caption, page 3:


Moving the Ball
Woodstock Academy’s Jacob Jurnovoy races downfield with the ball against NFA. Photo by Marc Allard.

Centaurs pick
up big win
vs. Griswold
Pitching duels used to be the rule rather than the exception in high school softball.
Ever since the pitching rubber inside the circle was pushed back, they have become much more rare.
But it doesn’t mean they can’t happen.
Woodstock Academy and Griswold showed that to be true in their first meeting.
The Centaurs, behind the pitching of sophomore Lexi Thompson, blanked the Wolverines, 1-0 May 1.
“Lexi was on fire,” said Woodstock Academy coach Jay Gerum. “She could have had 18 strikeouts (she finished with 13). She was ahead in counts. (Griswold) was taking off-balance swings and was forced to bunt. Some of those outs were close to strikeouts.”
The two teams went into the game tied for the lead in Division 2 of the ECC, Griswold at 8-0 and Woodstock Academy at 5-0.
 “We have the edge in the loss column now, we’re the No. 1 seed so far and we’re in the driver’s seat which is helpful,” Gerum said.
It’s far from over, though, as the Centaurs still have nine divisional games to play including a second showdown with Griswold at 4 p.m. May 6 in Woodstock.
Gerum is a former head coach of the Wolverines. “I love beating Griswold but those guys are really my good friends,” Gerum said. “(Griswold coach) Rick (Arremony) was my assistant at Griswold and we coached summer ball together where I was his assistant. That was my first home, first success.”
It makes it all the more special for Gerum’s Centaurs to have now beaten the Wolverines in their last two meetings.
The only run Saturday came in the fourth inning and Thompson was a part of that as well. Thompson doubled and advanced to third on a passed ball. She scored when Amanda Bond reached on an infield error.
Thompson and Leveille each had two of the four hits off Griswold pitcher Kaelin Waldron who struck out 16.
Waldron also had two of the three hits off Thompson including a double to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
A sacrifice bunt moved Waldron over to third but that is where she stayed as Thompson struck out the next two batters to give the Centaurs the win.
Boys’ Lacrosse
The Woodstock Academy boys’ lacrosse team was sitting on a two-goal lead against NFA last week when disaster nearly struck.
With 3 ½ minutes left to play, the Centaurs were called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that left them a man down.
“Going a man down for two minutes, locked in, that’s rough. Late in the game, that’s really tough. But the guys rallied together and were able to kill the penalty which was beautiful,” said Woodstock Academy coach Jason Tata.
The Wildcats were able to score with 1:15 left, but it was not enough and the Centaurs broke a two-game skid with an 8-7 win over NFA.
“It feels good to finally get back in the win column after losing three (of the last four) and especially winning on our home field. We’re undefeated here so it’s an awesome feeling,” said senior goalie Colin Liscomb.
Liscomb was a key, making 22 saves.
“Colin is an absolute stone wall,” Tata said. “Goalies are underappreciated a little. You don’t see their names on the stat sheet, they don’t get the five or six points but he’s sitting out there, saving twenty-odd shots every single game we play. The kid is incredible and a heckuva leader.”
NFA did take the early 2-0 lead but the Centaurs rallied when Alex Wojciechowski scored.
That’s when Guerin Favreau went to work. The senior attack scored the next three goals to put the Centaurs up, 4-2.
The match, however, was far from over as NFA rallied to tie the game by halftime and went up by two goals midway through the third quarter.
Wojciechowski pulled the Centaurs within one with his fourth goal of the season late in the third quarter and Jonah Libby tied the match at 6 when he scored 1:15 in the final period.
Favreau scored the next two, including a pretty tuck into the lower left corner, with 5 ½ to play to give the Centaurs the 8-6 lead.
Favreau’s five-goal effort gave him 26 tallies on the season.
“I have to figure out a way to get Guerin and Colin to flunk out and have to restart their senior year. They are absolutely incredible,” Tata said with a laugh. “Guerin even picked up a D(efensive)-pole and played close defense for the last minute and a half.”
The Centaurs needed that.
They did yield a goal with 1:15 to play on a nice behind-the-back flip by NFA’s Logan Jenkins that reduced it to a one-goal difference.
But Liscomb, Favreau and the defense held firm.
“This is huge,” Tata said. “NFA is one of the powerhouses in our league. We can’t go on a skid, this is a huge swing for us going into next week.”
It was the only game of the week for the Centaurs who went into a week-long break with a 3-3 overall record and a 1-3 mark in Division 1 of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
Boys’ Track
Home cooking has meant good things for the Woodstock Academy boys track program.
The Centaurs have been home for all three of their meets including Wednesday’s 102-45 win over New London on the South Campus track.
 “Having three home meets in a row is very nice. The boys are comfortable with the flow of the meet and know what needs to happen and when. It has helped to build a team atmosphere and an appreciation for the different events,” Woodstock Academy coach Pete Lusa said.
Outside of a season-opening loss to NFA, the Centaurs have since posted wins over Killingly and now the Whalers.
What’s even better is that they get to be at home for a fourth meet in a row when they host Bacon Academy April 28.
The results have also been pretty similar with some familiar faces scoring some substantial points.
Senior Adam Schimmelpfennig, for the third straight meet, captured both hurdle events.
He won the 110 hurdles in 15.4 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 41.6.
“I am very happy for Adam. His form is fantastic. I can’t wait to see what tougher competition will do to lower his times,” Lusa said.
Eric Phongsa was also a dual winner in both the 100 (11.2 seconds) and 200-meter (24.0).
Ian Hoffman captured the 400-meter (55.5) and also was first in the pole vault again when he cleared the bar at 9-feet, 6-inches.
Other first-place finishers for the Centaurs included Keenan LaMontagne in the discus (126-75); Tanner Favreau in the long jump (16-9 ½); Liam Wilcox in the triple jump (33-11 ½); Jackson Dias in the high jump (5-10); Seamus Lippy in the 3200m (12:00) and Ethan Aspiras in the 1600m (4:50).
“I was pleased with Ethan running so well in the 1600. He really wants to perform well in the 3200, however, his 1600 time today is close to qualifying for states too,” Lusa said.
The Centaurs also won the 4x100m and 4x800m relay events to raise their record to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in Division 2 of the ECC.
“As far as the team goes, we are young. I do expect that they will continue to improve,” Lusa said. “I am benefitting from the great system that was in place from Indoor Track.  (Indoor track and girls’ outdoor track coach) Josh Welch is phenomenal as a coach and motivator of athletes. He created a climate where athletes recognize that hard work can result in improved performance.”
Girls’ Track
The word the Woodstock Academy Centaurs girls’ track team could use following its meet against New London was dominance.
The Centaurs put together a solid performance all around, placing first in 14 of the 18 events and scoring a 116-29 victory.
 “I did not expect that number of first-place finishes.  We were trying some athletes in new events, and pulled some lead athletes in events to try something new,” said coach Josh Welch. “In those instances, Hailey McDonald in the 100m for example, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well she stepped up to take a win there. We saw a significant number of personal best performances and a few state qualifiers.  We are showing continued growth all around, and it was great to have everyone back after missing several athletes over the break,” Welch said.
The Centaurs, missing nine athletes due to spring break, narrowly escaped with a win over Killingly the Saturday before.
That followed a three-point win over NFA in the season opener. So the one-sided win over New London may not have been expected, but was certainly welcomed by Welch after the two nail biters.
Only two athletes came away with multiple victories. Leila MacKinnon took both the javelin competition (67 feet- ¼ inch) and the 800m (2 minutes, 35 seconds).
“Leila is proving to be a tremendously versatile athlete.  This was her first attempt at the open 800m and she narrowly missed qualifying for states,” Welch said.
Jillian Edwards also was dual first-place finisher, winning the high jump (4-feet, 6-inches) and 100m hurdles (18.5 seconds).
Welch was also pleased with Ksenija Martinovic who stumbled in the 100 hurdles but regained most of her momentum and finished second. She also was a member of the winning 4x100m team and won the 300m hurdles where she also qualified for the Class MM state championship meet.
Bella Sorrentino won the shotput (32-1 ½) and added a foot to her state qualifying mark. She also finished second in the long jump (15-0) to qualify for states in that event as well.
Leah Castle was a member of the winning 4x800m team and also won the 1600m (6:03) race individually.
Other first-place finishers included Magdelena Myslenski in the discus (79-2); Gabrielle Couture in the pole vault (6-6); Reegan Reynolds in the triple jump (29-0), McDonald in the 100m (14.2) and Carah Bruce in the 3200m (13:00).
Welch said there were also just too many personal bests to write down.
It all led to the Centaurs raising their record to 3-0 including a 2-0 record in Division 2 of the ECC.
“It has been an exciting season so far.  I did not expect to have such success right out of the gates knowing we were going to be a very young team.  The win against NFA set a tone, and the team has kept that ball rolling.  The positivity and support among the athletes is a huge factor coming in to each practice, and each meet.  They are excited to learn, happy to work hard, and are enjoying the rewards that come with an exceptional work ethic and focus on growth,” Welch said.
The Centaurs have their third consecutive home meet May  when they play host to Bacon.
Boys’ Golf
Woodstock Academy boys’ golf coach Rich Garceau wasn’t sure what he had to begin the season.
It’s still a work in progress but the Centaurs have had success in the early going.
The Centaurs downed Griswold, 5-2, April 28 to raise their record to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in Division 2 of the ECC.
The win at the River Ridge Golf Course in Jewett City was preceded by a win over the Tourtellotte-Putnam cooperative team, 7-0, and a 4-3 loss to NFA.
“I am pleased with the results,” Garceau said. “We are young and inexperienced at the core of our team, so coming out three days in a row and having reasonable scores is certainly boosting our confidence. Our score against Tourtellotte-Putnam made us realize we have the potential to beat anyone out here, but we also know that we can be beaten by anyone out here too, so we have to focus on limiting bad decisions, playing relaxed under pressure and playing smart, efficient golf.”
The Centaurs finished with a season low 168 against the Tigers.
Kyle Brennan shot an even-par 36 in the nine-hole round for a second day in a row.
He had also carded a 36 in the loss to NFA, also at Quinnatisset, the day before.
The No. 2 man on the team, Chris Thibault, has been up-and-down. He shot a 57 against NFA, dropped to a 45 in the Tourtellotte match, but was back up at 57 against Griswold.
“Chris is a diamond in the rough with loads of potential but he needs to believe in himself.  He is starting to make that turn but in golf a few bad holes to an inexperienced golfer can do more damage than a few good holes can in helping with confidence,” Garceau said.
It was the bottom half of the lineup that saved the day against the Wolverines. Davis Simpson, Adam Thompson and Jack Armstrong came through to win their matches and preserve the victory.
Brennan was again low man on the team with a 43, but he was beaten by three strokes by Griswold’s Matt Ladd and Thibault also lost his match.
“The bottom of the order is always critical to a team win.  At the 1 and 2 spots, it is common to have a battle because even less skilled teams may have one or two strong players at the top.  If you can get relative consistency from the 3, 4 or 5 golfers that can scratch out a point and help lower the team score that is critical.  That is exactly what happened (against Griswold).  One and two had excellent competition but the bottom of the order held their own and got the point,” Garceau said.
Simpson shot a 50, Thompson a 53 and Armstrong a 58.
And while wins and losses mean something to the team, Garceau said he is trying to instill something a bit different into his charges.
“Although they are looking at wins and losses, at some point they will start maturing and looking at their own performance against the golf course and that is when they will start dropping their overall scores.  Winning is great against anyone and Griswold has real potential and we saw that,” Garceau said.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy

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