Senior two-sport standouts from Bristol public high schools have earned Athlete of the Week honors for area scholastic sports.
They are tri-captain Ashley Watson of coach Steve Gaudet’s Bristol Central girls basketball team and Justin Marshall, a 152-pound competitor and team leader for Bristol Eastern wrestling coach Bryant Lishness.
The pick of Watson, the daughter of Chris and Laura Watson, comes during a season in which she is once again a team stalwart.
Watson poured in 19 points as the Rams got their second win of the season, beating visiting Hartford Public Thursday. She has been an AOW basketball pick now for three straight winters.
“Ashley has been a starter for all four years here at Bristol Central High School,” Gaudet said. “Her work ethic and willingness to do whatever the team needs are two incredible attributes that she has possessed throughout her career. She is averaging close to 10 rebounds a game and is one of our leading scorers this season. What has pleased me the most this year is her growth as a leader. She has been an outstanding captain this year, and is truly someone that our younger players can look up to.”
In getting the Hartford Public win, Bristol Central (2-13) doubled its win total from last season.
“It was a good confidence booster for our team,” Watson said. “I’m proud of how our team worked together. We’re a team of hard workers. I see how hard everyone works at practice, so it was good to finally get a win.”
What’s also nice for Watson, who averages in the vicinity of six points per game, is that she is starting for the Rams along with her sister, Ella, the team’s point guard as a freshman.
“It’s fun,” Watson said. “We work well together, because we are sisters. She’s able to get me the ball a lot easier - she sees things that other people don’t see. If she builds up her confidence a little bit, it’ll help the team a lot.”
Taking part in both basketball and lacrosse in high school, Watson started playing the sports at very different times.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was real little,” Watson said. “My whole family plays it, too, and that includes my younger sister, Brooke. She plays at Chippens Hill Middle School. I like how basketball is a team sport, we’re all family [at Bristol Eastern]. Lacrosse, I started my sophomore year and since I started so late it was hard to pick up, but with my background in basketball I picked it up. The offensive and defensive plays are like basketball.”
As far as the school year goes starting next fall, Watson will be attending Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, a Division II school where she will be play lacrosse and take studies surrounding accounting.
The choice of Marshall was easy. He remains undefeated this season after taking top honors in his weight class at the CT Challenge held at Southington High this past weekend.
Coach Lishness is glad to have Marshall, a grappler who reached the coveted 100 career win plateau at the Bristol Central Invitational earlier this month.
“Justin is a wonderful kid to coach,” Lishness said. “He works hard and focuses on doing the little things right and it’s those little things that can make a big difference in this sport. Technically, he is up there with the best kids I have coached at Bristol Eastern.
“This year he has some high aspirations and is more focused than I have ever seen him. There is no limit to what he can accomplish on the mat when he is focused like this.”
The Lancers have won back-to-back Class L championships coming into this season and are currently ranked as the No. 2 team in the state.
“We have a really good team that can make it in the states,” Marshall said. “We’re looking to make it three in a row, but it’s going to be tougher than the last two years. We have to win to the best of our ability at all times.”
For individual goals, the first is to defend his Class L 152-pound crown and second is to win the State Open, where he finished a respectable sixth in as a junior.
Marshall’s second sport is football and he’s definitely left his mark in that, too. An all-conference pick this past season, he’s third all-time in career passing yards among city public school players with 3,268.
And, it’s all family. Marshall’s father played football and took part in track at Bristol Eastern during the mid-1980s, while his mother, Maureen O’Keefe before getting married, a high school classmate of her husband, performed in volleyball, basketball and track for the Lancers. Ironically, she was a sports teammate at Bristol Eastern with Laura Lishness, whose brother is her son’s wrestling coach.
Marshall’s plans for next year are to wrestle in college, while studying criminal justice.
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.