SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: A’s for Z! Zawalich was in the vanguard for Cheshire



CHESHIRE — In a world governed by alphabetical order, we’ve got a hunch Kira Zawalich spent much of her educational career toward the back of the line.

Allow us to bring her front and center.

The senior captain was one of the top performers on Cheshire’s indoor and outdoor track teams, capable of competing in any race from the 100 meters to the 800.

She was also an exceptional hurdler, among the best in the SCC and in the state. This spring, in the 300 hurdles, she finished second in the SCC as well as in Class L and advanced to the State Open.

Also a Distinguished Honors student who was an All-SCC Academic for all four years of high school, Zawalich graduated with a grade-point average of 4.403.

She was involved in Lights of Hope and Best Buddies. She tutored elementary and middle school students.

Come the fall, Zawalich will be at North Carolina State, embarking on a major in biological sciences.

“Kira is an outstanding athlete and student. She sets a fine example for her teams both on the track and in the classroom as she takes her training academics seriously,” said track coach Barbara Hedden. “As a fully committed athlete to her team, we can always depend on her to give her utmost and do what ever the team needs.

“Kira is a pleasure to coach and an outstanding leader.”

Zawalich was one of 11 Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected by their coaches at Cheshire High School for the 2022 spring season. Here’s the full lineup.

■Riley Brabant, boys golf: Brabant was the senior captain of the team that finished second in the Southern Connecticut Conference and second in the CIAC Division I Tournament.

He graduated with a GPA of 4.24.

“Riley is a dedicated student-athlete who has made a positive impact on our team with his outstanding play on the golf course and his leadership as a team captain,” said coach Dan Lee.

■Cayla Dolan, girls tennis: This senior captain played doubles this spring for the Rams, teaming with Rachel Goldstein at the No. 3 slot.

“When Cayla is on the court, she really gives it her all, regardless of the level of her competition,” coach Pete Zacharias noted while the season was still under way. “She is a fighter, and she has served as a great captain to the team.”

Dolan’s GPA upon graduation was 3.824.

■Grace Downing, girls lacrosse: Bookending a senior year in which she was an All-SCC First Team setter of the volleyball team, Downing was a member of the defensive corps that backboned Cheshire’s 13-6 run to the CIAC Class L quarterfinals.

Downing was a captain of both teams for good reason.

“Grace is our vocal leader on the field; her voice is very important to us,” said lacrosse coach Dan Warburton. “Grace is a hard worker; she leads by example. It’s been my pleasure to coach Grace these last several years.”

Senior class vice president, Downing capped her scholastic career with a 4.526 GPA. The National Honor Society inductee was a member of the Student Senate and Science Editor of the school newspaper.

■Maddie Falcone, girls golf: Miss Falcone was senior captain of a squad that enjoyed another exceptional spring on the golf course.

The catch is, Falcone was new to the sport, yet still emerged as a leader on a team that went 14-4.

“This season, when we found the need to name a new captain, we found our answer in Maddie Falcone and her co-captain,” remarked coach John Williams. “Maddie has led our team this season with exceptional organizational skill. Her enthusiasm was infectious.”

Maybe that’s because Falcone is also a cheerleader. With her 4.471 GPA, she was an All-SCC Academic for four years in that sport and an inductee into the National Honor Society.

She earned the 2021 Superintendent’s Award, volunteered to teach reading and writing, and was a four-year member of DECA.

■Emily Grayson, softball: Emily Grayson signed off on her scholastic career making two straight trips to the Scholar-Athlete spotlight. She was also selected in basketball.

A second baseman in softball, Grayson and the Lady Rams went 15-5 and earned the No. 12 seed in the Class LL state tournament.

A National Honor Society who consistently took Advanced Placement classes, Grayson graduated with a 4.410 GPA.

“Emily seeks out excellence in all areas of her life — in the classroom, on the field and with her family,” said softball coach Kristine Drust. “She is an amazing athlete, student and person.”

■Joshua Koppel, boys track & field: Cheshire boys track’s top scholar for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, senior thrower and team captain Josh Koppel signed off with a 4.1 GPA, which made him a two-time All-SCC Academic and two-time R-J Scholar-Athlete in his senior year.

He earned awards of excellence in English and Environmental Science — recognitions reflected in his extracurricular activities. Koppel was co-president of the Geography Club, treasurer of the Conservation Club, and student liaison for the Coalition for Sustainable Cheshire.

“Joshua has continually improved in both his athletic and leadership ability as the seasons have progressed,” noted track coach Allen Dvarskas. “As captain, he has gone above and beyond to make sure the season runs smoothly. He is truly a solid human being with a desire to do not only what is needed, but what will help everyone get to the next level.”

■Marco Parete, boys lacrosse: Like Cheshire’s girls lacrosse team, the R-J Scholar-Athlete selection for boys lax is a senior defender, and that’s Marco Parete, who is on his way to Boston College after graduating with a GPA of 4.51.

It was a tremendous senior sports year for Parete. He was a captain of the soccer team, which made a magical run to the Class LL state championship game, and he was part of the lacrosse team that reached the Class M semifinals.

Combined, those teams went 31-10-2, and it shouldn’t be surprising they featured a player like Parete.

“Marco is not our best player by any means; he will be the first to communicate that,” remarked lacrosse coach Mike Devine. “But his commitment to the program, his attention to detail and his willingness to put his teammates and the team above himself is amazing.

“He got hurt his junior season, which set him back quite a bit, but he never missed a practice or a game, was asked to step into a new position and took it on with a great attitude,” Devine added. “He is a tremendous kid and person.”

The All-SCC Academic earned a St. Michael’s Book Award for Academic Achievement and Social Conscience. Parete is also a volunteer youth soccer and lacrosse coach.

■Ethan Rosenthal, baseball: After lining up at wide receiver in football and making 14 catches for 136 yards, Ethan Rosenthal lined up in center field for the baseball team this spring and batted .341.

Rosenthal volunteered for Yale University clinical trials and with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, as well as with Lights of Hope.

Academically, Rosenthal graduated with a GPA of 4.168.

“Ethan has been in our program the last four years,” noted baseball coach Mike Lussier. “He is a hard worker both on and off the playing field.”

■Tyler Tan, boys tennis: After graduating as Valedictorian of Cheshire High School’s Class of 2022 with a staggering 5.031 GPA, Tyler Tan is on his way to Yale University.

Tan was, through and through, a leading academic for the Rams. He was co-captain of the Science Bowl Team, participated in Mathletes and served as vice president of the Scope Tutoring Club, which worked with elementary school students.

Tan was inducted into both the National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society.

A musician, he plays violin as well as viola. In tennis, he played No. 3 singles.

At Yale, Tan will major in Computer Science and Music.

■Andrew Wang, boys volleyball: Andrew Wang was the jack of all trades for Cheshire volleyball this season. The senior captain was both outside hitter and defensive specialist for a team that went 16-8 and reached the SCC conference finals and Class M state quarterfinals.

He was named All-SCC First Team after posting 268 serve receives, 71 digs, 62 kills and 44 aces on the year.

“Andrew is one of the best all-around players on our team,” said coach Sue Bavone. “Andrew is an unselfish player who will do whatever is necessary for his teammates to be successful. His strong work ethic is seen not only in volleybal,l but also in the classroom, where Andrew has excelled.”

Clearly, he did. Wang graduated with a 3.922 GPA.

Also a strong diver, Wang qualified for the conference and state meets during the swimseason. He played violen in the CHS orchestra.



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