This week’s “Athlete of the Week” selections are both repeat honorees, having been picked for the recognition during previous seasons. They are Bristol Eastern senior Mike Barrett and Bristol Central senior Shy-Ann Whitten.
Barrett, the son of LaToya and Michael Barrett, is the male AOW after winning the 160-pound title at the Class L wrestling championships this past weekend at Bristol Central, successfully defending his 2017 state title at the same weight.
Barrett was joined by teammates Diego Fernandez (145), Justin Marshall (152) and Trinidad Gonzalez (195) in winning individual crowns for the Lancers, team winners of the championship for the second straight year.
“It means a lot,” Barrett said after his team won. “We broke history at our school. We’re the first team to go undefeated two years in a row and win back-to-back state championships. Last year we had three state champions and this year we had four. We’re getting better and better each year.”
His coach, Bryant Lishness, only had good things to say about Barrett.
“He is definitely one of my most athletic kids I’ve coached,” Lishness said.
“He’s a very confident wrestler, one of those guys who wants the challenge. The bigger the stage, the competition, the bigger he wants it. He likes the challenge.”
That next challenge will come at the State Open this weekend in New Haven. Last year, Barrett finished third at 160-pounds.
“We haven’t gotten our seeds yet, but I hope to be going in as No. 1 and go all of the way,” Barrett said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work this season and I don’t see anyone who has beaten me.”
In getting to this point as possibly the best in the state in his weight class, he also credits his coach’s input.
“I think he’s the best coach I’ve had through youth and high school,” Barrett said. “He lets me find my way, but also coaches me. He’s just a good all-around guy.”
He’s gained many benefits from wrestling.
“It’s made me more of a man, because there are a lot of things you have to overcome in wrestling,” Barrett said. “I set really high goals in wrestling and it teaches you to set real high goals in life.”
For the next school year, Barrett is contemplating prep school. Long term, he would like to open up a gym and have his own wrestling club.
Whitten, the daughter of Deanna Whitten and Leeshwan Bartell, gets the AOW nod for her second place finish at the Class L indoor track state championships last weekend at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
She topped 5-feet-0 in the high jump, as did the champion, Hall’s Taryn Smith, who reached the height with fewer jumps. Whitten also placed ninth in the long jump in reaching 15-3.
Her senior teammate, Meghan Curtis, who finished fourth at the meet in the 600 meters, had nice things to say about her classmate.
“Shy-Ann is a hardworking and amazing athlete,” Curtis said. “She’s always determined to do her best and she’s an inspiration to all the younger athletes.”
Her head coach, Kevin Taylor, has called her a dynamic athlete.
“Jumping is tough because you only get three attempts to clear a height,” Taylor said. “It isn’t like some races, where there’s lap after lap and multiple chances to make a move. She has three jump attempts at each height and with every failed attempt the pressure mounts more, but she remains calm and gets the job done.”
He added that she’s also a talented sprinter and a versatile athlete, who is a pleasure to coach.
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.