By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Spring has sprung and all the scholastic squads in town are back in action and back to work.
Girls lacrosse in the Mum City now has three teams as Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern have split while the boys programs are off and running as well – with St. Paul Catholic leading the charge on the boys front with a boatload of talent.
Central always seems to have an armada of athletes when it comes to outdoor track and expect some big things from both the programs at Eastern and St. Paul Catholic.
The Falcons’ girls tennis team never seems to disappoint and it should be interesting to see what golf squad from town shines through in the end.
Here’s a quick look at some of the sports programs in Bristol and what we should expect from each:
Golf – The Bristol Central golf program won 11 matches last season.
The Rams were ultra-competitive, losing to just the top programs of the CCC, including Middletown and Maloney.
Head coach Tim Barrette’s crew only carries a combined three juniors and seniors as the bulk of the team graduated, excect for its lone senior, Adam Ward.
Ward is one of the top golfers in the conference, medaling in more than a few matches last year but the CCC South champs will need others this season to step up.
Bristol Eastern is still rebuilding its program and will look to improve on a promising 2018 campaign.
St. Paul Catholic were the city series champs last season and were one of the featured programs of the NVL, going 16-2 overall.
Senior Ryne Salius is looking for a big senior campaign as is junior Michael Dolce, and senior Samuel Mazzarelli.
Salius carded some high 30s last year as did Dolce and the program should once again be on top of the standings throughout the season.
Mazzarelli will round out the top-three for the Falcons and look for the team to once again dominate the NVL.
The program finished in 13th place in a very good showing at the 2018 Division IV golf championships and will look for an even bigger finish this June.
On the girls front at St. Paul Catholic, the program continues to grow and improve by the year – its second as a varsity program.
The team will battle squads from all over the state this spring and has several home dates in mid-April from Westwoods Golf Course in Farmington.
Junior Natalie Millerick will be leading the program for a second straight season.
Overall, six juniors and one senior make up the team.
Boys and Girls Lacrosse – Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern are still playing catch-up in lacrosse with the other towns but each season brings improvement for the squads.
St. Paul Catholic’s programs have been strong and will continue to be so in 2019.
On the boys front, the Rams (0-16) did not win a match last season but the squad should be much improved this year.
Both public schools in the city are still growing and the program on the hill in Bristol will start seeing the fruits of its labors sooner rather than later.
Nearly thirty boys dot the roster for the Rams, headlined by sophomore Logan Holtz, junior Ian Staubley, and junior Gabe Farr.
The Lancers will look to build off a two-win campaign in 2018 and continues to build its roster.
Eastern went 2-16 overall with victories against Bristol Central and Wolcott – something to build upon this season.
Several good athletes will take the turf this season as AIC bound Noah Piazza will help lead the charge.
The Lancers have some athleticism and will simply have to keep building chemistry to start earning more match wins.
Jeff Taillon, Ethan Mathieu, and Sam Anderle add grit to the program and expect improvements throughout the season.
The Falcons were the No. 1 seed in the 2018, Class S state tournament bracket and lost just one regular season match.
St. Paul Catholic was an outstanding 15-1 during regular season play and went 18-2 overall.
The WCLC champs defeated Tolland (17-6) in first round state tournament action last year before ending it the season in the quarterfinals.
This team is senior strong with Kevin Ashworth, Connor Bogdanski, John Ivers, Ryan Prendergast, Garrett Gay, and Charlie Panke – among others – leading the charge.
Ashworth was a beast offensively as the attacker tallied 62 goals and 52 assists and the table-setter had his hands in everything offensively.
Ivers returns to his midfield position, adding 32 goals last season.
Max Peruta, David Harrold, and Tucker Raymond are a strong junior class with Raymond scoring nearly 90 goals in 2018.
Brycen Kennedy and Connor Matthews were excellent competitors from the freshmen class who will help the squad out in their second time around on the team.
Kennedy was a Class S All-State second team selection that added 79 goals and 54 assists to a very potent offensive onslaught.
This team graduated four invaluable players from that 18-win team but the team is loaded and ready for another big campaign.
For the first time, both public schools have separate girls lacrosse teams and the talent of the Bristol coop (5-11 in 2018) will be spread out.
Both programs will be building with an eye towards the future.
The St. Paul Catholic girls program had a very good season in 2018, winning 11 of 16 matches and earning a spot in the quarterfinal round in the Class S tournament fray.
At 11-5, the Falcons hosted its first ever state tournament game as the squad turned away Lewis Mills 13-7.
Emma Cretella is an offensive juggernaut as she netted 47 goals in 2018 and should lead the squad in that department again this year.
Also on the scoring front, sophomore Greta Panke flipped in 36 goals and added 14 assists as a freshmen standout.
Senior Catherine Ciampi added 26 goals for St. Paul Catholic over the team’s high-scoring attack.
Boys Tennis – The boys tennis programs were hovering around .500 for most of last season and each squad is looking to improve on those totals.
The Lancers did pretty well in CCC South matches, going 7-7 overall and 4-1 in league play.
Senior Ben Chiasson is a ball of energy and will be one of the program’s top players.
The program hopes to duplicate that outstanding 2018 campaign.
Central was one win better at 8-7 overall, an excellent finish, and was 3-2 in CCC South action.
The program is growing and returns senior David Gao, juniors Joey Guerin and Anthony Fasci, who spent times as the Rams’ No. 2 team in doubles last season.
Also returning for the Rams were the No. 3 doubles crew of Kenni Cantarero and Paul Kjornrattanawanich who also saw action in other parts of the line-up.
Girls Tennis – The St. Paul Catholic tennis team is always in the top half of the NVL equation and this spring looks to be no different.
The Falcons have to replace its top-two players due to graduation but senior Ximena Varela-Marin could be that No. 1 player.
The squad was outstanding last season and Varela-Marin – the No. 3 player in singles action – will lead this Falcons’ team.
The squad from Bristol Eastern rolled through the Patriot Division at 6-0 last year, going 7-10 overall against a very strong CCC interdivisional schedule.
The Lancers had a strong senior group and that’s where the program will turn to this season.
Sara Wodatch’s crew at Bristol Central won five matches in 2018 and will look to build off that effort.
All-conference performer Abigail Gorneault returns for her senior season and was a standout in CCC South matches.
Seniors Emilie Dube and Michelle Helming are also back and others that will take slots in the line-up should include sophomore Melaney Dam, junior Danielle Carey, and junior Erica O’Connor, among others.
Outdoor Track – On the boys front, Bristol Central and Middletown were the class of the CCC Southern division last season and that probably won’t change much this year.
The boys from Central (11 wins in 2018) have a huge roster and there’s tremendous talent from top to bottom that could be an even better team than the third place Class L squad was last year.
Competitors like junior David Bowes – part of Central’s school record breaking 4×100 relay team – will continue to race in those short distance springing events.
Other athletes that should excel once again include Jose Navedo, Hunter Peterson, Pacifico Flores, Devin Flores, Ben Stafford, Mark Petrowsky, Jose Ramiriez, Adam Jones, Nate DeAngelo, among several other athletes.
The Lancers were .500 last season and head coach Kyle Fuller simply wants his crew to improve throughout the season, peaking at the Class L meet.
St. Paul Catholic will also look to compete in the always tough Naugatuck Valley League fray.
The same could be said of the Falcons’ girls squad in NVL challenges.
Bristol Eastern’s girls track and field squad continues to grow and improve overall as Tony Floyd is back for his 38th season on the track.
St. Paul Catholic will also have a strong program with strong individual efforts from athletes up and down the line-up.
And Central should be the top squad in the CCC, South Patriot Division and challenge for the top spot in all the South – carrying a 9-3 ledger in 2018.
Adalia Malick is back for her senior campaign and placed fourth in the 400 meters at the Class L event. She also runs in several other sprinting events along with soccer teammate Mia Hinton.
She will be a top contender in that race again.
Junior Kaiya Alexander excelled in the field in 2018, setting the school record in shot put with a toss of 36 feet, three inches.
She’ll be a major force for the Rams in all the throwing events.
Once again for the Lancers and Falcons on the girls front, there will be several strong individual efforts to fuel those squads.
Sophomore Abi Calfe was a top finisher in the triple jump and will continue to excel in the jumping events.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.