Sophomore Kaiya Alexander of the Bristol Central girls track team and Thomas Lombardi, a senior on the Bristol Eastern boys tennis team, share “Athlete of the Week” honors with regards to area high school sports.
Alexander, the daughter of Augustus and Ulanda Alexander, competes in the field events for the Rams - the discus, javelin and shot put. She broke the school mark in the shot put this season and fared well in the Bristol City meet, CCC meet and the Class L championships.
“Kaiya Alexander is one of the most dedicated throwers on our team,” said Anthony Lowell, Alexander’s shot put coach at Bristol Central. ““It is clear that she loves to throw and works diligently to perfect her craft with particular attention to the shot put techniques. She has a high attention to detail in all her events and will often seek assistance from myself and other coaches to further improve her skill set. She is a role model for the younger team members while setting the standard for her older teammates as well.”
Alexander set the new school standard, 36-3, at the CCC meet held at Bristol Eastern on May 23, winning first place in the competition.
“I felt mentally prepared for the event, but didn’t expect [the record] because it was so late in the season,” Alexander said. “I thought I was going to have to break it next season. My previous best was 34-10. I expected to get a top three [finish], but didn’t expect to get first.”
At the Class L meet in Middletown on May 29, she earned All-State status with her second place toss of 34-3.
“That one, I felt more pressure, because it was a higher ranked meet to go to,” Alexander said. “The previous indoor season, I didn’t do well so I was thinking about that as well. After I saw the rankings and that I was second and All-State, I knew I was going to the State Open.”
That stop, at Willow Brook Park in New Britain on June 4, where she finished 21st. But Alexander already has the marks she wants to hit in the future.
“My goal by [the end of] my junior year would be to reach 40 feet,” Alexander said. “That’d be pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to get better in the event. Getting near 45-50 feet my senior year would be a goal.”
Lombardi has been a captain in both soccer and tennis, while also solid in the classroom as a member of the National Honor Society at school. He’s proud he and his teammates captured the CCC South Patriot Division crown and was named among the Bristol Eastern players who were selected as all-conference this spring.
“Thomas has served our team admirably as a captain this season and as one of the team’s top players,” Lancers coach Logan Bourke said. “He was equally comfortable in the No. 1 singles or No. 1 double spots this year and contributed so much towards our team’s overall success throughout the last few seasons. He also helped to introduce several younger players to the sport, thus continuing to help Eastern’s program even as he leaves for college.”
Lombardi, however, gave the credit to his teammates.
“It was just nice to all come together,” Lombardi said. “We had a nice team atmosphere and all of our hard work paid off.”
He also competed in the states in doubles and lost in the second set 7-5, but added having the entire team at the competition was great because of the support everyone gave one another other.
With only a few days left of high school, Lombardi said he walks away having benefited from his experiences in sports.
“I think I’ve learned a lot of leadership skills that’ll apply to my future: good friendships, the competitiveness and good sportsmanship too,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi will enter Bryant College in the fall to study business. As far as sports go, he’s contemplating playing both club soccer and tennis. And as he leaves, there’s advice for the younger high school athletes.
“Just stick with it even when it gets hard,” Lombardi said. “It was a big time commitment.”