SOUTHINGTON — The indoor track program at Southington High School was loaded with talent this winter.
A number of program records fell. A number of athletes qualified for the State Open. A number competed at the Eastern State Invitational at the New York City Armory.
Only one guy on the boys team, though, earned the Coach’s Award, and that was Joe Verderame.
A second-year captain, Verderame was the ideal team leader, according to his coaches. He set the example with his work ethic and backed it up with performance. Verderame ran legs on the 4x400 and sprint medley relays that both set program records, finished third in Class LL and advanced to the State Open.
Verderame ran with Ryan Slesinski, Trevor Porter and Johnny Carreiro on both relays. He was also part of Southington’s record-holding 4x200 relay.
“Joe won our Coach’s Award this winter for his leadership and example,” remarked coach Connor Green. “Joe is one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve every coached. He has improved five seconds in the 400 meters since his freshman year. He is the best example we could ever put forward for a student-athlete in SHS track.”
With a 104.14 academic average that has earned him membership in the National Honor and National Spanish Honor societies, Verderame was also one of six Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes selected by coaches at Southington High School for the 2018-19 winter season.
All six will be invited to the Record-Journal’s annual “Best of the Bunch” awards brunch at the Aqua Turf Club on June 23. They’re also in the running for Record-Journal Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Adam Hunter, boys basketball: Averaging better than seven points and five rebounds a game, 6-foot-3 senior forward Adam Hunter had a big hand in Southington’s 13-10 season, which resulted in the CCC West-Colonial Division title and a trip to the second round of the Division II state tournament.
Hunter shot 55.3 percent from the field, which led the team. He also led the Blue Knights academically with a 103.532 average.
“One of the hardest workers to have ever been in our program,” noted coach John Cessario. “He was listed as the 11th man on our freshman roster when he first came aboard and he worked his way to being a starter for us senior year.
“He has been a solid representation as our team captain and will forever be remembered as an integral part of achieving our first CCC (divisional) title in 21 seasons.”
Hunter will be playing volleyball this spring for coach Lou Gianacopolos.
Kate Kemnitz, girls indoor track: It’s appropriate that Kate Kemnitz is Historian for Southington’s Class of 2019. She’s made considerable history running track and cross country for the Blue Knights.
Heading into the spring season, Kemnitz holds five individual school records and is part of eight relay records. Among the latest were the 3:05.97 she ran this winter in the 1000 meters as well as the 5:25.71 she ran in the 1600.
Kemnitz ultimately placed third in the 1000 meters at the Class LL meet and advanced to the State Open, where she finished ninth.
So far this year, Kemnitz has been named All-Record-Journal in cross country and indoor track. Throughout her career, she’s either been named Team MVP or won the Coach’s Award.
“Kate has personally rewritten the record books for SHS track; her work ethic is second to none,” noted coach Dan Dachelet. “She has been a driving force in the turnaround of the entire girls program. Prior to her arrival, the girls squad was at the bottom of the pack in track. It’s not just her personal accomplishments that have brought about this transformation, but also her aspirations to be an elite athlete.
“This, along with a select few other girls, have helped to change the culture of the program into one that demands hard work and excellence in competition.”
Chances are good Kemnitz will continue her career in college. Boston University and Northeastern have both been in touch.
She aspires to study Civil Engineering. A National Honor Society member, Kemnitz holds an academic average of 108.44.
Kristin Longley, girls basketball: Southington’s senior guard and captain averaged 24 minutes and 5.4 points this winter. She didn’t miss a game.
Academically, the honors student is carrying a 103 average.
“Kristin is one of the hardest working and dedicated athletes that I have had the opportunity to work with,” remarked Southington assistant coach Colleen Murphy. “She is committed in all aspects of life — school, work and athletics. She has been a great leader for the girls basketball team, especially for all of our young athletes. I am confident that Kristin will be successful in all aspects of her life.”
The next stop is Tunxis Community College, where Longley will major in Accounting.
Kian Siadat, boys swimming: Hands down, Kian Siadat has one of the most interesting resume items in this season’s batch of Record-Journal Scholar-Athletes — UConn Breakdance Club, summer 2018.
We see an “American Pie” sequel in there somewhere.
For good measure, Siadat plays in the SHS Small Ensemble.
By the pool, he’s a senior captain and diver, following his older brothers Ed and Jian through the Southington program. Kian qualified for the Class LL competition on three occasions and earned coach Evan Tuttle’s Coach’s Award for the 2018-19 season.
“He insisted on making his own mark on the program as a diver and, through hard work and determination and the impressive coaching of Jan Zagorski, turned himself into a multi-time LL state qualifier and finalist,” said Tuttle.
“More than just his success on the board, he has also been wholly devoted to our program since day one of freshman year. I cannot think of a single event, practice, fundraiser or team dinner that he has not attended in four years.
“The first step for any leader, including a captain, is to show up and be there for those who rely on you and look to you for guidance. This young man has done that day in and day out for his high school tenure. While there is not another Siadat to fill his shoes, there are plenty who have learned from his example and who will pick up where he leaves off.”
Siadat’s academic average stands at 94.345.
Mychele Vaillancourt, gymnastics: This senior captain capped off her Blue Knights’ career with high scores of 8.4 on vault, 7.85 on beam and 7.7 on floor exercise.
Vaillancourt, a club gymnast, was part of Southington’s Class LL state runner-up team in 2016.
Now she’s off to Keene State University, where she’ll major in Biology. Vaillancourt holds an academic average of 89.711.
“Mychele has made immense improvements in the sport of gymnastics as well as with her leadership skills,” noted Southington coach Cassidy Chamberland.
“She was the only senior on our gymnastics team and acted as a role model to the younger girls.
“She is dedicated to the team as well as her studeies and has a bright future ahead of her at Keene State University. Her passion and positive attitude will get her very far in life.”