The school year that has been over just a few weeks might seem like forever to some, but we’re not ready to put it to bed quite yet. We prefer looking back at the best our athletes had to offer during the academic year.
In the first of a three-part series, we’ll take a look back at the top 10 senior athletes of the year from Naugatuck and Woodland high schools. Of course, there are plenty more outstanding senior athletes who helped their teams to victories and gained Naugatuck Valley League and state honors, but we had to pick our top 10.
Top 10 Senior Athletes
Kyle Beynor (Woodland cross country, track, tennis): Beynor concluded his high school career as the best tennis player in Woodland history and one of the best in the recent history of the Naugatuck Valley League. Although Beynor lost his NVL career unbeaten streak this year, he helped the Hawks win their third straight league title and he won his second NVL singles crown in a row. He also became the first Woodland player to reach the state quarterfinals in singles play. Oh, yeah, he wasn’t too bad at running, either.
Tayler Boncal (Woodland volleyball, track): No player had a bigger role in the Woodland volleyball squad’s exciting run to the Class M state final than Boncal, the All-NVL hitter and emotional leader of the Hawks. She also led Woodland’s indoor and outdoor track teams to NVL championships while earning All-NVL honors in both sports. For her efforts throughout her career, she earned the NVL Female Senior Athlete of the Year award.
Sarah Chandler (Naugatuck volleyball, softball): The Greyhounds had a great emotional leader in multiple sports with Chandler, the versatile senior. She led Naugy’s volleyball team to the NVL tournament while playing all six positions, and in the spring she helped the Greyhounds to a state tournament victory over Hall as the starting shortstop and No. 3 hitter. She earned All-Copper Division honors on the diamond.
Steph Dumond (Woodland soccer, track): Even though a broken arm threw a wrench into what could have been a record-setting senior year on the pitch for Dumond, she still finished her career as one of the school’s leading scorers. She returned to the state tournament in time to help the Hawks reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2004. Dumond was also a key sprinter for Woodland’s track squads, which earned NVL titles in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Brandon Kuczenski (Naugatuck football, basketball): Trying to find a stronger NVL athlete on the gridiron or the hardwood than Kuczenski would have been an impossible task this year. Kuczenski returned to football for the first time since his freshman year and made a massive impact for the Greyhounds as an All-NVL tight end and linebacker. He was also plenty reliable on the basketball court, posting several double-doubles in helping Naugy reach the postseason.
Steph Lima (Naugatuck soccer, basketball): Alexya Alves may have finished as the Greyhounds’ leading soccer scorer last fall, but she couldn’t have done it without Lima, who took away some attention from Alves with 10 goals of her own in helping the ‘Hounds reach the NVL semis. Lima also contributed to the Naugatuck basketball squad as a threat from both the outside and inside.
Mick Pernell (Naugatuck football, basketball, track): Pernell broke a decade-old scoring record at Naugatuck last fall when he scored 31 touchdowns for the Greyhounds, helping them salvage what could have been the messiest season in school history. He earned All-NVL and All-State honors for his efforts on the gridiron, but he didn’t stop there. He was also one of the top point guards in the league and emerged as one of the best sprinters in the Valley, too.
Collin Reilly (Naugatuck cross country, track): Naugatuck’s recent history as the home of great distance runners continued this year as Reilly concluded his All-State career. His excellence in the indoor distance events, in particular, helped the Greyhounds nab the NVL championship by just a few points over Woodland. He was an All-Copper pick in cross country and an All-NVL selection on the track and will run at Southern Connecticut.
Rahmi Rountree (Woodland football, basketball, track): After missing a year from Woodland at Cheshire, Rountree returned to the Woods and made a major impact in three different sports. He was the No. 2 wide receiver in the Hawks’ record-setting offense that helped the team reach the Class S semifinals. He emerged as a double-figure scorer for Woodland’s basketball team that earned another state victory, and earned All-State honors as part of the Hawks’ 4-by-100-meter relay team.
Anthony Scirpo (Woodland football, track, baseball): Thanks to Scirpo, an alleged murderer no longer holds Connecticut’s single-season receiving touchdowns record. He broke Aaron Hernandez’s former record with 25 touchdown receptions this year en route to All-State accolades. Scirpo was also an All-NVL runner during the indoor track season and was an All-Brass pick as one of Woodland’s leading hitters during the spring.