BEST OF THE BUNCH: Hats off to our winners as we strike the set

MERIDEN — I knew Aaron Flaum and I were going to be OK with the “Best of the Bunch” video when we showed up at Abby Murphy’s house and her mom had the Humphrey Bogart hat.

Every event, be it as big as a wedding or as modest as a sports awards show, has its centerpiece, that one little detail that ties it all together.

We had that hat.

It gave me confidence. It would carry our opening spoof of “Casablanca” no matter how badly I mangled Bogart’s lines.

But then Abby nailed Ingrid Bergman and her tennis coach, Robin Thompson, unfazed by a fake mustache that defied adhesion, one-upped Claude Rains.

And we did have Roger Federer. And we had our 24 award winners.

For pure star power, the 2020 Record-Journal “Best of the Bunch” awards show did not lack.

We hope you enjoyed Thursday night’s “live” debut on Facebook. If you missed it, the video is available on

If you require immediate gratification, here’s the rollout of our winners, the Record-Journal’s “Best of the Bunch” for the 2019-20 scholastic year.

Overall ■Male Athlete of the Year: Billy Carr of Southington. All-State Top 26 linebacker in football and State Open wrestling champion at 182 pounds. He will play football at Springfield College.■Female Athlete of the Year: Olivia Dubuc of Sheehan. All-State in soccer and Class M state champion in the 600 meters in indoor track. She will play soccer at the University of Tampa.■Coach of the Year: Charles Farley of Sheehan track and field. Fifty-five-year coaching veteran who won SCC championship with girls team in indoor track.■Team of the Year: Sheehan football. Beat Bloomfield 64-33 in Class S final to win school’s first football state title since 1985.■Perseverance Award: James Rondini of Platt. All-State wrestler who returned from dislocated elbow to finish second in Class M. Third-winngest wrestler in Platt history, Rondini will wrestle at New England College.Academic■Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Matt Pettit of Lyman Hall. All-State hockey player is going to UConn.■Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Chloe LaBissoniere of Wilcox Tech. All-Conference volleyball and softball player and valedictorian of Wilcox Tech’s Class of 2020. She is going to Central Connecticut State.■Bongiovanni Insurance & Financial Award: Annelise Montouri of Maloney. Cross country runner was valedictorian of Maloney’s Class of 2020. She is going to UConn.■Wendi J. Kemp Scholarship: Haley Peacock of Platt. Swimmer and valedictorian of Platt’s Class of 2020. She will swim at Western New England University.Fall season■Football Players of the Year: Terrence Bogan and Jordan Davis of Sheehan. All-State Top 26 and Walter Camp First Team All-Connecticut running back and wide receiver. Bogan, also a New England track champion in the 100 meters, will play football at Trinity. Davis, also a State Open track champion and All-American in the javelin, will play football and compete in track at Southern Connecticut State.■Field Hockey Player of the Year: Jenna Sheehan of Southington. All-State forward will play at Coastal Carolina.■Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year: Brendan Mellitt of Cheshire. New England and State Open qualifier and Cheshire Park record-holder. He will run at Bucknell University.■Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Jackie Izzo of Southington. New England and State Open qualifier. The sophomore holds the Southington girls 5K record.■Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Zechariah Smith of Maloney. All-State forward and MVP of Senior Bowl.■Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Abigail Sowa of Southington. All-State junior midfielder has verbally commited to East Carolina University.■Girls Swimmers of the Year: Sophie Murphy and Julia Stevens of Cheshire. Murphy, a junior, repeated as State Open and class champion in 50 and 100 freestyles. Stevens, a senior, was State Open and Class LL 200 and 500 freestyle champion. Stevens will swim at Lehigh University.■Girls Volleyball Player of the Year: Lindsey Abramson of Cheshire. All-State outside hitter will play at Kenyon University in Ohio.Winter season■Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Garrett Molampy of Sheehan. All-SCC First Team guard and 1,000-point scorer. He will attend Roger Williams University.■Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Caitlyn Hunt of Sheehan. All-State and All-SCC First Team forward. A junior, Hunt was the area’s leading scorer.■Ice Hockey Player of the Year: Nick Maringola of Cheshire. The goaltender was the CHSCA Division II Player of the Year. He has signed with the New Hampshire Avalanche of the Eastern Hockey League.■Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year: Ryan Farrell of Cheshire. The junior was; State Open champion in the 600 meters as a junior.■Girls Indoor Track Athletes of the Year: Trinity Cardillo and Sydney Garrison of Southington. They are New England champions and school record-holders — Cardillo in the shot put, Garrison in the high jump; Cardillo will compete at Northeastern University, Garrison at the University of Hartford.■Boys Swimmer of the Year: Sam Hanke of Cheshire. SCC champion and school record-holder in 100 backstroke. He will swim at the University of South Carolina.■Wrestler of the Year: Luke Fuerstenberg of Platt. Class M state champion at heavyweight, Fuerstenberg holds the Platt record for pins in a season with 34. He’s enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Machinist Mate-Nuclear.

Congratulations to all our winners. As you can see, it’s an impressive group and a remarkable senior class. Only four winners will be back next year.

One last thank you goes out to our “Best of the Bunch” sponsors: Middlesex Community College, Bongiovanni Insurance and Financial, Central CT Transportation Movers & Storage and Miss Wendi J. Kemp.

Aaron and I would like to thank all our coaches and athletic staff members who made scheduling arrangments for our video shoot, especially Southington athletic director Steve Risser and Cheshire athletic secretary Susan Murphy, who had to round up sizeable groups.

A thank to the Dubuc family for an enjoyable afternoon on Mansion Road and a thank you to Mary and David Murphy of Southington, who allowed us to turn their driveway into a film set and their youngest daughter into Ingrid Bergman.

To all who play, to all who watch, to all who support high school sports, a tip of Humphrey Bogart’s hat. It’s already a beautiful friendship.



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