Commentary: Selecting the Observer Athletes of the Year

One of the hardest jobs each year is wading through the reams of statistics, results, and accomplishments of Southington High School’s senior class to try to determine the one male and female athlete that best exemplifies the best that the class has to offer. The Class of 2018 was no exception.

How to you select just two athletes from a class of approximately 500 graduating seniors? The Class of 2018 had more than 160 student-athletes with 57 multi-sport athletes and 23 that competed throughout all three seasons. Choosing just one female and one male in a group of so many talented athletes was an almost impossible challenge.

Obviously, success on the field is a crucial factor, but we also consider athleticism, sportsmanship, teamwork, and integrity. Versatility has come to be a very heavily weighted category, but with so many multi-sport athletes it doesn’t thin the field too much. Grades can tip the scales. Extra-curricular activities are measured, and intangibles always matter.

This year marked a tremendous resurgence for Southington athletic teams. Teams competed at high levels in every seasons. Records fell. The Knights came away with a slew of conference championships and a host of teams challenged in the postseason. When the dust finally settled, the Lady Knight track team finally snapped a three year state championship drought with a state open team title—the first in program history!

This has been a truly special year, so choosing The Observer’s Athletes of the Year has been no easy task.

We made arguments for every single three-sport athlete, and this class had a number of good ones.

Conner Leone, Shane Leone, Jeffrey Hannigan, Marcel Prat, Michael Dorsey, Sean Young, Teagan Duffy, Zachary Burleigh, Allison Brown, Amanda Brocki, Kelly Koba, and Laini Pizzitola never seemed to stop as a group of runners that started int he fall, continued through the winter, and kept going in the spring.  Amanda Howe and Megan Biscoglio strenghtened their legs during the cross country before shifting to the field events for a string of state titles.

Abigail Connolly and Deborah Hannigan shifted from soccer to two seasons of track, while Julia McPherson went from field hockey to two seasons of track and field. Boys were just as versatile with        John Terray and Keegan Jarvis shifting from football to indoor and outdoor track. Tim O’Shea went from football to basketball and track. Cameron Clynes  and Jacob Mohr competed alongside each other in cross country and outdoor track but spent their winters with basketball (Clynes) and ice hockey (Mohr).

Another 35 athletes competed over two seasons. Multi sport athletes for the boys included Jeremy Mercier, Ryan Middendorf, Tanner Sperry, Drew VanAlmkerk, Alexander Kuhr, Jacob Holbrook, Thomas Tsangarides, Shaun Wagner, Tagan Welch, Cameron Zegzdryn, Daniel Topper, Brandon Kohl, Jack Herms, Jake Monson, James Ringrose, Jonathan Clark, and Brian Davis. Multiple girls teams welcomed two-sports athletes Janette Wadolowski, Julia Groll, Katarina Aulbach, Sophia Chaltas, Tayler Riddick, Julia Wells, Sarah Myrick, Stephanie Zera, Kara Zazzaro, Alexa Imme, Taylor Hubert, Brittney Sao, Jenna Garcia, Lauren Graef, Molly Dobratz, Anna Shugrue, Jasmin Cahill, and Sarah Minkiewicz.

There were also a number of female athletes dominant in one sport. Kat Rothstein, Jennifer Thai, and Rachel Williams anchored the gymnasts. Olivia Fournier was one of the best swimmers in program history. Isabella Scalise (cross country), Samantha Barmore and Coral Tommervik (tennis),  and a score of others dominated the headlines.

There were also males that dominated single sports, too. Class essayist Evan Bender was fun to watch in the pool. So was Quint Kimmel. Evan Daddona (soccer), Ryan Montalvo (football), and William Barmore (football) were stars in their seasons. The list goes on and on. We’ve barely scratched the surface.

There were so many girls that could be singled out that it boggles the mind. Ultimately, it came down to Janette Wadolowski because…well…because everything she touched was gold. She played one year on the softball team, and led them in hitting. She played powder puff, and found a way to contribute. She stepped onto the field this spring and dominated javelin as a rookie, winning conference and Class LL titles, capturing a state open medal, and advancing to the New England meet in an event that takes years to perfect. She was one of three girls that came together to win Southington’s first track state title.

But it’s on the basketball court that she did her best work. Fighting off injuries in two years, she still managed to become just the sixth player in program history to score 1,000 points and finished at No. 2 in the scoring record books. As if that’s not enough, she was president of the local National Honor Society. If that’s not a great scholar-athlete, what is?

One person emerged from the boys competition, too. Arguments could be made for more than one, but Tim O’Shea III rose to the top of the list. He was an outstanding receiver, the top veteran in an up-and-coming receiving corp that kept Southington in the hunt for a postseason berth through a Thanksgiving Day win. In the winter, he helped put the boys basketball team back on the map, battling their way to the state tournament and helping them to their first quarterfinal berth in more than a decade. Then, in the spring, he helped set a school record as part of the 4x200m relay team.

There may be no better example of a top athlete making others around him better. He was all about team success.

So thanks to all the athletes that left us with great memories and proved—once again—that Southington High School is one of the best all-around sports programs that this state has ever seen.

The bar has been raised again for the Class of 2019. Who will rise to the top? Who will dominate the conversation next year, on and off the field? There’s already a long list of potential candidates.

Now comes the fun part.

To comment on this story or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at

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