My first full season of winter sports at Southington High School had plenty of highs, along with some lows, plus some new experiences.
First, we’ll start with the highs: I watched as Jacob Cardozo, Billy Carr and Trinity Cardillo all realized state championship dreams. Cardozo and Carr battled their way to first place on the wrestling mats of Trumbull High School, while Cardillo did the shot put better than the rest of her Class LL competition at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
For me, there was nothing better than the joy displayed by Cardozo when he jumped into the waiting arms of coach Derek Dion for a celebratory hug following his championship victory. Cardozo had worked his entire high school career for a state title, and he finally got it as a senior. Carr was also excited about his win, and he’s got a chance to do it all over again next winter as a senior.
There was nothing better than seeing the big smile on Cardillo’s face after she wrapped up her state championship in the shot put. The scary part for Cardillo’s competition is she has her outdoor track and field season to come, plus her indoor and outdoor seasons as a senior. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Boys basketball won a division title for the first time since the 1997-98 season, a sign of how far the program has come under the watch of coach John Cessario and his staff. After beginning the season 4-6, the Knights ripped off eight straight wins and showed what teamwork can do.
Boys swimming showed what strong work ethic and camaraderie can bring when they finished third at the CCC West Division meet. There were struggles during the season, but the boys and girls were loudly cheering each other on at the Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford that day.
There were tough times for some Southington squads. The Lady Knights struggled on the basketball court, but it wasn’t due to lack of effort. Southington was a very young team, and an injury to talented sophomore Ali Carr didn’t help. The Knights took their lumps this season, but the lessons they learned will only help them next season.
Hall-Southington ice hockey had a season of what-ifs and missed out on a state playoff berth. The Warrior-Knights got a second life in the CCC South playoffs, and pulled off an exhilarating overtime win in the semifinal round. My heart broke for Hall senior captain Michael DiPietro, who couldn’t play in the final because of a dislocated shoulder. You want seniors to finish their final seasons on the ice or on the court, not on the bench.
As for new experiences, I covered gymnastics for the first time in my career. There weren’t a lot of gymnastics teams in my former coverage areas, so it was an exciting and nerve-racking jump into the deep end for me. Happily, first-year Cassidy Chamberland was gracious and always willing to help me understand the sport. Few teams cheered more energetically for each other than the Southington gymnastics team did. It was a great to see and hear.
I also immersed myself in diving. Diving was always a hard event to get to during championship season at the dailies, but I have more time at The Observer, and I’m glad I do. Though I still can’t tell the difference between certain moves in diving, or how the intricacies of the scoring work, I have a better understanding of how hard our divers train. They don’t have a home diving board, meaning they must travel to Plainville High School six days per week to get their workouts in.
That’s not easy, but Southington’s divers showed that hard work pays off when E.J. Suski finished second at the CCC West Division championship meet and Chase Galayda finished fourth at the Class LL state meet.
The winter season was fun, but I’d be lying if I said I can’t wait for spring sports. With 10 varsity sports, it will be crazy, but at least it will be warmer out! See you all out there.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com