caption, page 6: Woodstock Academy senior Adam Schimmelpfennig clears the last hurdle enroute to a first-place finish against NFA. Marc Allard photos.

Round up
Centaurs pick
up a rare girls’
track win
over NFA
Woodstock Academy girls’ track coach Josh Welch said he tested the memory of a host of other track coaches at the school and no one could remember, in recent history, any win for a Centaurs girls’ outdoor or indoor track team over Norwich Free Academy.
After a decisive indoor track victory, in a meet held outdoors in March, the Centaurs pulled off an outdoor one with a 75-72 victory over the Wildcats last week.
It came down to the final event.
Following the final track competition of the day, the Centaurs trailed the Wildcats by three points.
But the high jump competition was still going on and Woodstock Academy’s Jillian Edwards and Reegan Reynolds were competing.
“Jillian and Reegan had been very busy with other events, and I don’t think they were fully aware until both teams started to pile up to watch the last jumps,” Welch said. “We weren’t totally certain of the score, at that point I was missing data on the long jump, but we knew it was within a few points and they knew it would come down to the high jump.  You could see some nervous energy as the pressure of an audience came, but they were really pros out there.  Very composed, focused, and consistent.  I was impressed.”
Edwards finished with the win and Reynolds tied for second place, giving the Centaurs the necessary seven points to post the Eastern Connecticut Conference non-divisional victory.
Reynolds, a freshman, also finished first in the 400m, triple jump and was a member of the winning 4x400m team.
“Reegan had some nerves leading up to the meet, particularly about high jump, that she had to overcome to compete. She did an amazing job of moving past that nervous energy, and showed real strength, consistency and self-awareness out there.  I knew she had talent, and the right attitude from our first conditioning workouts, but she outperformed every expectation,” Welch said.
Other first-place finishers included Leila MacKinnon (javelin, 4x800m relay); Talia Tremblay (300m hurdles, 4x400m relay); Ksenjia Martinovic (100m hurdles) and both Iris Bazinet and Linsey Arends who helped both the 4x400 and 4x800m relay teams to first-place finishes.
Sophomore Bella Sorrentino qualified for the Class MM state championship with a first-place finish in the shotput.
“Bella has really helped change the tone on the team as one of our first multi-event athletes in while.  She took on some of NFA’s best and pulled up points and a state qualifying performance in the shot put, as well as locking in a crucial point in the long jump,” Welch said.
Boys’ Track
There were plenty of athletes who were participating in an outdoor track event for a first time when Woodstock Academy played host to Norwich Free Academy in a boys’ meet.
“It’s nice to have an outdoor meet again,” said Woodstock Academy coach Peter Lusa. “Our sophomores, some of our juniors, have never been in a high school track meet before. They are used to the middle school where it’s all the field events first, and when they’re done, now they go and do track events. I heard a kid say to (NFA coach) Tom (Teixeira), ‘Wait, there are events going on at the same time?’ Yes, there are.”
Teixeira said only about a third of his athletes had participated in a high school track meet.
It certainly didn’t slow the Wildcats down all that much as they won the season opener for both teams, 102-43.
“NFA draws from a good-sized crowd and it’s fun to have good competition. It’s good for our kids to see what is out there. I don’t know what we will see the rest of the season especially for our top kids to see. Eric (Phongsa) had two guys in the 200m to chase and it was brilliant to watch,” Lusa said.
Phongsa won the 100m and qualified for the Class MM state championship meet in that event with an 11.2 second time.
He also qualified in the 200m with a 24.1 second time but finished behind NFA juniors Dangelo Aristilde (22.9 seconds) and Max Louis (23.0) who ended in a photo finish.
Adam Schimmelpfennig had quite the day as he won both the 110 and 300m hurdles.
“It’s a surprise,” Schimmelpfennig said of his dual win in a meet against the Wildcats. “They used to have a really fast kid, but he graduated last year. I was really proud of my 110 (16.2 seconds) time and I actually felt pretty good after the 300.”
Schimmelpfennig’s 16.6 in the 110 hurdles qualified him for the state competition.
Other Woodstock Academy athletes who qualified and finished first included Jackson Dias in the high jump (5-10) and Keenan LaMontagne in the discus (127-9 ½). Hans Rhynhart also won the 1,600m (5:22) for the Centaurs. Junior Ian Hoffman finished second in the pole vault but improved by a foot over his previous best.
The instructions from Woodstock Academy coach Brian Murphy to Woodstock Academy junior third baseman Zach Roethlein  in the bottom of the seventh before he came to the plate with the winning run in scoring position were pretty simple.
“I said, ‘Zach, this is what you are meant for, big guy. Go out, swing the bat, win the game. Plus, I have to go and take my heart medication so get me out of here,” Murphy said. Roethlein did just that.
His walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave the Centaurs a 3-2 win over Tourtellotte.
Woodstock Academy trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the seventh as Tourtellotte starter Mason Barber handcuffed the Centaurs on four hits.
“Mason is a great competitor who has been with me for seven years on my travel teams and (American) Legion ball and I knew this was going to be a battle. It was good to see him go,” Murphy said.
Barber simply ran out of pitches.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference allows pitchers to only throw 110 pitches in a game. Barber exceeded that in the bottom of the sixth.
Tourtellotte brought on reliever Brayden Akana.
The junior got the first out on a fly ball but walked the next two, Keon Lamarche and Trey Ayotte.
Ninth batter Max Racicot then delivered a clutch single to right to load the bases.
Senior Jacob Hernandez tied the game when he lofted a ball to deep enough center to allow pinch runner Jackson Gallagher to score.
Roethlein stepped up and got what he was looking for. “It was a fast ball, down the middle and I took it over the shortstop’s head,” Roethlein said.
Ayotte steamed home from second and everyone on the team went looking for Roethlein.
“There is nothing like it. It’s truly one of the best feelings in the world, being out there and being swarmed by the team,” he said.
“It was good for Zach,” Brian Murphy added. “He’s a hard worker. A grinder. A kid who has been with me for a long time in baseball and I’m just happy for him. He deserves it.”
Kaden Murphy was the other hero of the day for the Centaurs.
The sophomore righthander went the distance, throwing 100 pitches, but holding Tourtellotte to just seven hits.
“Kaden battled,” Brian Murphy said. “I’ve seen him sharper, but for his first varsity start, to go seven innings and hold them after the first inning. He shut them down.”
Mackenzie Leveille had quite the week. The senior pitched a perfect game in a 20-0 five-inning mercy rule win over Tourtellotte early last week.
She followed that up April 17 with a three-run homer and a triple in a 15-0 five inning win over Putnam.
Woodstock Academy coach Jason Gerum said he thought the effort against Tourtellotte was the best pitching effort he had seen by the senior as she only needed 53 pitches for the win.
She finished with 11 strikeouts and only had to throw 16 pitches in the first two innings when she fanned five Tigers on three pitches each.
That followed a less than masterful performance by Leveille in the circle in the season opener against NFA.
“She’s a great player. She has a great bat,” Gerum said. “Her (pitching) stuff wasn’t really on against NFA last week (a 15-7 Centaurs loss in the first game of the season). NFA is a great hitting team. Her movement on balls we usually go to wasn’t working. It’s early season. She refocused and worked hard a couple of days. These kids play a lot of softball. They know what to do and, sometimes, you just have to get the rust out.”
Leveille also drove in four runs in the win over Tourtellotte as did sophomore Lexi Thompson who put a ball over the fence for a home run to go along with her two doubles. Amanda Bond added three hits and five RBIs.
The Centaurs wasted little time.
Sarah McArthur reached on a passed ball and Megan Preston walked.
Leveille followed with a shot to left-center that kept rolling and Leveille kept running for a three-run homer.
Thompson followed with a solo shot to make it 4-0.
Bond and Emily Goodell walked, Jenna Bankowski had a bunt single and Marissa Mayhew was hit by a pitch to score a run. Mia Pannone delivered an RBI single and McArthur followed with a three-run triple which meant the first nine batters to the plate all scored for the Centaurs.
“We took care of business. No messing around. No nonsense,” Gerum said. “When you are playing at a high level, which I think this team is, and you know that you can do some damage, you want to do it right away and get the game over. I asked them to jump right on it and get control of the game early and they did.”
Mayhew added a run-scoring double and finished with four RBIs for the Centaurs (3-1, 2-0 ECC Division 2). Thompson struck out 13 and allowed only one hit. Chloe Kerr had an infield single for the Clippers (1-2, 1-2).
Boys’ Lacrosse
The Centaurs had a 50-50 week heading into spring break.
Despite a cold rain falling, they easily prevailed over the Ledyard-Griswold cooperative program, 11-3, April 15.
Jonah Libby had a nice day with four goals and two assists while Guerin Favreau contributed three goals and three assists.
The win raised the Centaurs record to 2-1 as they had fallen earlier in the week at E. Lyme, 12-5. Jacob Jurnovoy and Favreau had two goals each in the loss.
Girls’ Lacrosse
The Centaurs rallied from a two-goal deficit early in the second half against NFA April 15, but the Wildcats still prevailed 9-7.
Shannon Gagnon and Eliza Dutson, both of whom had two goals in the game, scored for Woodstock to tie the contest at five with 15 minutes, 29 seconds to play. Rachel Canedy then put the Centaurs ahead just 2 ½ minutes later.
But the Wildcats responded, tying the game just 17 seconds after Canedy’s goal and then scoring the next three to drop Woodstock to 0-2 on the season and 0-2 in Division 1 of the ECC.
The Centaurs opened their season earlier in the week and lost on the road to Stonington, 17-2. Peyton Saracina and Gagnon scored in that contest for Woodstock.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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