Senior captains from neighboring towns take the spotlight as the Bristol Press â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť picks for area scholastic sports. They are St. Paul cross country runner Kailyn Bielecki and Dante Costantiello of the Bristol Eastern boys soccer team.
The choice of Bielecki, the daughter of Mark and Nicole Bielecki of New Britain, comes after placing 11th a week ago Saturday at the Class S meet. The seniorâ€™s time of 21:06 earned her All-State honors.
â€śKailyn has been an invaluable asset to the Lady Falcons since she was a freshman,â€ť Falcons head coach Paul Gionfriddo said, â€śquickly rising to become our No. 1 runner. Like every athlete, she has had her share of tough races, but she hasnâ€™t let it deter her from running hard and maintaining her No. 1 spot on the team.
â€śHer passion for this sport has inspired her teammates to push themselves to also achieve greater success. I am very proud to have coached her for all four years and see the top competitor that she has become. She has left an impact on this program, and has been a big part of our rising success these past few years.â€ť
Bielecki went into the race believing it might be the finale of her high school career.
â€śIt kind of fueled the fire because I didnâ€™t want my season to end,â€ť Bielecki said. â€śMaking the [State] Open as a senior was very important to me since I made it last year. I wanted to keep the streak going.â€ť
Initially, cross country was Bieleckiâ€™s second sport for St. Paul. But it has been a great pairing since.
â€śIn the first couple of cross country practices, it came naturally,â€ť Bielecki said. â€śI enjoyed it a lot, it felt like a big stress relief, too.â€ť
Her plans for the next school year are to study physical therapy and run in college. Right now, sheâ€™s interested in Springfield College to take on these endeavors. But before that, sheâ€™ll have both basketball and outdoor track, where she also runs distance, to get prepared for.
Constantiello, an all-conference player the past two seasons, is the son of Tracy and Vito Constantiello of Bristol, and has continued his high-level of play with the undefeated Lancers this year.
â€śDante is a rock as a central back in our defense,â€ť Eastern head coach Bill Sweet said. â€śWeâ€™ve given up few goals this season and Danteâ€™s decisions and directions have been one major reason. Not only is he a force on defense, but his free kicks have led to five goals this season. Dante is an all-around leader. He does well in school, plays hard - our strongest tackler - and sets a positive example for his fellow players.â€ť
One of the shining career moments for Constantiello was assisting Jake Woznicki, when he nailed his 64rd career goal, breaking the longtime school mark of 63 set by Chris Ghlia in 1988. Woznickiâ€™s goal took place on Saturday, Oct. 26 when Eastern was leading visiting RHAM 2-0 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game.
â€śIt is a great accomplishment and appropriate that Dante found Jake, as those two have combined for many goals over their careers,â€ť Sweet said.
Playing soccer has always been important to Constantiello, thanks in part to the inspiration from his father, who also played.
â€śI was young, probably six or seven,â€ť Constantiello said. â€śIt was just something I wanted to do. My dad used to play and now I play the sport.â€ť
Constantiello also appreciates what his coaches, Bill Sweet and assistant Bunty Ray, bring to the table.
â€śEveryday they motivate us to set the standards higher and higher,â€ť Constantiello said. â€śDonâ€™t look at the past, keep your eyes on the future. Donâ€™t pat yourself on the back.â€ť
As far as next year goes, itâ€™s to study finance in college but not play soccer.