For a quarter century now, the New Haven Register has honored its Athletes of the Year for each school year.
We honor some the top area athletes in each sport once again, like Hillhouse’s DeShaune Poole, a dominant force in track and field; Hand’s Phoenix Billings, who stands out in both football and baseball; Jackson Benigni, who led Hamden Hall to a NEPSAC Class B basketball championship; Cheshire’s Mia Juodaitis, a standout in volleyball and basketball in addition to softball; and North Branford’s Allie Augur, a dominant goalkeeper throughout her entire high school soccer career.
And if you ever even think these decisions to name MVPs are easy, think again. Just consider some of these other great athletes: center fielder Ryan Strollo from Cheshire, who batted .430, didn’t make a single error, led the Rams to 25 straight victories and will play at Fairfield University; Connor Raines from Notre Dame-West Haven, a double-double threat every night on the court, who will do the same next year at Texas Rio Grande Valley; Guilford’s John DeLucia, a standout in both hockey and lacrosse, heading to Quinnipiac to play the latter; Taniyah Thompson, a basketball standout at Hamden heading to play with East Carolina; and North Haven’s Erica Marriott, a standout in the long jump and a former Area MVP who will compete at Stony Brook next season.
Let’s take a look at how some of last year’s Area MVPs have done.
Juan Avila came off a state soccer championship at Morgan and started six games for Southern Connecticut State. Caroline Monahan from Lauralton Hall went on to play soccer at William & Mary. Cheshire’s Liz Boyer swam several events last fall for Harvard. Fairfield Prep’s Drew Thompson, a three-time Area MVP, went on to run at Dartmouth.
After a year as a post-grad, Amity’s Tyer Thomas will now play basketball at Sacred Heart. The year after leading Mercy to the Class LL state girls basketball championship, Bella Santoro played in 30 games at Stonehill. Ryan Luth out of Foran went 22-3 at 157 pounds during his freshman season at Washington & Lee.
Another former Amity standout, Colin Roy, swims now at Ohio State University. And yet another ex-Amity standout, Pat Winkel, batted .318 with seven homers to help UConn advance to the NCAA Division I tournament.
Hamden’s Aisha Gay moved on to compete in both indoor and outdoor track and field at Quinnipiac. Seymour’s Becca Johnson started 51 out of 52 games in the outfield this past spring for the Colgate softball team. Branford’s Sophie Spencer scored nine goals in her first season for the Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse team. Andrew Forchetti, a dominant force in tennis for Notre Dame-West Haven, finished 8-2 in singles at Bryant.
And then there are the repeat MVP recipients: Abigail Harbinson from Amity (girls volleyball), Meredith Bloss from Guilford (girls cross country), DeShaune Poole from Hillhouse (boys indoor track), Julia Migliorini of North Haven (girls tennis) and Chris Fosdick from Xavier (golf).
In addition, we are honoring Alana Bochanis from Westbrook, a field hockey standout who participated in several other sports despite having congenital heart disease. Bochanis was also the 2019 Michael Savage Spirit of Sport Recipient.
It should make for another spectacular evening as the sun sets at Amarante’s Sea Cliff — and the conclusion of another great school year.
2019 Brian Baisley Award for Perserverance
ALANA BOCHANIS, WESTBROOK
New Haven Register MVPs: 2018-19
Football: Phoenix Billings, Hand
Boys’ Soccer: Scott Testori, Hand
Girls’ Soccer: Allie Augur, North Branford
Field Hockey: Mikayla Crowley, Cheshire
Girls’ Volleyball: Abigail Harbinson, Amity
Girls’ Swimming: Sophie Murphy, Cheshire
Boys’ Cross Country: Robert Dillon, Shelton
Girls’ Cross Country: Meredith Bloss, Guilford
Boys’ Basketball: Jackson Benigni, Hamden Hall
Girls’ Basketball: Makenzie Helms, East Haven
Ice Hockey: Colin Bella, Fairfield Prep
Wrestling: Ray Weiner, Shelton
Boys’ Indoor Track: Deshaune Poole, Hillhouse
Girls’ Indoor Track: Jada Boyd, Hillhouse
Boys’ Swimming: Andrew Buehler, Sheehan
Gymnastics: Mia Lawrence, Mercy
Baseball: Andrew Marrero, Wilbur Cross
Softball: Mia Juodaitis, Cheshire
Boys’ Lacrosse: Zackary Hochman, Notre Dame-West Haven
Girls’ Lacrosse: Annie Eddy, Cheshire
Boys’ Outdoor Track: DeShaune Poole, Hillhouse
Girls’ Outdoor Track: Susie Okoli, Wilbur Cross
Boys’ Tennis: Josh Israel, Hand
Girls’ Tennis: Julia Migliorini, North Haven
Golf: Chris Fosdick, Xavier
Boys’ Volleyball: Colby Hayes, Cheshire