MERIDEN — Here it is, our most stocked field.
For all the success of our teams in 2019-20, for all our champions, for all our All-State players, no “Best of the Bunch” category is more loaded than Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
We have seven finalists. Four of them were valedictorian of their class. The three others will start college on medical tracks of study.
If this were March Madness, it would be one hellacious bracket.
One of these girls will be named the Record-Journal’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and receive a $500 scholarship from the R-J.
Another could very well take home the $1,000 Bongiovanni Insurance & Financial Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Specializing in Finance Award.
I wish I had more to dish out.
I’ll spare the sales pitch. That’s not my forte. I’ll just say if you’re a prospective sponsor following this series, thinking about getting involved in our awards event, reading at a time when the country seems on the verge of collapse, remember where the promise for a better future resides. In young people such as these.
■Lindsey Abramson, Cheshire: You just heard about Lindsey Abramson. She’s a finalist for Player of the Year in volleyball, a sport in which she was All-State as a junior and a senior.
Abramson came out of volleyball season with a 4.33 GPA. She, like all of our finalists, was her school’s CAS-CIAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Also a softball player, Abramson participated in Best Buddies and Peer Advocates. She’s going to Kenyon College in Ohio, where she’ll major in Biomedical Engineering on a Pre-Med track and play volleyball.
■Hailey Bruneau, Lyman Hall: Hailey Bruneau was a standout volleyball player, a standout basketball player and an R-J Scholar-Athlete in both.
A 4.06 GPA coming out of basketball season put her in the Top 20 of Lyman Hall’s Class of 2020.
Bruneau’s academics were diverse. She won a Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award. She won an Excellence in Spanish Award.
Next up is the University of Rochester in upstate New York, where Bruneau will major in Biology on a Pre-Med track and play basketball.
■Marley Esch, Sheehan: Marley Esch grew up playing soccer in Wallingford and wound up a senior captain and All-SCC Second Team defender on the Sheehan squad that reached the 2019 Class L semifinals.
An equally formative experience? Wearing braces.
Esch said her orthodontists were so comforting and their work so successful that, when those braces came off, she knew what she wanted to do when she got older. What job could be better than making kids happy?
Esch shared that story after she was named R-J Scholar-Athlete last fall with a 4.18 GPA that had her ranked No. 5 in Sheehan’s Class of 2020, which she served as Class Secretary.
All-SCC Academic throughout her high school career, Esch also swam and ran track.
She’s on her way to UConn. That’s where the road to a career in orthodontics begins in earnest.
■Chloe LaBissoniere, Wilcox Tech: Steve Wodarski, math teacher and athletic director at Wilcox Tech, recalls the day nearly four years ago when Chloe LaBissioniere, then in eighth grade, came in to take a math placement exam.
She was the first one to arrive. Nearly five hours later, she was the last one to leave.
No doubt, Miss LaBissoniere is a perfectionist.
It’s that sort of approach that produced Wilcox Tech’s valedictorian of 2020.
A Peer Leader and a member of the Student Council, a standout in both volleyball and softball, LaBissoniere compiled an academic average of 104 in Wilcox Tech’s construction management program.
She is heading to Central Connecticut State University and considering a career in physical education.
■Sarah Meade, Southington: Being valedictorian of Southington High’s Class of 2020 made Sarah Meade an obvious finalist for Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
She should also be considered for the Perseverance Award we’ll be giving out this year.
Plagued by a chronic shoulder injury, Meade swam through pain last fall in order to serve as senior captain. She helped Southington’s 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays reach the State Open and set program records.
Meade came out of swim season with a 113.795 academic average.
Along the way to her No. 1 class ranking, Meade was recognized for having the highest GPA in English (I, II, and AP Literature and Composition), Social Studies (Civics, World History) and Earth Science and for Outstanding Achievement in Business Education.
You can add the 2019 Harvard Club of Southern Connecticut Book Award to the resume. Meade was also the Latin representative for the World Language Honor Society and on the executive committee of the Southington STEPS Youth Council.
■Annelise Montouri, Maloney: By posting a 5.0 in the first quarter of her senior year, Annelise Montouri raised her cumulative GPA to 4.71. That catapulted her to No. 1 in Maloney’s Class of 2020.
At the same time, Montouri was wrapping up a four-year cross country career with the Spartans. The crowing touch was a trip to the Nike Cross Country Northeast Regionals in Wappinger Falls, N.Y.
Montouri now heads east to UConn, where she’ll major in Finance. She’s already got a good sense for the field. Montouri was class treasurer.
Montouri was also a student ambassador at Maloney and a member of the Italian Honor Society.
■Haley Peacock, Platt: Our final Female Athlete of the Year candidate was also a valedictorian. You will note, Haley Peacock makes it a trifecta. All three Meriden valedictorians for 2020 are young women.
Peacock was also a senior captain of the 2019 Meriden Co-op swim team and capped her four-year career in the pool by going to the Class L state meet with the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
A future Biomedical Engineering major, Peacock is a Rensselaer Medal and a Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award winner.
A final note: She gives violin lessons as a teacher’s assistant.
The Record-Journal Girls Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be announced on Thursday, June 18, during the airing of the “Best of the Bunch” awards video on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. The video will also be available on myrecordjournal.com after that initial airing. Finalists in the various awards categories will be unveiled now through June 18. Up next: Boys Basketball.