SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: The ‘Tiger’ of Platt has the write stuff

SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: The ‘Tiger’ of Platt has the write stuff



MERIDEN — We should probably have Matthew “Tiger” Smokes do his own Record-Journal Scholar-Athlete writeup.

He does quite a bit of writing. He’s been nominated for the Hicks Essay Contest. He even composed a play that’s due to be published.

A year from now he’ll be studying sports communications in college.

Where? We’ll see. So far, Smokes has been accepted by Siena, Bryant, Norfolk State, Husson, Elms, LeMoyne and lona.

For now, with his 3.7 grade-point average, Smokes is the Platt boys basketball team’s R-J Scholar-Athlete for the 2021 season.

The senior guard made All-Conference for both academics and athletics. He hit for 14 points in three games this season as the Panthers went 5-9 and advanced to the CCC Bracket 3 semifinals.

“Tiger is a great kid and teammate. He is always positive both on and off the court,” said coach Shawon Moncrief. “The Platt basketball staff will miss him.”

Also named R-J Scholar-Athletes by their coaches at Platt High School for the 2021 winter season were basketball player Wallica Bailey and swimmer Mehdi Moumen.

■Wallica Bailey, girls basketball: This senior guard returned to the All-Conference team and earned All-Record-Journal recognition after averaging 11.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.0 steals a game.

You probably already knew that.

Here, perhaps, is something you did not: Wallica Bailey is a High Honors student who holds a 3.5 GPA and will pursue a biochemistry track into nursing in college. So far, she’s been accepted by Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.

Bailey has received an Award of Excellence in English. She tutors freshmen on the Platt girls basketball team and is a youth sports camp volunteer.

“Wallica has been such a great kid to coach since she has been a part of our program her freshman year,” said coach Tina Gonyea. “She has been my most consistent and hardworking kid daily. She gives it her all in every game, both ends of the floor, no matter what the score is, winning or losing, no matter what the situation is.  And she is usually doing it all with a smile!

“As a coach, you wish that every kid could/would be like that. She has a terrific attitude and work ethic, and these traits are going to help her with her future endeavors in becoming successful at what ever it is she chooses to do.” 

■Mehdi Moumen, boys swimming: Still only a sophomore, Mehdi Moumen was the winningest individual swimmer on the Meriden Co-op this winter.

Moumen captured 12 races in six different events and swam legs on nine first-place relays. He was part of the 400 freestyle relay that set a Co-op record of 3:28.76 in placing third in CCC Pod D and fifth overall across the entire Central Connecticut Conference.

Individually, Moumen was fourth in CCC Pod D in both the 50 freestyle (23.45) and 100 butterfly (56.21). Those times placed him 11th overall in the CCC in the 50 free (out of 176 swimmers) and 10th out of 71 in the butterfly.

Academically, he’s got a GPA of 3.0.

“Mehdi is a very talented young swimmer who has yet to reach his full potential. The next few years should be very exciting for him,” said coach Ed Heath. “His love of the sport and dedication will only open many doors for him.

“Mehdi brings a lot of enthusiasm and fun to the pool, which is infectious to his teammates; there is never a dull moment,” Heath added. “The future looks very bright for him.”


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