MERIDEN — Wilcox Tech’s unique niche in the area scholastic sports scene is riflery, and a unique member of that squad is its senior leader, Leslie Melenciano.
Coming off a year in which she won the team’s Most Improved Shooter award, Melenciano maintained her acumen this winter. She consistently scored in the top five in every match.
More than that, Melenciano is one of those “glue” players who holds a team together.
“Leslie is a valuable asset to the team. She is always ready to compete and always puts the team first — a true teammate,” said Wilcox riflery coach Mark Damaschi. “She also is the team's communicator for any announcements needed throughout the season.
“Leslie is also very coachable. She’s always exceeding coaches' expectations.”
Along with riflery, Melenciano plays volleyball and is active in the Skills USA program.
A High Honors student, her academic average stands at 96.968.
“Aside from the team, her teachers and instructor always have great things to say about her,” Damaschi remarked. “Excellent quality of work and a pleasure to have in class.”
Melanciano was one of four Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected by their coaches at Wilcox Tech High School for the 2019-20 winter season. The others were as follows.
■Mary Caires, cheerleading: Felicia Williams has a good take on Mary Caires. She coaches the sophomore in cheerleading and also teaches her in Honors Algebra 2.
She can attest to her capabilities in both.
“Mary is very coachable,” Williams remarked. “It is a pleasure to watch and listen to how well she comprehends mathematical concepts.”
A High Honors student, Caires posted a 100.698 average for the most recent quarter.
She participates in the Skills USA program and is in her second year with the cheerleading squad.
“Mary is a valuable asset to the team,” Williams said. “She is always ready to learn new cheers. She’s always willing to attempt new stunts with a smile, but without hesitation. She makes cheerleading stunts appear seamless. She generates so much excitement for the team just watching her move flawlessly.”
■Yarelis Carrero, girls basketball: This young lady hopes to pursue a career in the U.S. Air Force. For now, she’s in her junior year, carrying a 3.5 GPA and leading the basketball team as an underclass captain.
“She was highly organized, intuitive and settling on a team of very inexperienced players,” coach Rob Janiga said of his second-year starter.
“Yarelis was a tireless worker and solid defender,” Janiga added. “She was asked to play multiple positions for the benefit of the team. We will be looking for a greater offensive threat next year with continued leadership qualities.”
Carrero is active off the court. She’s an officer in Skills USA, participates in Unified Sports and volunteers with Christmas in the Village blood drives and at senior centers.
■Nathan DeMaio, boys basketball: Nate DeMaio was the man at the point this season for Wilcox Tech, which returned to the CTC conference and CIAC Division III state tournaments.
DeMaio played in all 22 games for the 8-14 Tribe. He averaged 7.5 points and dished out a team-high 50 assists. He swiped 35 steals on defense.
DeMaio was a shrewd player. No surprise. He’s a coach’s son — his dad Jeff DeMaio coaches Guilford — and he holds a 96.285 academic average that ranks him No. 18 in the senior class.
“Nate has been a pleasure to work with these past few years,” remarked Wilcox coach Randy Farkas. “I always loved his analysis of other teams and players, with his insights on how we should handle them. He is already thinking like a coach and at some point he will make a good one.
“At five-foot-four, he has to work extra hard on a basketball floor to be successful and it's obvious he puts that same effort into his school work,” Farkas added. “He is a wonderful student-athlete and we are going to miss him.”