Despite weather that hasnâ€™t been cooperative, area high school sports teams have begun their spring schedule and that includes both Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern, who are represented by this weekâ€™s Athlete of the Week picks.
The two seniors receiving the honors are track competitor Shy-Ann Whitten of Bristol Central and Bristol Easternâ€™s Josh Nohilly, an outfielder and relief pitcher for his schoolâ€™s baseball team.
Whitten, the daughter of Donna Whitten and Leeshwan Bartell, captured first place in the triple jump on Saturday with a leap of 31-11.25 at the Bloomfield Invitational. A multi-talented athlete, Whitten is the most successful of coach Kirara Bonilla-Jisinoâ€™s returning girls track performers.
â€śShy-Ann has developed into a great leader this year who is willing to make sure the team is working at its best,â€ť Bonilla-Jisino said. â€śThis is one of the reasons that she was named captain. Shy-Ann is really working hard since battling a knee injury late in the indoor season.
â€śShe is looking to continue her success in the jumping events. Last outdoor season, she placed second in the Class L state meet in the triple jump and fifth in the high jump. Sheâ€™s a four-year member of the team looking to get back to the State Open and New England championships this year.â€ť
Whitten talks about the Bloomfield meet.
â€śI got first overall, but it wasnâ€™t a good distance, so I still have work to do,â€ť Whitten said. â€śI was fourth in the high jump with 4-6. It was a bit chilly that day and our 4x100 relay was fifth.â€ť
As far her goals this spring, itâ€™s to make the New Englands again and to go to the nationals for the first time, likely in the triple and high jump events. She shares the Bristol Central high jump record for girls (5-4) with Lauren Bossi.
â€śI want to be consistent at it [in reaching that height more regularly],â€ť Whitten said.
Whittenâ€™s last AOW nod came only six weeks ago, when she earned it in indoor track. She had just gotten a second place finish in the high jump at the Class L indoor championships. She topped 5-0, as did Hallâ€™s Taryn Smith, who took first because of fewer attempts at the height.
Among the highlights of her scholastic career, besides the recent indoor season, was last springâ€™s outdoor season. Following it, she was named All-Press for her success, including finishing second in the triple jump with a leap of 34-10.25 and fifth in the high jump at 4-8, both at the Class L outdoor meet. She followed that with a fifth place in the triple jump at the State Open (35-3.75). She has also run on school relay teams, which have been some of the best in school history.
She credits school jumping coach Kevin Taylor, a former two-time record-holder for the Rams, for his input.
â€śHe doesnâ€™t think Iâ€™ve reached my potential,â€ť Whitten said. â€śHe told me that he taught me everything I know, so I have to work on my potential. Heâ€™s always critiqued me and given me something to work on.â€ť
Her plans for next year include competing in track at SCSU while studying to be a social worker.
Nohilly, the son of Lori and Mike Nohilly, is a quad captain for coach Mike Giovinazzoâ€™s Lancers. He played one of the key roles in Easternâ€™s season-opening 12-4 victory over host Plainville on Thursday, smashing a grand slam late in the game to give the Lancers a comfortable cushion.
The AOW pick was pleased with the win.
â€śI think everything went right,â€ť Nohilly said. â€śWe have a strong core [of captains] - me, Mac Goulet, Cory Fradette and Dave Bernier - because we push each other. But most importantly, we push the younger kids to get better. It was a close game and Jagger [Duquette] pitched his heart out, and I wanted to give him some insurance runs and we did.â€ť
He added that with this win, Eastern is looking to improve over the 2017 season.
â€śLast year we struggled with a bunch of new guys,â€ť Nohilly said. â€śThis year weâ€™re looking bright. We have a good bunch of guys who will step up. We were 10-11 overall, and weâ€™re 1-0 now. A goal of ours is to win the conference and make a deep run in the [state] tournament.â€ť
Nohilly added that he enjoys the pressure of the game, playing the outfield and being on the mound.
â€śIâ€™m a relief pitcher, you can say,â€ť Nohilly said. â€śMy favorite part of the outfield is chasing down fly balls in the corners and the best part of relief is getting my brothers out of pitching jams.â€ť
He also said that heâ€™s benefited from the game in different ways.
â€śItâ€™s given me the ability to express myself other than being behind a desk for six hours,â€ť Nohilly said. â€śIt allows me to be free. I love the competition, especially the tight games, and sports has made me the person I am today.â€ť
He added that the coaching staff - head coach Giovinazzo, Steve Gaudet, John Benoit and Steve Deveau - has been great.
Next year Nohilly will be at Westfield State in Massachusetts, where heâ€™ll continue his baseball career while studying accounting.
Contact Bob Montgomery by calling 860-973-1808 or at .