MIDDLETOWN >> Girls basketball began last week. All the rest of the winter sports get underway this week. Here is a look at the other winter sports programs at Middletown, Xavier and Mercy high schools.
Middletown is in a three-school cooperative program with RHAM of Hebron and Rocky Hill. The coach is Eric Teixeira, who has been with RMR for four years, but this is his first as head coach.
RMR was 4-16 last season. The last time the team was in the postseason was 2011-2012.
The team members from MHS include senior goaltenders Tim Volpe and Nick Mroczka and two newcomers, freshman forward Terry Gaylord and freshman keeper Stephen Vaughan.
Important players from other schools are senior defenseman Kyle Doremus and junior forward Scot Mocko, who had four goals and 10 assists last year.
“We graduated five lettermen, but our goal is to make the Division III playoffs,” said assistant coach Josh Hamilton. “Our success is up to the seniors and how far they want to pull their teammates.”
RMR’s first game is against the cooperative team of Southington and Hall of West Hartford on Wednesday at the Veterans’ Rink in West Hartford at 7:30 p.m.
Xavier also has a rookie coach in Dan DeConti who has been with the school’s program for 10 years. Xavier was 13-6-2 last season and lost to Ridgefield in the second round of the Division I playoffs.
DeConti said the key members of the team are seniors Andrew Meoli (forward), John Burkinshaw (defense), Bryan Stanton (forward) and junior goaltender, Ben Guidobono. Newcomers include freshman Gordon Gurnell (forward), and sophomores Colin O’Donnel (forward) and Chris Connelly (forward).
“We’re rebuilding after losing players to graduation, prep school and junior hockey,” said DeConti. “We’re deep offensively and should be able to run three lines consistently. We expect to be competitive and expect to have a winning record and make the playoffs.”
Xavier opens with St. Joseph on Dec. 21 in the West Haven Holiday Tournament at 5 p.m.
Xavier, 21-4 last year and fifth in Class LL, looks to be loaded this season. “We return a solid lineup with a few experienced freshmen to fill in the holes,” said Falcons coach Mike Cunningham. “It’s possible it could be the most solid lineup from 106 to 285 pounds I have had in my 12 years at Xavier.”
Xavier will be led by seniors Will Chowanec (132/138 pounds), a two-time Class LL champion and two-time State Open place winner; senior Colin Cunningham (170/182 pounds), fourth in LL last year; senior Brendan Butler (160 pounds), two-time LL place winner who was fifth last year; senior Quinn Marino (145/152 pounds), returning starter; junior Chidi Broderick (220 pounds), fourth in LL last year; and sophomore Noah Cruz (195 pounds).
Promising newcomers include Tyler Kenney, Seve Burgos, Tom Fredericks, Paul Martorelli, Pat Precourt, Connor Gilbert and Pat Moynihan.
Xavier opens up at Amity Regional Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Middletown was 17-9 last year and finished in the Top 10 in Class L.
The Blue Dragons return three Class L place winners – all seniors – in Nate Roy, Jacob Grasis and Cody Carrillo. The three were All-Central Connecticut Conference South selections along with senior Jamar Jones.
Coach Mark Fong, in his 19th year, said that among his newcomers are freshmen John Grasis and Noah Sylvester.
“The team is a good mix of both upper and underclassmen,” said Fong. “Our goal is to improve every day and build towards the Class L championships. We should be the mix for the CCC-South title with Berlin, Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central.”
Middletown opens Wednesday at Trumbull.
Xavier was 8-3 last year, third in the SCC and 11th in Class LL.
“We are looking forward to a great season and building on the success we had last year,” said second year coach Chris Haines. “With great leadership and youthful exuberance, we are poised for another good year.”
The key returning swimmers are senior captain Andrew Lombardo (backstroke), senior captain Eric Normand (backstroke and freestyles), junior captain Brian Stevens (breaststroke, individual medley), junior Xavier Watson-Coleman (IM, butterfly), sophomore Jonah Brown (butterfly, backstroke), sophomore Dom Nazzarro (backstroke, freestyles), sophomore Dan Herlihy (breaststroke, freestyles) and freshman Kevin Erickson (IM, freestyles).
Xavier opens with West Haven Thursday at Wesleyan’s Freeman Center at 7 p.m.
Middletown High’s swim team, which hasn’t had a losing season in 30 years, is expected to be good again this year, maybe very good.
“We are excited about this year with a deep senior class,” said coach Trevor Charles, who is entering his 10th season at MHS. “We hope to win the CCC-South. Class L is loaded with the majority of state powerhouses, but we think we can finish in the top five.”
Last year MHS was 10-5 in dual meets, won the CCC South and was sixth in Class L.
Key returning swimmers/divers include junior Matt Dagenais, Class L champion in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke and State Open champion in the 200 IM. Dagenais was named the MVP in Class L.
Others include senior Michal Ciebielski, 200 and 500 yard freestyle Class L finalist, and senior divers Dan Kinney (fourth in L, fifth in the Open), Monica Marcello (sixth in Class L) and Adam Gauthier (12th in Class L). Among the newcomers, Charles said that freshmen Matt and Tim Joy are the standouts.
MHS opens at home with East Lyme on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Veteran Mercy coach John Hastings, now in his 24th year, thinks his Tigers can improve on their eighth place finish in the Southern Connecticut Conference meet and their 12th place finish in the State Class L meet.
“We weren’t too bad in the big meets last year,” said Hastings. “This year we should be better.”
The key returning members are runners Kaleigh Roberts, Mackenzie Pias, Bridgid Selfors and Hannah Albert, who led the cross-country team to the SCC championship this past fall. Hastings also said that middle distance runners Ally Kiley, Maddie Piel, Melanie Cirillo and Mikayla Mooney will also score points.
Sisters Bianca and Victoria Fiore were on last year’s record-setting 4×200 relay team. Hastings said that hurdlers Ava Coleman and Lauren Dunn will score points and experienced 4×400 runners Talia Staiger and Anna Weis also return.
Newcomers include sprinters Charity Hammond and Kylie McCarthy.
Mercy opens with the SCC Developmental Meet on Dec. 19 at Hillhouse High in New Haven.
Xavier had a great season last winter, taking first place in the SCC Western Sectional, first in the overall SCC meet and ninth in Class LL. Coach Chris Stonier, who is in his second year, said that key members are seniors Luke Velez, who ran the third fastest 300 meters (36.92 seconds) in school history and was third in the SCC meet, and senior Zach Williams, who set a school record in the two mile of 9:32.75 in the New England championships taking 10th place.
Sophomore Dan Hettrick, a distance runner, is a newcomer with promise.
“After our surprise win at the SCC last year, we are looking to put together a more well-rounded team that can finish high in the standings,” said Stonier. “With some young athletes and some first-time seniors, we are hoping for more surprises.”
Xavier opens with the SCC Developmental Meet at Hillhouse Thursday.
Middletown’s boys indoor track team is coming off a CCC-South championship. The team was 5-0 in dual meets and had alumnus Jashane Brown qualify for both the State Open and New Englands in the 55 dash.
“We lost several talented sprinters to graduation,” said 18-year coach Jenn Price. “We will be relying on the seniors in the jumps and distances for leadership and improved performances this winter.”
Key team members include seniors Tim Harvey (long, high jump), London Highsmith (55 dash, long jump, relays), Mateo Alvarez (3200, 4×800 relay) and Ben Schaff (1000 meters, 4×800). Also expected to be significant contributors are juniors Chris Highsmith and Marvyn Whittaker in the relays.
Price said her key newcomers are sophomores Gene Footman (sprints and relays) and Will O’Reilly (distance), and freshman distance runners Michael Ahern, Matt Cantwell and Jalen Coleman.
The MHS girls will be led by Jasmine McMillan (state qualifying long and high jumper) and Amanda Bomley, expected to qualify for states in the 300 meters.
“We have a lot of young athletes who will hopefully build a strong future to compete in the CCC,” said coach Kelly Ellis.
Both the MHS boys and girls teams will compete in the New Haven Invitational at the Floyd Little Athletic Center at Hillhouse High on Dec. 20.
The winter is the competition season for cheerleading teams. Middletown High has a 17-member varsity squad led by senior captain Calvin Dempsey. Coach Sharon Riley said her team has seven freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors plus Dempsey. Junior Olivia Hunter is co-captain.
The team will participate in three competitions, two in February – one of which will be the Central Connecticut Conference competition – and the state competition in March. MHS also has a junior varsity team.
“The team has been working hard in the areas of stunting and tumbling,” said Riley. “They are excited about learning new things.”
Mercy’s cheerleaders, who do double duty at both Xavier and Mercy High Schools, have an ambitious competition schedule coming up according to one of their coaches, Charmaine Lane.
The team will compete Jan. 25 at the Connecticut Classic Cheer competition at Wolcott High School, and on Feb. 1, the team will compete in the Southern Connecticut Conference event at Shelton High. On Feb. 15, the team will be at the Windsor Warrior Challenge at Windsor High,
Mercy will also compete at the Sachem Cheer Challenge at North Haven High on Feb. 22.
The NECA Cheerleading competition at North Haven High will take place Mar. 1 with the competition season ending at the CIAC Class LL state event at the Floyd Little Athletic Center at Hillhouse High in New Haven.