COLLEGE SIGNINGS: Hey, Bulldogs! Lyman Hall pair Bryant-bound

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WALLINGFORD —Lyman Hall showcased a pair of Division I athletes at a signing at the school this week.

Swimmer Elise Richardson and pole vaulter Chance DeCrescenzo, both seniors, inked with Division I Bryant University in front of friends and family at the Lyman Hall cafeteria.

Both earned partial scholarships to the Smithfield, Rhode Island school.

Richardson was All-State and All-SCC in each of her four years with the Trojans.

“She’s excited about going to Bryant,” LH swim coach Donna Neary said. “She’s looking forward to it. The new atmosphere will be good for her and she’s happy to be able to go to pursue her education and her career in the pool.”

Richardson owns school records in the 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle and 50 freestyle. She’s also on the record board with the school’s 200 medley relay team.

Richardson won back-to-back Class M state championships in the 100 backstroke as a junior and senior. She was also the Class M 100 freestyle champion as a junior.

“If someone can repeat, it’s a good accomplishment. She won the backstroke this year by two or three seconds,” Neary said. “I think she will fit in well at Bryant.”

Richardson also an SCC Scholar Athlete and was the SCC Division II Swimmer of the Year this winter.

“She loves to compete,” Neary said. “She loves to practice and she cheers for her teammates in practice. She gets the group going and is a pleasure to have a round. She’s pretty much always up and puts you in a good mood. It’s nice to be around someone with so much enthusiasm.”

Neary noted that Richardson always wanted to compete in diving and would end every practice going off the diving board.

College recruitment has been a year long process for Richardson. Bryant was her first visit and it set the bar high in her view. She was considering 10 schools.

“Everything fit perfectly for me at Bryant,” Richardson said. “It had everything I wanted. I want to major in business and academics are really important to me.

“But signing is a huge weight off my shoulders and a sigh of relief. This year has been a long race and now I’ve gotten to the finish line.”

Richardson signed her National Letter of Intent in front of her parents, Kate and Matt, as well as her grandmother, Carolyn Donlan. She also has two younger brothers,  Logan and Theo.

“My parents and grandmother are my biggest fans and always have been,” said Richardson, who also enjoys cooking and baking with her family. “I appreciate everyone that has helped me get to this point, including my family and Coach Neary.”

As for DeCrescenzo, he is a legacy in the pole vault. His father Lou was a All-American in the event in 1995 at Southern Connecticut State University. The two practice together in the backyard of their Wallingford home at least twice a day when the weather cooperates.

A year ago, DeCrescenzo had the clinching points when Lyman Hall won the Class M indoor track state championship in 2022. He captured the pole vault with a winning height of 11 feet, 6 inches and wound up fifth in the State Open at 12-6.

“I got a lot of attention after my junior year when I won states,” DeCrescenzo said. “I started getting some DMs and letters from schools. My coach was getting emails.”

DeCrescenzo took official visits to Springfield College, Post University, UMass-Lowell, SCSU and the University of Hartford before choosing Bryant. He hopes to study accounting.

This winter DeCrescenzo was the SCC champion with a vault of 13 feet, which tied the school record.

DeCrescenzo described this past indoor season as frustrating. He also missed his outdoor season of his junior year with a dislocated shoulder.

“Competing in college is a pretty big deal,” DeCrescenzo said. “I’ve had a rough high school career with four seasons in total because of COVID and my shoulder injury. I did enough in a short period of time. It means a lot to compete at the next level. My family and I are very happy I am getting this opportunity.”

His parents are Lou and Heather. He has a sister, Piper, and a brother, Lucas.

Chance now turns his attention to the outdoor season, where his personal best is 12-6. The school record is 13-6 and DeCrescenzo said he would like to hit 14 feet this spring.

DeCrescenzo grew up playing lacrosse. Once he got to high school, he decided to focus exclusively on the pole vault and that decision paid off.

“I was a big lacrosse guy and I had to choose between the two,” DeCrescenzo said. “I thought it would be smarter to stick with track. It was a hard decision to make at a young age.”

DeCrescenzo is a technically sound leaper and is focusing on improving his speed down the runway.

“He’s worked hard to be the athlete that he is,” LH outdoor track and field coach Ed Neilander said. “He’s not naturally fast or strong, and he’s worked to make himself a really good athlete.

“He’s also worked hard being a better student, and that will help him in life,” Neilander added. “Everything he has is from hard work, because it doesn’t come easy.”

Neilander was a teammate with Lou DeCrescenzo at SCSU. Neilander was also an All-American. He did it in the hurdles.

“We were roommates in college and sometimes I think Chance feels he has big shoes to fill, but all we ever ask of him is to be the best version of himself,” Neilander said. “His strength is his technical ability and he works with his dad a lot. He looks to improve on small things to get better and most kids don’t do that. As long as he sticks to that, he will keep improving.”

Lyman Hall indoor track coach Dave Palmer said DeCrescenzo was a captain this winter and that he is proud of his accomplishments on and off the track.

“He has earned everything,” Palmer said. “He’s had highs and lows, with the highlight being last year being a state champion. He was a big factor in that.

“He got hurt last spring and struggled for consistency this winter, but won at SCC’s to tie the school record. He didn’t do what he wanted at states, but he handled it like a leader. No one was more upset than he was that he didn’t perform the way he wanted, but he accepted it and moved on like a leader. I’m proud of him for that and I can’t wait to see what he does in the spring.”

“Not a lot of kids in the stat are vaulting as high as him,” Palmer added. “He has separated himself from his peers. He works hard and wants to be great.”

The Lyman Hall signing ceremony also featured several athletes who made commitments to Division III programs:

■Shea Barron: Elms College, basketball;■Callie Chordas: Keene State College, softball;■Vivian Pawloski: University of St. Joseph, volleyball;■Alana Peruti: Husson University, volleyball;■Morgan Stone: Albertus Magnus College, soccer;■Cassie Wentzell: Eastern Connecticut State University, swimming.

Also, Cally Foreman will continue her acrobatics and tumbling career at East Stroudsburg University, a Division II program in Pennsylvania.


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