Bristol Centralâ€™s David Bowes and Southingtonâ€™s Kara Zazzaro earn this seasonâ€™s final â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť honors.
Itâ€™s rare when a freshman earns â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť honors, let alone doing it in his or her first full season in a sport. Bowes had only competed in the Hershey Track meets and the Nutmeg Games prior to high school, never competing for a school.
Bowes, the son of Ken and Marie Bowes, displayed his athleticism in gym class, catching the eye of gym teacher and boys track and field coach Tamara Stafford-Kirk and she eventually had him convinced to run for the outdoor track and field team. Heâ€™s already left his mark in the sport in his first season this spring and he has three more years to go.
â€śDavid is one of the most talented freshmen Iâ€™ve worked with in my 20 years of coaching,â€ť Stafford-Kirk said. â€śNot only is he naturally talented, but he trains hard and has a very competitive nature. The times he has run in the 400 puts him in a very elite level of track and field athletes. We are very lucky to coach him and look forward to the nationalâ€™s [this] week and his future is bright with BC track and field.â€ť
Bowes ran the 400 in 50.10 seconds this spring, breaking the Bristol Central school record set by Jacob Eschner in 2011. Bowes also placed fifth at the Class L meet and then eighth in the recent State Open.
â€śI wasnâ€™t expecting the times that I got, but itâ€™s all thanks to my coaches and the seniors who helped me this season,â€ť Bowes said.
For his efforts, Bowes earned all-conference honors in the 400 and 4x400 relay and All-State honors in the 4x100 relay.
The New Balance Nationals will be held in Greensboro, N.C., this Friday and Bowes will compete in the open 400 in the freshman division and with Sean Fitzgerald, Luis Medina and Kaynan Conrod in the high school divisionâ€™s 4x800 relay. Each of the fourâ€™s best times added up qualified them for the competition.
In addition to his new sport, Bowes has been playing soccer since he could walk. He started for the Bristol Central varsity team as a center back this past fall. Last weekend, Bowes was in New Jersey taking part in the Olympic Development Program.
â€śI like the physical demand, the precision and playing on a team,â€ť Bowes said. â€ś[The Olympic Development Program] was a great experience, but exhausting. I had a lot of fun making new friends and playing soccer.â€ť
The Southington softball once again reached the Class LL title game. Although the Blue Knights ultimately fell to Trumbull 4-3 in the end, Zazzaro was a big reason for the team getting that far.
It was supposed to be a down year for the Blue Knights, one in which many people did not expect them to be as competitive as they has previously been due to the losses sustained from last seasonâ€™s roster. But whenever Southington needed a big performance, the junior was the one to step up and control the game from the pitching circle.
Against rival and defending-champion Cheshire in the semifinals, Zazzaro tossed seven strong innings, allowing just two runs and most importantly delivered some big pitches when she needed to.
â€śIâ€™ve said this all year but she gets stronger as the game goes along,â€ť Blue Knights head coach Davina Hernandez said. â€śShe has this poker face on the mound and nothing gets to her. She made some big pitches to get out of trouble.â€ť
And the pitcher, well she relishes the change to show what she can do on the big stages.
â€śI felt pretty good out there,â€ť Zazzaro said. â€śThese are my favorite games to pitch in and the energy was so good from both sides all game so it was a lot of fun to be a part of.â€ť
It was just a season ago when Zazzaro was the teamâ€™s closer, a year later and she has been one of the stateâ€™s most dominant pitchers. Against E.O. Smith in the quarterfinal round, Zazzaro tossed a three-hit shutout and perhaps more impressively, she struck out 10 and walked none.
The title game was a tough loss for the Southington players, but Hernandez knows her team should bounce back just fine. After all, the Blue Knights have some important players returning to the fold.
â€śWe are going to bounce back from this,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śWe are losing some really important seniors, but we also have a lot of young players coming back; and we have Kara coming back, which is nice.â€ť
Indeed it is, although opponents might have different thoughts.