Two track and field performers share this week’s Athlete of the Week honors with regards to area high school sports. They are senior quad-captain Olivia Savino of Bristol Central and junior Christian Sturm of St. Paul.
Savino, the daughter of Anthony and Rebecca Savino, is a steady, all-around athlete for first-year outdoor track coach Kiara Bonilla-Jusino. She’s normally good for two or three individual wins a meet, while also doing relays, and in her last competition - an 88-28 victory over host Platt a week ago Monday - she captured wins in the 100 hurdles (17:24) and 300 hurdles (52.97), while she was also a member of the winning 4x100 relay with teammates Adalia Malick, Shy-Ann Whitten and Nicole Pizzaro.
“I think I did very well,” Savino said. “I got a season PR in the 100 hurdles. I had a second in the long jump and I didn’t think I did that well. I can do a lot better.”
While she has competed in a lot of different events during her four years with Bristol Central, she does have a favorite.
“Definitely the 100 hurdles,” Savino said. “I think I’m good at it. I can always improve on my time and it’s a different event to learn. It took me four years to finally get my form down and get good at it.”
“Right now I’m (ranked) first in Class L,” Savino said.
As far as goals this season, it’s to do well in her favorite event and to go to New England’s in it, and to the nationals with her 800-meter medley relay teammates: Whitten, Pizzaro and Malick.
“The medley isn’t run in a normal meet,” Savino said. “Cheyenne and I do the 100-meters, Nicole does the 200 and Adalia the 400. Adalia has reached her time already and if we all reach the [combined] standard under 1:51 we will qualify.
“Another goal is to break my 16.9 in the 100 hurdles. That’s my best time.”
And in looking back at four years of high school sports, Savino knows she has benefited greatly.
“It’s made me a stronger person,” Savino said. “I’ve made a lot of friends. I don’t know what I would do without sports in my life.”
Sturm, the son of Chris and Tammy Sturm of Bristol, had two standout performances for St. Paul coach Jim Husbands this season, winning the hammer throw at the Bloomfield Invitational and at the Manchester meet following, and that was with throws of 140-0 and 154-8, respectively. With this, Husbands had only positive things to say about him.
“Christian has been working real hard on improving his strength and his technique over the last year or so and now that he is able to actually compete, his hard work is paying off with wins and personal best,” Husbands said. “Because the hammer is not one of the normal events in Connecticut high school meets, Christian is limited in his opportunities to throw but so far this season he has made the best of each meet he’s competed in. His throw at Bloomfield was a new meet record. He has several more meets this season - O’Grady’s in Danbury, the Irv Black in New Britain, and the CIAC Meet in mid-June - before he gets to compete in the New Balance High School National Meet in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“With the progress he has made this year going from 140-0 to 154-0, I wouldn’t be surprised if he topped 180-0 by the end of the year and that would put him in a good position to capture his first state championship.”
The hammer throw is an altogether-different kind of event. Sturm does the shot put, javelin and discus, as well as running in the 4X100 relay, but the hammer throw isn’t held in all meets. In fact, he trains in Middletown, N.Y., the hub of hammer throwing in this country.
“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.”
Middletown, N.Y. has Rudy Winkler, the defending Div. I hammer thrower from Cornell, working out there. The trainer is Paddy McGrath and he was the Irish champ who competed in the Sydney Olympics. The best of the best use and share information and train at the facility.
“A friend of mine suggested it,” Sturm said. “He said I had the build for it. 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.”
His goal is 180-0 feet this season, but knows he has more work to do.
“I think it’s obtainable, because there’s so much to do with my form to increase my distance,” Sturm said. “I have much to learn about the sport, it’s just unique.”
And in the short period of time he’s thrown, he’s learned a lot.
“It’s given me a sense of how to be coachable,” Sturm said. “This is a sport where your ego will bring you down. If you feel you’re better than everyone else, you’ll be overtaken.”
Contact Bob Montgomery at email@example.com.