running in October is of the up-and-back variety with the turnaround point being near the Dana-Farber clinic which Lee feels is only fitting.

    He said he averaged a nine-minute mile in New Bedford, finishing in two hours, 15 minutes.

    “That’s not blazing, but it’s not slow,” the 31-year-old said. “My goal is to get a two-hour, half-marathon. I think that is the benchmark. With my training so far, it will be close, but you, obviously, push a little harder on the day of the race.

    Of course, if he’s capable of running a half-marathon, is a full marathon that far behind?

    “My ultimate goal is to run the Boston Marathon, that’s an elite race. But maybe by this time next year, I will try to run a full marathon,” Lee said.

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  • Woodstock Academy girls cross-country

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 8/30/2019

    Lynsey Arends. Megan Gohn and Stella DiPippo getting ready for the girls cross-country season

     

    The Woodstock Academy girls cross-country runners (from left to right) Lynsey Arends, Megan Gohn and Stella DiPippo, getting ready for the season which begins on Saturday, Sept. 7.

     

    Centaurs looking strong heading into 2019 girls cross-country season

     

    High expectations.

    That’s what the Woodstock Academy girls cross-country team carries into the 2019 season which begins on Saturday, Sept. 7 with the 41st annual Haddad Windham Invitational meet at Windham High School.

    “Really, really badly,” senior captain Megan Gohn said when asked how much the Centaurs want to win their first Eastern Connecticut Conference championship. “Especially with this being my senior year, I want to get one before I graduate.”

    She is not the only one hankering for a title.

    Second-year coach Joe Banas is also thirsty for one.

    “It would be huge because it’s never happened. (The Academy) won back in the days of the (Quinebaug Valley Conference). I’ve won as a runner. I’ve been on a national championship, a New England championship, a state championship, and on a conference championship team. But as a coach, I’ve never had a title. At 62 years-old, I would love to be involved in that. To get a banner in the gym that says, ECC champions, (would be great),” Banas said.

    But not easy to accomplish.

    To try and make it happen, Banas is digging deep into his book of tricks.

    He wants to bring the team closer together as a unit and he’s doing so from the bottom up.

    Banas has 10 freshmen on the team and 10 runners with experience.

    Put the two together and see what happens.

    To encourage the growth of the younger runners, both mentally and physically, he has set up a mentor program with established runners working with the newcomers.

    “I can’t remember where I found it, but there was research that if you have a mentor-mentee program set up, the chances of a girl finishing all four years of running cross-country are over two-thirds. To me, that means seven out of the 10 girls here. If you don’t have it in place, the percentage drops to under 50 percent which is 4 of 10. That means I’m gaining three additional girls if I use this strategy. It’s a great way of bringing newbies into the fold,” Banas said. “They were making friends with the seniors even before they came on campus and I don’t want any girl left out. I want to create a little family atmosphere here.”

    “I really think that’s important,” Gohn said. “When I was a freshman we didn’t have that program. Coming from middle school to high school, even without sports, is pretty daunting and joining a big sport like this, it’s good to have a mentor to guide you through that first semester.”

    Gohn said it’s been effective so far, especially getting the youngsters adjusted to the new expectations of the program.

    “Middle school is very relaxed whereas the competitiveness in high school is ramped up a lot. We just work on them, trying to make them not feel as much pressure as they might and their (running) form is also a big thing,” she said.

    The new runners do have a couple of older teammates to model themselves after.

    Junior Stella DiPippo and sophomore Lynsey Arends led the Centaurs to a 12-2 overall record and a 4-2 mark in ECC Division I in 2018.

    Their only two regular-season losses came against East Lyme which was also the only team to best them in the ECC championship, 57-83.

    Arends finished third in the ECC championship race (20 minutes, 54 seconds) while DiPippo placed fifth in 21:07.

    Arends went on to finish 10th in the Class MM state championship race and qualified for the State Open.

    Both have improved.

    Banas encourages runners to do, at least, 200 miles of running over the summer beginning on June 1.

    Arends completed around 350 miles, third-best on the team.

    She has also grown about four inches in height and put on a little weight which makes her a little stronger.

    “I think her eyes were opened last year and she really wants it this year. I can see she’s coming into the season with the ‘I want to see what else I can do attitude’ and wants to turn it up a notch,” Banas said.

    DiPippo put on 475 miles over the offseason, the most of anyone on the boys or girls team.

    “Stella broke 20 (minutes) over the summer and Lynsey is determined not to let Stella beat her this season,” Gohn said with a laugh.

    That interior competition is not a negative.

    “The competitiveness within the team is healthy,” Gohn said. “It pushes us in practice a lot and in our meets, too. Sometimes, girls from other teams are not around us so having them 1-2 right next to each other pushes them to faster times.”

    The Centaurs did lose a couple of runners.

    Shannon D’Alessandro, who was one of the top five runners on the team, graduated, and Emily McClure opted to concentrate on another activity.

    The team, however, did get Julia Theriaque back.

    The senior had been on the sidelines since the indoor track season with a hip problem.

    “We shut her down for four months and she hasn’t run much over the summer but the last couple of days, she has been showing a lot of heart. You can’t teach being an athlete, she has that athletic talent already built in. She says she’s feeling good,” Banas said.

    Gohn and junior Iris Bazinet return and also filled top five spots for the Centaurs last year.

    Also back is another senior captain, Alexia Bourbeau, and sophomore Leah Castle.

    The freshmen may also be heard from.

    Banas likes what he has seen in newcomers Brooke Bergivin, Avery Mowrey, and Tessa Brown.

    “Bergivin went to Woodstock Middle School and ran over 400 miles this summer, but we had to shut her down for the moment because she has Achilles’ tendinitis. Avery is from Brooklyn and I believe was second in the Quinebaug Valley Junior Conference championship (last season). Brooklyn has been great to us the past two years with Stella and Lynsey and maybe this will be another great gift from Brooklyn Middle School,” Banas said.

    The ECC won’t be easy, however.

    “I understand that (East Lyme coach) Mike Flynn has all five of his girls back and I know that NFA has its No. 1 back from two years ago and a freshman. NFA got stronger and I really see Division I, because you never know what Fitch will have, being as tough as the MM in the states,” Banas said.

     

     

    Woodstock Academy girls cross-country schedule

    Saturday, Sept. 7:  at Haddad-Windham Invitational, TBA

    Tuesday, Sept. 10: at Killingly with Wheeler and Waterford (at Owen Bell Park), 3:45 p.m.

    Tuesday, Sept. 17: Ledyard, Norwich Free Academy at Woodstock Academy, 4 p.m.

    Saturday, Sept. 28: at Ocean State Invitational (at Goddard State Park, Warwick, R.I.), TBA

    Tuesday, Oct. 1:     at Fitch with Bacon Academy (at Haley Farm State Park), 4:30 p.m.

    Thursday, Oct. 10: at East Lyme (at Rocky Neck State Park), 4:30 p.m.

    Saturday, Oct. 12:  at Wickham Park Invitational (at Wickham Park, East Hartford), TBA

    Thursday, Oct. 17: at ECC championship (at Norwich Golf Course), TBA

    Saturday, Oct. 26:  at Class MM state championship (at Wickham Park, East Hartford), 1 p.m.

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  • Woodstock Academy boys cross-country

    Posted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 8/29/2019

     

    The Woodstock Academy boys cross-country tri-captains stretch prior to a practice

     

    The Woodstock Academy byos cross-country tri-captains (from left to right) Ethan Aspiras, Tristan Monahan and Evan Gianfriddo stretch prior to practice recently.

     

    Centaurs boys cross-country hoping for strong showing this season

     

    The Woodstock Academy girls cross-country team is looking to compete for an Eastern Connecticut Conference championship this season.

    The boys may not be in that same position quite yet.

    But can the potential success of the girls team rub off on the boys squad?

    “Absolutely,” said Centaurs boys cross-country coach Peter Lusa who enters his 11th year at the helm of the program. “Now, having taught (at Killingly High School) when Meghan Owen ran, it didn’t rub off so much on the boys there, in fact, it didn’t even rub off on her (girls) team. She was like a solo runner. There is some rub off, though. The girls pay attention to the directions and they tell the boys and the boys pay attention to them. It leads to a more cohesive team and I’m really pleased with how it’s working here. It’s something I’ve tried to do for several seasons, get the two teams working together.”

    Junior captain Ethan Aspiras agreed.

    “The girls’ success can help us because we’ve watched them progress. They are a completely different team than my first year here. Seeing that change and how a team can become successful can, hopefully, influence us to also progress and in years to come also be much better,” Aspiras said.

    The Centaurs did compete in Division 1 of the ECC last year for a first time in a while and found out how difficult it was.

    The Centaurs finished 6-8 overall, but were 0-6 in the Division.

    Lusa doesn’t expect it will be much easier this season.

    “(Coach) Chad Johnson is not at (Norwich Free Academy), we will see how that shakes out. I know they have another coach who has just moved over, but they have been slackening a little bit. The East Lyme boys (ECC and Class MM state champions last year) will be good again. I think it will be a good season. We will see how we do in our opener against Waterford, The Lancers are still looking pretty good,” Lusa said.

    That first meet with Waterford, Killingly and Wheeler will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Owen Bell Park in Dayville.

    Before that, the Centaurs will participate in the season-opening event for most, the 41st annual Haddad Windham Invitational at Windham High School, on Saturday, Sept. 7.

    “It’s a lot of tar. It’s also three miles and not 3.1 so the times are a bit faster. Some run in the freshmen or JV races so teams don’t run together as a pack. There may be kids separated by races who are not running with who they are used to running with, that can be both good and bad. It’s a good shake-out meet. No high expectations. If they run a little faster and times are a little better, that just gets it in their head that they can run these times and when they go to 3.1 miles with hills, and soft gravel, and they do it again, we can talk about doing better on harder courses,” Lusa said.

    The Centaurs did lose a little of their glue when Kenneth Birlin graduated.

    They also lost Noah Pepper, Holden Pimental, and Spencer Collins.

    But Lusa has been pleased with the turnout.

    “You always want more, but we have a good smattering of (athletes from) all the grades so it bodes well for the future,” Lusa said.

    The leader of the pack will be Aspiras.

    Some of that progress Aspiras talked about, he has begun to see happen.

    “I’ve been telling my friends, I can’t believe we’re juniors already. It seems like yesterday that I came to this track for the first cross-country practice,” Aspiras said. “The team has been getting better and better since I first came. It’s great to see that.”

    But progress in cross-country doesn’t come without work, especially in the summer.

    Aspiras said he put in 405 miles during the offseason.

    It wasn’t quite what he wanted to reach.

    His goal was 450.

    “But, it’s a lot better than last year,” Aspiras said with a smile.

    Aspiras finished 21st in the ECC championship race (18 minutes, 35 seconds) and 30th in the Class MM state meet (17:57) in 2018.

    “I am definitely looking forward to finish in the top-10 in the ECC and definitely want to qualify for the State Open championship,” Aspiras said.

    Lusa is confident that Aspiras can reach his goals this season.

    “I have to hold him back a little (early) and then let him go when it’s time,” Lusa said. “Coach (Josh) Welch and Coach (Joe) Banas are keyed in with that. I’m taking more of an administrative role, getting all that stuff done and they’re in charge of dialing in workouts.”

    Aspiras will be joined in the captain’s role by seniors Evan Gianfriddo and Tristan Monahan.

    “Tristan went away to running camp this year,” Lusa said. “He came back asking me all these questions like ‘Is this why you made us do all these workouts? The coach there was saying these are great’ It was awesome to have him ask, ‘What do I do if this happens?’ Other summers, it was just crickets and I was like ‘Tristan, are you out there?’

    Other key runners include junior Cody Currie and sophomore Hamilton Barnes.

    “(Hamilton) is the person right behind me right now. Hamilton has been following my times as a sophomore so that’s pretty good to see that happen, having a younger person following what you have been doing and, hopefully, maybe even do better than I did in past years,” Aspiras said.

    Other returning members of the team include senior Ben Green, junior John Peabody, and sophomores Hans Rhynhart and Noah Salsich.

    The newcomers include juniors Pablo Lopez, Avery Pajak, Thomas Walden, Aaron Allard, Maxwell Auker, Vince Bastura, Lance LaFemina, Adam Thompson and Jacob Vadeboncoeur.

    The cross-country teams also had a little advantage.

    They were allowed to practice a week earlier than the other programs such as soccer, field hockey and volleyball.

    Football was the only other team practicing prior to last Thursday.

    It was something that Lusa didn’t even realize.

    “I didn’t think of that,” he said with a laugh. “I asked someone and they said everyone had started already. It does feel nice. We didn’t have to battle for (space on the) buses.”

     

    2019 Woodstock Academy boys cross-country schedule

    Saturday, Sept. 7:  at Haddad-Windham Invitational, TBA

    Tuesday, Sept. 10: at Killingly with Wheeler and Waterford (at Owen Bell Park), 3:45 p.m.

    Tuesday, Sept. 17: Ledyard, Norwich Free Academy at Woodstock Academy, 4 p.m.

    Saturday, Sept. 28: at Ocean State Invitational (at Goddard State Park, Warwick, R.I.), TBA

    Tuesday, Oct. 1:     at Fitch with Bacon Academy (at Haley Farm State Park), 4:30 p.m.

    Saturday, Oct. 5:    at Auburn, MA. 2:30 p.m.

    Thursday, Oct. 10: at East Lyme (at Rocky Neck State Park), 4:30 p.m.

    Saturday, Oct. 12:  at Wickham Park Invitational (at Wickham Park, East Hartford), TBA

    Thursday, Oct. 17: at ECC championship (at Norwich Golf Course), TBA

    Saturday, Oct. 26:  at Class MM state championship (at Wickham Park, East Hartford), 1:35 p.m.

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