Two Bristol Central seniors, gymnast Carissa Ouellette and basketball co-captain Isaiah Miller, have been selected for Athlete of the Week honors for area scholastic sports.
Ouellette, the daughter of Marci and Robbie Ouellette and the lone gymnast from her school, captured eighth place out of 45 entrants in the vault at the State Open in Southbury on Saturday, March 3.
She scored a 9.075 and was chosen an All-State pick for her efforts, while also placing 24th out of 42 participants in the floor exercise with her score of 8.50.
Her coach is Hal Rettstadt of Pomperaug High. Ouellette spent her freshman and sophomore years at the school before moving to Bristol and attending Central High.
“She’s a great kid, a very hard worker, and to make the State Open she had to really score well,” Rettstadt said.
By qualifying for the Open, he added, she will be part of the team representing Connecticut at the National High School Gymnastics Association’s Senior Showcase Invitational, for high school seniors only, at the Estero Recreation Center in Ft. Myers Beach, Fla., May 18-19. Connecticut is the defending champion in the event.
Rettstadt said it wasn’t easy for Ouellette the past two years, being separated distance-wise from her coaching team, but it all worked out.
“In the State Open, I was fortunate to compete on both vault and floor, which are my favorite events,” Ouellette said. “If you are top six in an event in the Opens you are able to qualify for New Englands, held in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, I tied for sixth on the vault and lost the tie breaker.
“Even though this discouraged me, I am still very grateful for the opportunity I had. Overall, it was a successful meet and I couldn’t have asked for a better competition day. I couldn’t have done this without the endless support from my teammates, coaches and family all season.”
Ouellette took up the sport at the age of two.
“I compete in the all-around, which is vault, bars, beam and floor,” Ouellette said. “My favorite events are the vault and floor, because I like how vault is fast and the feeling of when I flip during my vault, but I also like floor because I like to perform and work on increasing the difficulty of my tumbling passes.
“What I like about gymnastics is all the friendships and connections I have made with my teammates over the years. Because of these friendships I have formed, we have all become best friends. With this, I also like the competitiveness of gymnastics, but at the end of the day I like how we are able to come together and support one another. In addition to this, I am appreciative of all the lessons gymnastics has taught me. It has taught me responsibility, determination and perseverance. You never get bored doing gymnastics. There is always something new to learn and perfect.”
She hopes to continue her gymnastics career in college, while studying nursing and possibly specializing in pediatric oncology.
Miller, the son of Christopher and Dawn Miller, was one of four Bristol public high school boys to be selected all-conference in basketball.
He’s been with the school program all four years and has done his share to help bring the Rams an 18-6 record this winter in reaching the second round of Division II play. He scored 15 points in the final game of his high school career, a 63-56 loss to visiting Wilton on Friday, doing so on five 3-pointers.
“Isaiah is a leader both on and off the court,” Rams coach Tim Barrette said. “He is a leader in the school community and kids follow his lead often. In terms of basketball, he works hard at practice, never takes a play off, and demands so much of himself. It has been a pleasure coaching Isaiah for four years. He has appeared in over 65 varsity games here at Bristol Central. It is going to be hard to replace his leadership and integrity.
“He’s the biggest competitor I have ever coached in 11 years here,” Barrette said. “The bigger the game, the better Isaiah plays. It is a great feeling knowing you have Isaiah running your point in a big game, because he will give you everything he has and not be overwhelmed by the situation, which is what happened the other night. He was fantastic against Wilton.”
The Rams started out 1-3 and got things together after a team meeting at the end of December. From there, they went unbeaten the entire month of January.
“Heading into the CCC conference [tournament], we came off a loss to Wethersfield, which motivated us going into the tournament,” Miller said. “We won our first game of the tournament and made it into the semifinals, where we met up with [No. 1-ranked] East Catholic and things didn’t go our way.
“We knew we had a good seeding going into the state tournament, but against Wilton it killed us in the end. We made up the deficit, but we were tired.”
The Rams entered the final quarter against Wilton down by nine points, but went on a 17-0 run to take the lead. However, Wilton’s Antonio Brancato, who had 28 points in the game, came back strong and his clutch shots helped his team to the win.
Miller wasn’t happy with the season ending, but will always recall some of the best of his senior season.
“Overall, I wasn’t satisfied,” Miller said. “But I was happy with the improvement we made throughout the season.”
In addition to basketball, Miller competes in the javelin during the school’s outdoor season and plays outside linebacker for the football team, his favorite of the three sports.
Next year, Miller will be playing football for Wesleyan, while studying either economics or pre-law.
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.