Looking back at fall season

By MICHAEL LETENDRE

STAFF WRITER

BRISTOL – Well, the fall scholastic sports season has come and gone with the squads from Bristol making a little noise in the postseason.

And it came from nearly every sport.

For the first time in nearly 10 years, Bristol had three volleyball squads competing in the playoffs while the Bristol Central boys cross country team came the closest to a state title — taking the runner’s up trophy at the Class L event.

Here’s a quick look at the fall scholastic season in cross county and volleyball:

Cross Country – Boys: What more can be said about the season Bristol Central just had, the most successful campaign for the program since the squad won the 2010 championship?

Central took third place in the annual Central Connecticut Conference championship event while taking second in the Class L event from Wickham Park.

It took an extraordinary effort by Xavier at the Class L championships to topple the Rams, 26-80.

At the Class Ls, it was Pacifico Flores and Devin Flores finishing in 10th and 11th place, respectively, with times of 16:48.

Nate Deangelo (15th, 16:55), Jose Ramirez (21st, 17:03), Mark Petrosky (23rd, 17:18), Ian Kreciglowa (73rd, 18:37), and Ryan Grochowski (121st, 19:50) all ran well for the Rams.

At every cross country event this year, it seemed like a different runner took the lead.

In the end, it was a great run by an always outstanding program.

St. Paul Catholic was one of the surprise squads in all the Naugatuck Valley League — nearly winning 10 meets and giving all the other teams of the NVL a legitimate run for their money.

The Falcons were a factor in both the NVL championship race and the Class S title pictures.

In the Class S championship, four St. Paul Catholic runners placed in the top-59 as the outfit took sixth place overall.

Aiden Reilly was outstanding as he placed 17th with a time of 18:26 while teammate Tucker Raymond finished in 18:58 for 28th place overall.

Jordan (37th, 19:13) and Jeremy Rinaldi (59th, 19:40) were both in the top 60 while Joseph Gaffney (77th, 20:10), and Michael Ferraro (78th, 20:10) made strides for the Falcons.

Bristol Eastern gained invaluable experience this season and the future is bright for the program.

The squad had excellent leadership this past season as Ben Wadowski (48th place in the Class L championship, 18:07 finish) led the charge for the Lancers while also recently named a BEHS 2019 Scholar Athlete.

Also finishing strong for the Lancers at the Class L event were Parker Dayton (63rd, 18:28), Gabriel Bartolome (75th, 18:39), Nick Provenzano (82nd, 18:52), and Sean Sullivan (86th, 19:01).

The Lancers placed 13th overall at the Class L showcase.

Cross County – Girls: The Bristol Central squad had an excellent regular season but Bristol Eastern saved its best for the postseason.

In the Class MM classic from Wickham Park in Manchester, the Lancers — who fell to the Rams in regular season action — finished one spot in front of Central at the league championships.

Eastern placed 11th while Central nabbed 12th place.

Four runners grabbed spots among the top-75, which included an amazing finish by talented sophomore Avery Braccia.

Braccia earned 15th place in a time of 20:56 while teammate Fiona Gallagher took 51st in 22:27.

Finishing third for the Lancers was Kelsie St. Germain in 22:47- placing 60th overall.

Paige McLaughlin (74th, 23:28) transitioned from volleyball to cross country quite well and was one of coach Kyle Fuller’s top three runners throughout the campaign and was also named a BEHS 2019 Scholar Athlete.

For Bristol Central, Natalie Dube is going to be a fixture for the Rams for years to come and at the Class MM championship tilt, Dube placed 37th overall — first on the squad — in a time of 21:49.

Central’s Alex Sirko (65th, 23:05), Natalia Popielarz (60th, 23:36), and Kiara Suazo (80th, 23:39) all made big finishes for the school on the hill.

Isabella Crandall, Marisa Heller, and Katherine Funk all crossed the finish line with good times for Central.

And the unit from St. Paul Catholic didn’t disappoint either.

The Falcons had a strong regular season and then ran a spirited Class S race with Kailyn Bielecki leading the charge.

She placed 10th overall in a time of 21:13 as St. Paul Catholic placed 11th at the final team race of the campaign.

Katherine Mazzarelli (37th, 23:40), Catherine Wootton (49th, 24:09), Jessica Persechino (79th, 26:08), Abigayle Poirot (90th, 26:47), Sammi Bray (92nd, 27:06), and Lauren Ferguson (95th, 27:19) gave it their all for the Falcons.

Volleyball: The St. Paul volleyball squad saw unparalleled success in 2018, putting together its best campaign since the mid-2000s.

The regular season saw the team finish at 15-4, was one of the top seeds in the NVL Tournament and won a state tournament game — toppling University 25-12, 25-11, and 25-12 to take its first Class S playoff game in years.

The Falcons were the fifth seed in the postseason tournament.

It was the team’s deepest run in the Class S tournament since 2004 when then coach Jen Manzo ran the Falcons into the semifinal round — falling in the end to eventual state champion Coventry.

It was the first playoff for the Falcons since the 2009 campaign.

Contributors to that outstanding volleyball team included Alexis Carabetta, Rebecca Nerbonne, Kelsi Blatchley, Morgan Kolb, and Olivia Genovese.

Speaking at the semifinals, there was Bristol Eastern again, back in the final four with a group of five seniors strong.

The grouping of Alex DiMattia, Bella Nozzolillo, Amber Blais, Olivia Beaudoin, and Aliana Rivoira led the charge into the state tournament play. And in Class L, there wasn’t one easy tournament game to be had —  even as the No. 4 seed.

And the signature win in the playoffs was a 3-1, second round triumph over No. 13 Farmington in an instant classic (25-14, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22), which included a huge comeback and a major win over a foe that seemed to get the best of the Lancers over the years.

Only RHAM (twice), Woodstock Academy, and Southington were able to hang a loss over the Lancers in 2018.

The Lancers were 19-4 overall.

And then on the flip side, Bristol Central also had a banner campaign behind the outstanding play of Peyton Greger (106 kills during regular season play), Emily Ericson (113 kills), Kathryn Ross (157 kills), and setter Ashleigh Clark (342 assists) for a team that will mostly return for the 2019 campaign.

All those contributors will attempt to defeat Bristol Eastern for the first time since 1994.

The squad also only lost to the best programs in the state during this past fall which included setbacks to Bristol Eastern and Seymour.

The Rams went 16-3 in the regular season, were 1-1 in CCC Tournament action, and was ranked No. 9 in a crowded Class L fray.

The program defeated No. 24 Sacred Heart Academy in straight sets before dropping a 3-0 decision to No. 8 East Lyme to end 2018 with a ledger of 18-5.

Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.

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