Bristol Press Athletes of the Week are St. Paul's Jessica Persechino and Bristol Central's Dathan Hickey

Published on Monday, 14 May 2018 21:13


Dathan Hickey’s performance with Bristol Central at the Greater Hartford Invitational track and field meet on Saturday and Jessica Persechino’s week-long hitting for St. Paul softball has earned them Athlete of the Week honors for area high school sports.

Persechino, the daughter of Angela and Tony Persechino of Torrington, had a week with her bat that very few have had in some time.

St. Paul won five straight games, with Persechino going 4-for-5 with a homer in a 13-0 win over host Kennedy a week ago Sunday, hitting another home run the next day in a 4-3 victory over visiting Seymour, doubling in Wednesday’s 3-0 blanking of host Wolcott, homering in a 24-4 win over visiting Crosby on Thursday - a game in which she also fanned 13 batters as the winning pitcher - and topping the week off on Saturday with a triple and three singles as the Falcons shut out host Ansonia 15-0.

Her coach, Gary Hovhanessian, couldn’t say enough about his infielder/pitcher.

“She has started since day one of her freshman year at shortstop,” Hovhanessian said. “This is her third year there and she has also taken up some pitching responsibilities. This year, her junior classmate and softball mate Abby Poirot has benefitted from our rigorous schedule with rainouts, and all because Jess has pitched some of the games to give Abby a rest.”

This year, Persechino is hitting in the leadoff spot, with a .608 on-base percentage. She’s 19-for-19 in stolen base attempts, has 37 hits, including eight home runs, and scored 44 runs.

“In our win against Seymour last Monday, Jess and Abby both homered in what proved to be the runs needed to beat the number one team in the state, 4-3. Jess has accumulated 26 RBI from the leadoff spot also,” Hovhanessian said.

As a pitcher, Persechino has a 4-0 record with an ERA of 1.36. In her 26 innings of work, she has struck out 46 batters.

Persechino is pleased with St. Paul’s season.

“We’re 14-1, number one in the state [in] Class S,” Persechino said. “We beat Seymour for the first time ever, and they were number one [overall] in the state. We also beat Holy Cross. We lost to them in the state tournament last year in the finals, so we’re basically doing well.”

She added that the team goal is to go back this year and win the Class S crown. Personally, her goal is to improve as a player.

In getting to where she is today, a possible All-State candidate, she began playing softball at the age of five. She played with the CT Titans while in the fifth grade and continuted until last year, when she joined the CT Charmers program. She joined AAU ball because there were no softball programs in grammar school.

Persechino praised her high school coach.

“He does everything to make us better,” she said. “He pushes because he knows we can do better. He knows the game very well.”

Hickey, a senior who is the son of Pam and Rod Hickey, has shown his athletic prowess in playing football, basketball, baseball and now track and field in high school, each with solid results.

He took first place in the 100 meters and long jump, and was a member of a winning relay on Saturday, participating in his first-ever season of high school track.

His coach, Tamara Stafford-Kirk, has had a number of outstanding athletes during her career.

“Dathan Hickey was electric today - he couldn’t be beaten,” Stafford-Kirk said. “If there were ever any question about his athleticism, he put that to rest today. He just had one of the top three long jump performances in school history.”

That was a leap of 22-8¼ to go along with a time of 11.31 seconds in the 100 meters and sharing a time of 44.02 with the school’s 4x100 relay team, which also includes David Bowes, Pat Kjornrattanawanich and Nigel West.

“My [personal record] in the 100 meters is 10.5, and this was my [personal record] in the long jump,” Hickey said. “Drew Lee holds the record at 23-2¼ and my goal is to beat that. I believe by the end of the season I’ll get the long jump record. I have to work on my finish. Once I get that, I’ll be alright. As far as the relay, that wasn’t our best time.”

In preparing for college football, Hickey, who played three years of baseball for the Rams, decided on track and field this spring, and he says both have helped his athletic growth.

“Playing baseball for three years helped my hand and eye coordination and allowed me to be strong mentally, because it’s a game of failure,” Hickey said. “I knew that track and field would help me for the football season in college. It’s for speed work, staying in shape and to strengthen my core. I have to press myself when I get on the field [at Yale].”

A multiple position player for Bristol Central, Hickey is looking at positions to play at the next level.

“I know there are spots open in the secondary and whether there is or not, I’m going to show the coaches what I can do to make them not second guess me on the field or not,” Hickey said. “My goal is to start as a freshman.”

In February, Hickey announced his commitment to Yale in front of a filled school auditorium, which included family members, students, teachers, school administrators and others. His high school head coach, Jeff Papazian, talked about his success.

“His family has done a tremendous job of raising him,” Papazian said. “All of his teachers have had a hand in this. All the coaches he’s had have had a hand in this. It’s been a collaborative effort to help Dathan get to this point.”

Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Athletes of the Week, Bristol Central, St. Paul on Monday, 14 May 2018 21:13. Updated: Monday, 14 May 2018 21:16.