Cross country runner Matt Roy of Bristol Central and Briana Senese of the St. Paul girls soccer team are the “Athlete of the Week” picks for area scholastic sports. Both Bristol residents, Roy is the son of Robert and Susan Roy and Senese is the daughter Gina and John Senese.
A senior co-captain, Senese was one of Jim Husbands’ leaders this fall in producing the school’s best season yet in the sport with its 15-4-3 record and reaching the Class S semifinals before the Falcons lost to No. 1-ranked Old Lyme by a score of 4-2 last week.
“Briana has been the heart and soul of the St. Paul team for the last four years,” Husbands said. “Her competitiveness and her love of the game can be contagious and she has been the driving force on helping everyone get better. It’s been a pleasure coaching her and she will certainly be missed next year. It’s hard to imagine coming to practice and not seeing her on the field.”
Senese, a center-midfielder, meanwhile reflected on both her final game and her high school career.
“It was sad,” Senese said. “Old Lyme had good chemistry and they were competitive. I can see why they were in the championship the last four years. I was happy I scored with Kendall [Davis] in our last games as captains. We had the best season we ever had here. I’m really proud of the team and all we’ve accomplished this year.”
Senese added she has been playing soccer since she was little and plays for FSA in the winter.
“I have a passion for it,” Senese said. “I can’t see myself not playing it. I like how competitive and aggressive it is. I give one hundred percent when I’m on the field.”
As far as continuing the sport, Senese believes she’s most likely going to play for the University of Tampa with her studies encompassing allied health, physical education. But before she does this, it’ll FSA this winter and St. Paul lacrosse in the spring.
The selection of Roy, senior captain of coach Tamara Stafford’s boys cross country team, comes on the heels of another solid season and four-year running career for his school. He was the team’s No. 2 runner this past season and No. 1 as a junior. He runs cross country and both indoor and outdoor track in having received recognition in each of the sports.
“Matt has steadily improved as a long distance runner, but more importantly he leads by example,” Stafford said. “He works hard in a quiet but efficient way. The young runners watch and learn from him.
“I am very proud of Matt’s accomplishments on the cross country course, but I am even more prouder of him as a leader. It is my true belief that our boys team is as strong as it is and will become even stronger, because of athletes like Matt Roy who have helped to build this program.”
Asked about the highlight of this fall, Roy said that it was winning the team title at the Wickham Invitational, competition with some of the best schools in the state.
“It was my favorite, because we won the whole thing,” Roy said. “I finished second on the team. It wasn’t my best time there, last year’s time was. It felt good winning as a team, it was a good feeling.”
As far as the season went as a whole, that was good, too.
“We had the best team in the four years I have run, more like family,” Roy said. “Mark Petrosky was getting first in most of the meets and we have a strong freshman in Nate DeAngelo, who helped us in the Class L’s. We had a strong top five (runners).”
Running under 18 minutes in high school cross country is an accomplishment that most runners don’t experience, but Roy did this fall.
“My best time at (the new) Rockwell (Park course) is 17:54 and it was this year,” Roy said. “Mark Petrosky holds the record and he’s a pretty good friend and I think indoor and outdoors will be competitive between us.”
The captain added that he started running in sixth grade and when sports was cancelled during his middle school years, he ran intramurals and then went straight to varsity competition for Central as a freshman. When asked what he likes about running he said, “I kind of like the feeling when you get a better time.”
And with his experience in long distance running, he leaves some advice for the up and comers.
“Don’t get discouraged by bad races, because you never know if you are going to have one, two or more during the season,” Roy said. “You have to keep pushing yourself, because you will get through it.”
As far as his plans for the 2018-2019 school year, it’s going to be college. He’s unsure of his studies at this point, but is contemplating English and would also run for the school if possible. He’s looking at UConn and if he gets there, he may not be able to run, because it’s Division I. For now, It’s all up in the air.