CHESHIRE — The Cheshire cross country and track programs bid farewell to a four-year cornerstone this month. They also bid farewell to a student whose rose to No. 2 in her class.
Lauren Daddi, a distance-running standout starting her freshman year, also went the distance in the classrooms of Cheshire High School. With a grade-point average of 4.743, Daddi was the Salutatorian of the Class of 2018.
In her time at Cheshire, Daddi earned induction into three academic societies: National Honor, National Science Honor and National English Honor. She was secretary of the latter.
She was a member of the Cheshire High and Southern Connecticut Conference All-Academic teams.
Daddi signs off leaving her name in Cheshire’s all-time girls’ top 10 in the distance events. She’s second in the 1600 meters and third in the 3200. She also ran on Cheshire’s record-holding 4x1600 relay team.
“Lauren has been an outstanding runner and leader for us all four years,” said Cheshire girls track coach Barbara Hedden. “She sets the tone quietly with her strong work ethic and determination. She excels both on and off the track with an academic record that is exceptional.
“As she graduates she will be remembered not only as an outstanding runner, but also as a caring individual who always supported her teammates.”
Daddi was one of 11 Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected by their coaches at Cheshire High School for the 2018 spring season. All 11 are invited to the Record-Journal’s “Best of the Bunch” awards brunch, which will be held at the Aqua Turf Club this coming Sunday, June 24.
Natalie Amato, softball: This senior right-hander rose to the occasion in her first and only year as Cheshire’s full-time starting pitcher.
Replacing Gatorade Player of the Year Abby Abramson, Amato pitched the Rams right back to the Class LL state semifinals.
Amato went 19-3 with a 1.30 ERA. She struck out 175 batters in 151 innings and held opposing batters to a .187 average.
At season’s end, Amato was named to the All-SCC First Team and All-Record-Journal Team. With a 3.905 GPA, Amato was also named All-SCC Academic.
Amato worked as a after-school tutor at the YMCA. She is heading to St. Joseph University to study Nursing and continue playing softball.
“Natalie has worked very hard on and off the field this year striving for excellence,” remarked Cheshire softball coach Kristine Drust. “Her growth is inspiring to all those around her.”
Joe Chen, boys volleyball: This senior with a 4.440 GPA was about as well-rounded a student as it gets.
While at Cheshire, Joe Chen participated in the Math League, Science Bowl and New England Music Festival Orchestra. He’s a member of the National English Honor Society and the Medical Interest Association.
Chen also checked in with the Chess Club and was president of the Bible Study Club. He was a National Merit Scholar Award winner and a Brown Book Award winner.
On the volleyball court this spring, Chen handed out 168 assists as setter at a 94-percent success rate. His passing was also spot-on at 92 percent.
Coach Sue Bavone named Chen the team’s Most Improved Player and designated him Record-Journal Scholar-Athlete for a second straight year.
“Joe has been a member of our team for four years and has grown so much in that time as both a player and person,” said Bavone. “He is one of our setters and is one of the most passionate players on the team.”
Ben DeLaubell, baseball: What more can be said about Ben DeLaubell? The senior right-hander went 9-1 this spring with a sub-0.50 earned run average to lead the Rams to their first state baseball championship in 25 years.
The senior right-hander capped the run with a three-hit shutout in the 1-0 championship victory over Ridgefield. A .329 hitter, DeLaubell also drove in the game-winning run.
"Just a terrific young man who did everthing we needed for him,” Cheshire baseball coach Bill Mrowka said. “He went 9-1 on the year. With our conference and our schedule, there is never a letdown. We were very fortunate to have him on the mound (in the finals) and it was fitting he was on the mound and got that game winning RBI. I cant say enough about him.”
Academically, DeLaubell put up a 3.781 GPA and was a Peer Health educator, a Link Crew leader and a Project Adventure leader. He also mentored a sixth-grade student this year.
DeLaubell is now off to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he will continue playing baseball.
Leah Gutowski, girls golf: Leah Gutowski was the leader of the show for Cheshire girls golf this spring. She was the team’s lone senior.
“Leah has been an outstanding member of our golf team,” remarked coach John Williams. “She has been a great asset and has set the perfect example as our captain.”
Gutowski graduated wtih a 3.74 GPA and earned a Business honor cord.
An officer in Best Buddies and a member of BRAVE, Gutowski will attend Temple University.
Michael Jeffery, boys lacrosse: Football has always been Michael Jeffery’s leading sport at Cheshire High. It is, after all, the game he walked in the door playing as a freshman varsity starter, only one of two to ever do so for the Rams.
Yet don’t discount Jeffery as a lacrosse player. He scored 43 goals this spring and set up 29 others and wound up being named the SCC’s Division I Boys Lacrosse player of the Year. He was also named to the All-State Team.
An All-Record-Journal and All-SCC Tier I player in football, Jeffery will continue playing at Amherst College. He checked out of Cheshire with a 4.269 GPA.
Caroline Jentzen, girls tennis: Holding down the No. 1 singles spot, Caroline Jentzen led the Rams to a 12-4 record, which secured them a berth in the Class L team tournament.
Jentzen put up strong academic numbers throughout her Cheshire tenure, graduating with a 4.102 GPA.
Isaac Moskowitz, boys track: This senior captain served a full term in office and went the distance on the track.
The president of Cheshire High’s Class of 2018 qualified for the Class LL state meet in the 3200 meters during the indoor season and as part of the 4x800 relay in the spring.
An Eagle Scout, Moskowitz amassed a 4.056 GPA.
Samantha Oris, girls lacrosse: This senior was named an R-J Scholar-Athlete in all three seasons this year. She was also Cheshire’s overall Female Scholar-Athlete for the winter season.
Oris capped her Cheshire career with a 3.991 GPA. She earned All-State status as a cheerleader and All-SCC First Team lacrosse recognition after helping the Rams reach the semifinals of the Class L state tournament.
Oris was a defender and team captain.
“Sam has grown as a lacrosse player and a leader every year she has played for us,” remarked coach Dan Warburton. “She started playing low defense as a junior and excelled there. She is fast and aggressive. She applies concepts quickly.
“Sam is also a leader in the classroom,” Warburton added. “She works hard, is involved and is always striving to improve.”
Oris is on her way to Fairfield University to major in Nursing.
Jack Stanton, boys golf: Jack Stanton was a four-year player on the links for Cheshire. He was Cheshire’s No. 5 golfer this season and helped the Rams return to the CIAC Division I Tournament.
”He’s the epitome of a team player,” Cheshire golf coach Dan Lee said. “He’s a hard-working kid and, as the No. 5 guy, we were always looking to see his score. He’s a good golfer, a better person and a great teammate.”
Stanton will be attending Boston College in the fall.
Andrew Walton, boys tennis: Cheshire’s No. 1 and No. 2 doubles player and team captain graduated with a 3.798 GPA and wearing Honor cords in Literature, Business and Art.
The three-time All-SCC Academic participated in a long list of extracurricular activities, including Unified Sports, Best Buddies, FBLA, DECA and BRAVE. He was selected to participate in the 2017 statewide Leadership Excellence Conference.
Walton was also a volunteer in the First Tee and Greatest Save programs, the Town-Wide Art Show and at the Franciscan Life Center.
He is heading to Providence College to study Business.
“Andrew has been a solo captain this year and his maturity and leadership skills have made him stand out among captains from past years, when the role was shared,” said tennis coach Nan Cunningham. “He is looked up to by all members of the team and leads by example on and off the court. He will be missed next year.”