The Athlete of the Week picks for area scholastic sports are Katie and Chris Deforest of Terryville High, who ran distance events in indoor track this winter for their school. This is also the second time the siblings of Plymouth residents Jennifer and John Deforest have received the honor by the Bristol Press Sports Department at the same time, a first in the history of this publication.
Katie Deforest, a sophomore, receives the honor after finishing 11th in the 1,600 meters at the Class S meet held at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven on Feb. 14. She posted a time of 5:42.72, the fastest of any competitor from the Berkshire League. It was also a season-best for the junior runner.
One of her running coaches at the school, Stephanie Fuller, has praised her when given the chance and did so at the end of the fall cross country season.
“Katie may not be so quiet (compared to her brother), but she is a workhorse just like her brother and she has showed endless perseverance this year,” Fuller said. “Our small girls team means that Katie has to make the choice day-in and day-out to push herself and run with the boys. She is a fiery competitor and won’t take no for an answer.”
When she received AOW honors last year at this time, her indoor track coach, Kevin Shumann, also complimented his premier female competitor.
“Katie has had a big year for us running so far,” Schumann said. “Her success in cross country gave her a good base of training for the indoor season. This is actually her first time doing track, so I was very pleased with her performance in different events this season.”
It all began just four years ago.
“I made the decision to run cross country in the sixth grade,” Deforest said. “My dad and my brother thought I’d be good at it. It’s kind of a freedom to run, It’s fun and you can get in shape.”
Last winter, Deforest took on her first state level competition at Class S, also at the Floyd Little Athletic Center. She ran the mile in 5:40, a personal best, and that was good for ninth place as the best from the Berkshire League in the event.
As far as goals go before graduating high school in 2022, Deforest hopes to get her cross country time down to 19:30. In track, it’s 5:05 outdoors and 5:10 indoors. She admits that the mile is her best event, but another goal is to work in lowering her 3,200 times.
Chris Deforest is among a list of the all-time impressive male distance runners from Terryville High. As the Class S champion in both cross country and now in indoor track, he could be considered the best distance runner in that class, as well as one of the best in the state.
He’s had a number of outstanding races, and the Class S run this winter was one of them. He ran 9:49.68 in winning the 3,200, beating the second-place finisher by a remarkable 14 seconds. His winning time was also one of the best in the state.
Coach Fuller, in speaking on behalf of herself and Dean Martin, another Terryville distance coach, is appreciative of having had the Terryville state champion on their team.
“Chris Deforest is one of the hardest working athletes that either of us have ever coached,” Fuller said. “He is not satisfied and always strives for improvement. He has lofty goals and will let nothing get in the way of achieving them. On top of his dedication and work ethic, he is humble and unpretentious.”
His resume is impressive. Last year as a junior, he finished second at the Class S indoor meet. And it’s not just the prestige he has earned from other runners, it’s being considered a friend on both sides.
“It’s made me a better person, I’ve made friendships,” Deforest said. “I stay humble, because it makes a good example of yourself for others.”
With just one season left to his high school career, that of spring track, it’s obvious everyone is hoping there will be one, even if it starts a bit late. If not, it’s a long way to September.
“Plan B is to get a bunch of kids and run just regular track races, mile, two-mile, and things like that,” Deforest said.
This coming fall, Deforest will be attending Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., where he will major in finance while competing in both cross country and track. The Green and Gold compete at the Division I level in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
“I’d like to hold a varsity spot,” Deforest said. “They have a great team and I’d like to be up with them.”