Two Bristol Central athletes have been selected as this weekâ€™s â€śAthletes of the Week.â€ť They are senior indoor track participant Kaiya Alexander and sophomore basketball center Donovan Clingan.
Alexander, the daughter of Augustus and Ulanda Alexander, competes in both the discus and shot put for the school. She has been chosen for the weekly honor after breaking her school mark in the shot put, having done so recently at the 38th Yale Interscholastic Track Classic in New Haven. She had the best overall girls finish at the meet among those from Bristol who competed.
Alexander tossed the shot put a distance of 36-7, besting the school mark of 36-3 she set as a sophomore. She holds the schoolâ€™s two best tosses and her record is nearly three feet further than anyone else has thrown from the school.
â€śIâ€™m super proud of her indoor season,â€ť said Kiara Bonilla-Jusino, Alexanderâ€™s outdoor coach. â€śSheâ€™s going to be a captain for us in the spring season. Sheâ€™s going to lead us into good things in the outdoor season.â€ť
Alexander, meanwhile, was more than pleased with her results.
â€śIt felt good,â€ť Alexander said. â€śI wanted to break it my junior year, but I had a pinched nerve and that kept my throws in the 30s, like 32 to 33 feet. I wanted to go out my senior year good both academically and athletically.â€ť
Which she is doing. Sheâ€™s already been accepted by eight colleges and is waiting to hear from UConn. Right now, sheâ€™d like to go to the University of New Haven. Sheâ€™s unsure of competing in track at that next level, but is looking to study criminal justice.
As far as the discus goes, her personal record is 90-3, while the school mark is 110 feet. Sheâ€™s 20 feet under that school standard, but hopes to give it some competition.
â€śI feel with good technique, work and having the right mindset, I would be able to break the record my senior year,â€ť Alexander said. â€śAnd with the shot, I just want to throw it as far as possible.â€ť
And wherever she ends up in track and field this senior year, itâ€™ll be with the help of her coaches, both former standout track athletes for the Rams.
â€ś[Indoor] coach Kevin Taylor has been motivating this current track season and pushes me, critiques my throws and tells me what to do,â€ť Alexander said. â€śItâ€™s just making sure Iâ€™m mentally prepared during certain meets and meets to come. Coach Bonilla, she always has a positive outlook on my throws and with coach Taylor, he always motivates me about technique.â€ť
Clingan, the son of William and the late Stacey Clingan, is the type of athlete that comes to a school once in 20 years. The 7-footer was a standout who averaged 22.8 points a game last season as a freshman and is currently in the vicinity of 21 ppg this season. The sophomore has made quite a reputation for himself with colleges already looking at him.
Heâ€™s also someone whose performances could put him in the â€śAOWâ€ť spotlight week-in and week-out. This past week, for example, he started out on Monday in leaving the game with four minutes left in the third period, not to return. He had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks as the Rams topped visiting Platt by a score of 69-48.
On Wednesday, he and his teammates placed a 52-16 loss on host Innovation in New Britain, where Clingan recorded a game-high 19 points and added 10 rebounds and three blocks in sitting out the final 12 minutes of that game. On Friday, fans saw the Rams beat visiting Simsbury 58-46 as Clingan led all players with 26 points and 22 rebounds.
Last year, Clingan and his teammates put together an 8-13 record before losing in the first round of the Class III tournament. Central entered this week with an 8-2 mark and Clingan and his teammates have high expectations for the rest of the year.
â€śWe practice hard,â€ť Clingan said. â€śBeing big, when I get the ball inside itâ€™s important for the shooters to relocate so I can pass the ball back so they can make the shots. Coach [Tim Barrette] has also come up with good game plans to stop the opposing teamâ€™s key player. We also have good chemistry.â€ť
He added that one of the team goals this season is to finish with at least 15 win before the playoffs begin.
â€śTo win one game at a time and make it to Mohegan [Sun for the state championship game],â€ť Clingan said. â€śItâ€™s possible if we practice hard and keep working hard. Itâ€™s to try to win a ring.â€ť
In addition to basketball for Bristol Central, Donovan Clingan plays AAU ball summers for Team Spartans out of Massachusetts.