All-Decade: Best of the rest


Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News

We’ve made it through all the major team sports in our All-Decade series, but we’d still leave out plenty of deserving athletes if we just stuck to the main menu of high school sports.

Over the past decade, many student-athletes have flourished on their schools’ cheerleading, dance, weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics teams. Although there’s no fair way to create All-Decade teams for these sports, they deserve a shout-out here.

And who knows? Maybe next decade we’ll have to include lacrosse, timber sports or fishing!

Cheerleading: Woodland finally broke through in 2019 to win the Naugatuck Valley League co-ed cheerleading championship. The Hawks have had their share of All-State cheerleaders throughout the decade — Paige Christensen, Monica Del Buono, Molly Ensero, Meghan Killinger, Kaitlyn Gutmann, Alison Knox and Kayla Macharelli all have individual plaques in Woodland’s hall of awards.

Naugatuck’s most decorated cheerleader of the decade was Rachel Garcia, who earned both Academic All-State and All-State honors. Back in 2010, four Greyhounds — Jamie Iannotti, Krista Verrastro, Michelle Scinto and Victoria Hendricks — were chosen as Connecticut’s only four representatives on an all-America cheer squad that performed in the Disney Christmas Parade.

Dance: The NVL first recognized dance as a varsity sport in 2015, and the Hawks and Greyhounds have been constant contenders at the league and state championship competitions. Woodland racked up four state runner-up performances throughout the decade, led by dancers such as Vanessa Adams, Kristen Cullen, Alyssa Parrella, Casey Rioux, Kelsey Linnell, Mary Vlamis, Cristiana Santos and Kelly Mirando. The Hawks also finished sixth at a New England invitational in 2015.

Top Naugatuck dancers throughout the decade included Emily Cronin and Kaylee Llano.

Weightlifting: Woodland captured two NVL weightlifting titles during the decade, hoisting banners in 2013 and 2018. The Hawks’ top lifters during those championship seasons included Jeremy Clark, Kevin Brennan, Dave LaChance, Levi Fancher, Joe Kmetz, Zach Kabusk, Edit Krivca and Dave Kiernan.

Wrestling: After many years without any wrestlers at the local schools, the sport recently returned with teams-of-one at Woodland and Naugatuck. The Hawks’ Elias Sturdevant won the Berkshire Valley championship at 113 pounds in 2019 and finished among the top six in Class S. The Greyhounds’ Logan Wilcox has also excelled, placing fourth at 170 pounds in 2019.

Gymnastics: Some of the area’s most awarded athletes have competed in the gym — the one with beams, mats and bars. In 2010, Naugatuck’s Kassie Merancy completed a career in which she was a three-time All-State competitor. At Woodland, the Poynton twins — Stephanie and Kristina — also excelled. Stephanie earned All-State status in 2016, and Kristina was named a National High School Gymnastics Association All-American in 2019 on the vault. Other local gymnasts throughout the decade included Naugy’s Katrina Orsini and Ali Dube and Woodland’s Andie Caterino.