- Front Porch
MERIDEN — On the list of Wilcox Tech’s best golfers of all time, the name R.J. Kogut certainly belongs near the top.
Since his freshman year, over a span of 64 matches, Kogut manned the No. 1 slot for the Indians. Since his sophomore year, he’s been a team captain.
He’s been team MVP all four years, All-Conference three times and the city’s individual high school champ twice. This spring, he averaged 42.60 over nine holes and, 12 matches, medaled with the low round.
Kogut’s solid record went beyond the golf course. The son of Stephen and Leslie Kogut was vice president of the senior class and a member of the National Honor Society. He graduated with a 91.23 average.
A recipient of the First Tee Scholarship, Kogut will attend Central Connecticut State University in the fall.
“It has been a pleasure being able to coach R.J. these past four years. He is a proven leader not only on the course, but throughout the Wilcox community,” said Wilcox golf coach Steve Wodarski. “His induction into the National Honor Society as a sophomore is an indication of how hard he works in the classroom and his dedication to his school. It’s not just his low scores that I’ll miss, it’s his leadership and positive attitude that I’ll truly miss.”
Kogut was one of five Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected at Wilcox Tech for the 2014 spring season. The others are as follows.
Daniel Daly, baseball: Wilcox baseball coach Dave Cronin often seems like the master of the understatement. Turns out he’s just a poet at heart.
“Dan was always a ray of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy day,” Cronin said of Daly, an outfielder and designated hitter. “He was a real team leader.”
Indeed, Daly was a captain. He also batted .480 and drove in 22 runs.
Academically, he graduated with a 90 average. He was a member of the National Honor Society and was a Skills USA national finalist.
Kaelyn Johnson, softball: Johnson was an athlete for all seasons, playing volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and then four years of softball in the spring with coach Toni Gindel.
This softball season, the senior first baseman was named the team’s Most Improved Player (as she was in volleyball) and selected to the All-Constitution State Conference Second Team.
Her final academic average was 93.9.
Next up for the daughter of William and Michelle Johnson: the Coast Guard Academy.
“Kaelyn is one of the most unique athletes I have had the pleasure to coach,” said Gindel. “In practices, she was always focused on improving her athletic skills. Nothing ever seemed to distract her or upset her. She always had a smile on her face. Her positive and bubbly personality is going to be missed in the classroom and in the athletic department.”
Mitchell Lombardi, boys tennis: Lombardi was No. 4 on the courts and No. 5 in the class this spring for Wilcox.
At No. 4 singles, he went unbeaten at 6-0. As the No. 5 student in the Class of 2014, he signed off with a 101.6 average, a mark that includes the highest GPA in AP Physics and Electronics.
Mitchell’s resume includes a few items that are quite unique. He was the 2013 SkillsUSA Quiz Bowl state champion and the 2014 Governor’s Scholarship recipient.
Last season, he was deemed the Most Improved Player on the tennis squad.
“Mitchell has been a pleasure to have on the team,” said coach Sue Planinshek. “I have seen him progress as a player to become one of my more consistent athletes. He is courteous and kind and has contributed to the ‘fun factor’ on the team. He will be missed.”
Jessica Panora, girl tennis: Playing both doubles and No. 5 singles, Panora was a key piece in Wilcox Tech’s run to the CSC co-championship.
And she’ll be back. Panora signed off on her junior year with a 105.002 average. She is president of the National Honor Society and vice president of the Student Council.
The daughter of Claudio Panora is also a peer leader and participates in the Middlesex High School Partnership Program.
“Jessica is an absolutely excellent student who also does extremely well in athletics,” remarked coach Sue Perry. “She is very hard working, both on and off the courts, and is a leader in all she does. She is one of the most coachable and dedicated players who strives for excellence in all she does. She is involved in so many activities in the school as well as the community, and her ability to balance all she does is amazing.”
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