WALLINGFORD — There’s a face missing from the photograph that accompanies this story.
It’s a key one: Rob Hacku, junior captain of the Sheehan boys swim team.
Typically, Hacku would have been present for the photo. But when it was taken Wednesday night prior to Sheehan’s winter sports banquet, Hacku was in North Carolina competing in an elite swimming event.
Which helps explain why Hacku’s name is in the headline.
One of Sheehan’s top three swimmers, Hacku placed in third in the 200-yard individual medley and ninth in the 100 freestyle at the CIAC Class M meet. He also swam legs on both the 200 (fourth) and 400 (third) freestyle relays.
Hacku advanced to the State Open in all four events and wound up breaking the school record in the 100 freestyle at 48.01.
That time has shades of Hacku’s 4.1 grade-point average, another reason why he was one of seven Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected at Sheehan for the 2013-14 winter season.
“Robby is an invaluable member of our team, a leader in and out of the water,” remarked swim coach Keith Cargan. “In the pool, he is the most versatile swimmer on the team.”
Other R-J Scholar-Athletes from Sheehan were as follows.
Jackie Duran, girls basketball: Duran maintained a GPA of 3.6 while playing forward for the Titans, who reached the second round of both the SCC and CIAC Class L tournaments.
The senior plays — and studies — like she practices.
“Jackie is an outstanding example of what a student-athlete and team player should be,” noted coach Mike Busillo. “It’s easy to see why she’s had such a great academic career by observing her in practice on a daily basis. She consistently pushes herself and her teammates to be better. She was an extremely important member of our program and will be missed.”
Paul Gozzo, ice hockey: It was quite a run this winter for the Titans. They won 15 games and reached the CIAC Division III quarterfinals, where they fell in triple overtime.
A key factor in helping Sheehan go the distance was Gozzo, a sophomore defender. He scored seven goals and set up 20 others. He had a plus-20 rating.
Here are even more telling stats: 50 blocked shots and a 3.9 GPA.
“Paul is a hard-working player during both practices and games. He is a team player, sacrificing his body by leading the team in both hits and blocked shots,” reported coach Dave Festa. “Paul is very disciplined, well-mannered and a role model off of the ice and in the classroom. He is a true leader.”
Justin Lange, boys basketball: Sheehan’s senior center is putting up big numbers. With a 3.9 GPA, he ranks No. 9 in the senior class.
The son of Roger and Carol Lange is a CAPT Scholar, CIAC Scholar-Athlete and repeat R-J Scholar-Athlete.
In the fall, he’ll be going to Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, where he’ll play football.
“Justin possesses a great work ethic and excels both academically and athletically. Due to hard work and determination, Justin has been able to play both varsity basketball and football while maintaining a high GPA,” commented hoop coach Joe Gaetano. “It has been a pleasure to coach Justin for the past three years. I wish him continued success as he enters into a new chapter of his life.”
Mackenzie Mendygral, girls indoor track: There are girls out there with better heights and times than Mendygral in pole vault and sprinting, but it’s unlikely there are many who surpass her in both.
“Mackenzie is a very versatile athlete. She runs the 300, pole vaults and is a key leg in our short sprint relays,” remarked track coach Charles Farley.
“She is very helpful in practice mentoring the younger athletes. She is one the athletes around whom we will build our spring season team.”
During the indoor season, the senior captain ran a 44.77 in the 300 meters and cleared 7 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault. She ran low 60s in the 4x400 relay and high 20s in the 4x200.
A High Honor student and member of the National Honor Society, Mendygral holds a 3.6 GPA, which ranks her 23rd in the senior class.
She is president of the Student Council and has received a Daughters of the American Revolution scholarship.
Devynn Shook, cheerleading: Here’s what Shook’s coach said about the senior captain’s approach to school and cheerleading:
“Devynn consistently pushes herself academically and continually advances her skill-set in her sport. She is a team leader and role model.”
The coach has an inside track on that observation. She’s Devynn’s mother, Tracey Shook.
With a 3.6 GPA, Devynn Shook earned SCC All-Academic honors for the fall season. She was also All-SCC for cheerleading and, on top of that, a NECA All-American.
Carl Verch, boys indoor track: The last time we checked in with Verch, after the cross country season, he was ranked No. 1 in the senior class.
That hasn’t changed. His GPA stands at 4.24.
Name the academic prize and Verch has probably won it. He’s earned a Southern Connecticut Superintendents’ Award, a Harvard Book Club award and a Bausch & Lomb Science award.
He’s also a Varsity Scholar, SCC Scholar-Athlete and SCC Scholar-Leader.
In track, the son of Chip and Diane Verch runs middle-distance events. He posts consistent times in the low 50s on both the 4x400 and sprint medley relays. He’s in the 2:10-2:12 range on the 4x800.
“Carl has matured into a fine middle-distance runner,” said track coach Charles Farley. “He is willing to compete wherever we need him. His quiet leadership has helped us to grow as a team this past winter.”