Sophomore Peyton Greger of the Bristol Central softball team and recently graduated St. Paul senior Christian Sturm, a hammer thrower, have been selected as the “Athlete of the Week” picks in closing out the area’s high school spring sports season.
Greger, the daughter of Dory and Sandi Greger, stepped back onto the mound after a two-year absence to help lead the Rams this spring. She and her teammates recorded an 8-13 mark after losing to Naugatuck, 3-2, in the first round of the state Class L tournament.
“I see her taking on an even bigger leadership role as the years progress,” Hayes said of Gregor. “Since she just started pitching in the middle of the season this year, I am looking for improvement in fundamentals and developing a changeup, another pitch to go with her fastball.”
Gregor saw not only her game improve, but her team as well. The Rams captured six victories during the second half of the season.
“We came in as a young team, but everyone gave a 110 percent effort,” Gregor said. “And, it really helped us go farther into the season in having won more wins than last season.”
She added after playing shortstop the previous two years, she’s looking forward to being on the mound during her junior and senior seasons.
“I just like competing,” Greger said. “I enjoyed the challenge of pitching after coming back after so long. I plan to pitch the rest of my high school career.”
In addition to softball, Greger plays outside hitter for Central’s girls volleyball team. She has been selected all-conference in each sport this school year.
“As an individual, I want to keep growing and learning to make myself better,” Greger said. “As a team, I also hope we continue to grow and develop as a family for both sports and make it further into the state tournament and progress each year.”
Sturm, the son of Chris and Tammy Sturm, captured the boys state hammer throw for the second straight year and that was on Apr. 27, at the 38th O’Grady Relays held at Danbury High School. His toss of 178 feet, 5 inches easily topped that of the runner-up, Ryan Diener of Wallkill High in New York, who went 165 feet, one inch.
With this, the Forestville athlete qualified for the championship division in the event at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. In 2017, after winning the state crown, he went onto place 23rd in the event in the Emerging Elite division in tossing the hammer 151 feet, 2 inches.
The 2018 New Balance Nationals were held over the weekend with Sturm competing in the championship division. His throw of 177 feet, 6 inches placed him 26th overall in that competition.
Sturm couldn’t be reached for comments by phone, because he was likely returning home from North Carolina on Monday. But Sturm explained the event in a previous interview.
“It’s really its own thing,” Sturm said. “It’s not a common event. Another amazing thing is that it’s family. It’s such a unique event it brings us [throwers] together. It’s a close-knit family. Everyone knows everyone’s numbers, we support each other and each one of us wants to benefit from one another.”
The event is only held at a few high school invitationals in Connecticut each year and Sturm does most of his training in Middletown, N.Y., the hub of hammer throwing in the country, and that’s at all levels. Middletown has Rudy Walker, a Division-I hammer throw champion from Cornell, who has also worked out there. The trainer is Paddy McGrath and he was the Irish champ who competed in the Sydney Olympics. The best-of-the-best train and share information with one another at the facility.
“It’s given me a sense of how to be coachable,” Sturm has said. “I have much to learn about the sport, it’s just unique.”
Interesting to note, Sturm, who did the field events for St. Paul, shot put, discus and javelin, was introduced to the sport when a family friend suggested it.
“He said I had the build for it,” Sturm has said. “That was Russell Palmer, the father of Lauren Palmer, who competes for St. Paul in the discus and hammer. He had thrown for Villanova and was the  Big East champion.”
Sturm will enter Division-II Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio this fall on a scholarship.