SOUTHINGTON — Southington senior lineman Owen Bouchard’s goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon.
It’s not hard to imagine a day in the future when a football player from the next generation seeks out Dr. Bouchard for consultation and the two wind up swapping tales from the line of scrimmage.
Bouchard was a two-year starting offensive lineman for the 2017 and 2018 Blue Knights. This season, he was part of an attack that averaged 385 yards and 35 points in going 10-0 in the regular season before bowing out in the quarterfinals of the Class LL state tournament.
That 10-0 record extended Southington’s football reputation. It was the program’s fifth unbeaten and untied regular season this decade and 15th in program history.
”Owen was the ultimate team player,” said coach Mike Drury. “He did everything that was asked of him and more. He led the team with pride and honor. He holds himself and others around him to the highest standards.”
A National Honor and National Latin Honor Society student, Bouchard ranks No. 15 in the senior class with a 109.406 academic average.
He was one of eight Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes named by their coaches at Southington High School for the fall 2018 season. All eight will be invited to the fourth annual Record-Journal “Best of the Bunch” awards brunch that will be held at the Aqua Turf Club in June.
Julie Duszak, girls swimming: This senior continued a fine legacy in both the extended Southington swim
ming family and her own immediate family.
Following older siblings Matt and Victoria, Duszak was a team captain and record-breaker for the Blue Knights aquatic.
The youngest Duszak first started swimming varsity with the boys team before shifting over to the girls program in her junior year. Once there, Duszak was unbeatable in the 100-yard breaststroke, capping two perfect dual-meet seasons with back-to-back CCC West championships in that event.
This season, Duszak reached the State Open in the breaststroke as well as in the 50 freestyle. She broke a school record in the 50 free when she finished fourth in 24.51 seconds at the Class LL meet.
Duszak was also a part of school records and CCC West championships in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. The medley mark of 1:51.62 came at this year’s Class LL meet. The 200 free record of 1:39.30 came at the State Open.
Add it up and Duszak was part of six CCC West championships and three school records. She swam in four events in this year’s State Open and helped the Blue Knights place 13th, their best finish ever at Connecticut’s top meet.
She earned coach Evan Tuttle’s 2018 Most Valuable Swimmer Award and was named to the inaugural All-Record-Journal Girls Swimming Team.
Academically, Duszak ranks No. 11 in the Class of 2019 with a 110.46 average. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and president of the Spanish Honor Society.
“Julie has been an invaluable member of the Southington swim and dive program and set an example of diligence, determination, but also what it takes to be a student-athlete,” Tuttle remarked. “Set to graduate among the top of her class with an intensive and diverse course load, she has provided those that look to her for leadership with a model of excellence.
“We have a motto within our program to be the best version of one’s self each and every day,” Tuttle added. “Julie is the embodiment of that motto. Her stubborn determination to be the best athlete, best student, the best person she can possibly be is an inspiration to many, including myself.”
■Julia Jackman, field hockey: Southington field hockey rode a high-powered offense to a Class L state tournament berth. The Lady Knights notched 45 goals in a 7-9-0-1 season.
Julia Jackman, one of the senior captains, delivered 13 of those 45 goals. She also assisted on two others.
Field hockey is just one of Jackman’s sports. She also plays lacrosse and Powder Puff football.
With a 110.937 academic average, Jackman ranks No. 9 in the Class of 2019. She’s a member of both the National Honor and Spanish National Honor societies and serves as secretary of the Student Council.
Jackman is also employed at the Southington YMCA as a swim instructor and child care worker.
”Julia works hard on and off the field,” noted field hockey coach Erin Luddy. “She is the epitome of a student-athlete. She is dedicated to succeeding personally and to the team’s success. She is always challenging herself and leads others to do the same. As a captain, she was a leader who made this season fun and successful.”
■Kate Kemnitz, girls cross country: Southington’s senior captain led the Lady Knights at the Class LL meet, running a team-best 20:53. She also earned All-Conference status by placing 15th in the CCC Championship in 20:35.
Keep the numbers coming. Kate Kemnitz’s best 5K time for her career was 20:22 With a 108.44 academic average, she ranks in the top 25 in the Class of 2019, and serves as Class Historian.
“Kate has been a top competitor in our CCC division for the last two years and a top runner for Southington since she joined cross country her sophomore year,” coach Dan Dachelet said. “She did an amazing job as a team captain and helped to start some new traditions with the squad.”
Kemnitz is also a team captain for the indoor track team.
■Jenna Martin, volleyball: Senior captain Jenna Martin was one of those “glue” players for the Southington volleyball team, which pieced together a perfect 18-0 regular season and eventually reached the Class LL state semifinals before falling 3-2 to Darien.
Along with being a team leader, Martin was solid in all phases of the game. She was second on the team in digs (280) and aces (52). She also knocked down 91 kills and served at a 90.7 percent success rate.
At season’s end, Martin was named to the All-Conference and All-Record-Journal teams while also drawing an invitation to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s Senior All-Star Game.
Academically, Martin ranks No. 20 in the senior class with a 109.089 average. She’s a member of the National Honor and World Language Honor societies. She put up the highest GPA in World History as a sophomore and in U.S. History as a junior.
“Jenna is a consummate team player,” remarked coach Rich Heitz. “Highly respected by her teammates, she leads by example on and off the court. It has been an absolute pleasure to have her in our program these past four years, especially as one of our captains this season.
“Her success in the classroom, while working to improve herself on the court, sets a fine example to all of the underclassmen in our program.”
■Tyler Salzillo, boys soccer: A two-year letter-winner, Tyler Salzillo played multiple positions for the Blue Knights, from forward through midfield to defense.
He was a key part of Southington’s CCC West divisional title team of 2017.
“Tyler had a tremendous career as a member of the boys soccer team,” remarked coach Dave Yanosy. “He was a very versatile player for us … He has an extremely bright future and will undoubtedly be successful as an adult.”
Like his fellow scholar-athletes from the fall season, Salzillo ranks high in Southington’s Class of 2019. He’s at No. 18 with a 109.216 average and has been inducted into the National Honor and World Language Honor societies.
■Tyler Strong, boys cross country: Some distance runners set the pace with their times, some with their leadership. Senior Tyler Strong did both for the Blue Knights as team captain.
A third-year runner, Strong’s top 5K time was 18:02. His personal-best at Wickham Park, site of the conference and state championship meets, was 19:17.
His academic average stands at 109.9.
“Tyler has been a mainstay and leader of the team since his sophomore year,” remarked coach Dan Dachelet. “He was a fantastic captain who helped prepare the athletes this summer for a great season.”
■Natalie Verderame, girls soccer: An offensive sparkplug throughout her four years in blue, Natalie Verderame finished her Southington soccer career with 34 goals and 22 assists after putting up eight goals and three assists during the Blue Knights’ 15-2-0 season of 2018.
Verderame came away with All-CCC West recognition for a third straight year and was named to the 2018 All-Record-Journal Girls Soccer Team.
She also took home her team’s Unsung Hero Award and now moves on to track and field. Verderame is Southington’s leading female sprinter on the indoor and outdoor teams, a skill that served her well in soccer.
“Natalie has exceptional sprinter’s speed, which allows her to create separation on the field,” said soccer coach Mike Linehan. “Natalie accumulated the most goals in the high school program over the recent four years. She is a natural leader and, as a result, was the team captain. She is an exceptional role model both in the classroom and on the field.”
Verderame maintains a 105.5 academic average. She holds membership in the National Honor and World Language Honor societies, and won a “Make My Day” award from the English Department.