Just as it does during the school year, the Scholar-Athletes series bridges the gap between seasons in “Best of the Bunch.”
But, really, Scholar-Athletes is more than a bridge. It’s part of the foundation of what we do, and it’s been that way long before we dreamed up an annual awards event.
Each morning, when school is in session and the games are on, the Record-Journal sports sections reports the triumphs and travails of athletes on the field.
We pick Athletes of the Week based on those games. We pick the All-Record-Journal teams.
And then, before one season rolls into another, we turn the spotlight on our Scholar-Athletes, who deserve it as much as anybody, if not more, because they combine excellence in academics and athletics.
Coaches make the selections. We don’t ask for the kid with the highest GPA. We ask for the kid with a strong GPA and with character who also made a meaningful contribution to the team.
The finalists for Scholar-Athletes of the Year reflect that to a T. We saw that when we scanned the list of CIAC Scholar-Athletes for 2019-20. It features one boy and one girl submitted from every member school in the state.
Our schools picked well. We’re familiar with all seven boys and all seven girls. They’re all seniors. They didn’t just have an “A” average. They had an “A” game.
So let’s cross the bridge — the seven boys finalists today, the seven girls finalists (next week). Each winner will receive a $500 scholarship from the Record-Journal.
A third scholarship is in the mix. That’s the Bongiovanni Insurance & Financial Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Specializing in Finance Award.
Yes, that’s a mouthful. It’s also a tidy sum: $1,000.
We are very happy to have the Bongiovanni aboard for our awards series. If memory serves, both Ty and Trey Bongiovanni were R-J Scholar-Athletes in their Maloney days some 20 years ago.
The series endures, and gets stronger. This year’s group of finalists has seen to that.
Brendan Mellitt, Cheshire: Mellitt is the reigning R-J Runner of the Year and he did nothing to lose his grip on the title in 2019-20. In cross country, Mellitt opened the season lowering the course record at Cheshire Park to 16:16 and ended it at the New England Championships. In the winter, he won the SCC championship in the 3200 and placed second in Class L. He is going on to run at Bucknell University.
Derrick Arnold, Sheehan: Arnold ranked in the top 10 of Sheehan’s Class of 2020 with a 4.17 GPA. He was an All-SCC Academic selection and a SCC Great Blue Research Scholar-Athlete. He was also one of Sheehan’s better runners over the best four years. An All-Record-Journal selection in 2018, Arnold made the All-SCC Second Team in 2019 after placing 21st in the SCC Championships at East Shore Park in 17:55. Arnold will continue running at Southern Connecticut State.
Jake DelMonte, Southington: The backbone of Southington’s 2019 Class LL runner-up team, catcher Jake DelMonte will continue playing baseball at Worcester Polytechnical Institute. He’ll graduate ranked in the top 10 of Southington’s Class of 2020. DelMonte, WPI’s prospective catcher of the future, has been a rock behind the plate for Southington. Last season, he managed a pitching staff that threw to a 1.11 earned run average. An All-CCC selection, DelMonte went the entire season without making an error. DelMonte batted .342 last year and scored 25 runs. He was second on the team in doubles with 12 and had a .443 on-base percentage. DelMonte will study civil engineering at WPI
Nate DeMaio, Wilcox Tech: The son of a coach, senior Nate DeMaio brought keen insights to the game. As point guard, he averaged 7.5 points and dished 50 assists to help the Indians return to the Division III state tournament. DeMaio played in all 22 games for the 8-14 Tribe. He averaged 7.5 points and dished out a team-high 50 assists. He swiped 35 steals on defense. DeMaio was a shrewd player. No surprise. He’s a coach’s son — his dad Jeff DeMaio coaches Guilford — and he holds a 96.285 academic average that ranks him No. 18 in the senior class.
Matt Desimone, Maloney: Desimone was one of the key performers on a Meriden Co-op swim team that racked up a program-record eight dual-meet victories this past season. He qualified for the Class LL meet in the 100 butterfly. Academically, Desimone compiled a 4.5 GPA that ranked him No. 4 in Maloney’s Class of 2020. He was Maloney’s CIAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and will study Biology in college.
Andrew McCarty, Platt: While the 2020 spring season never got off the ground, Andrew McCarty was a finalist for the R-J Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. With a 4.3 GPA, he was an Academic All-American with the National High School Coaches Association and Platt’s CIAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. His 12 doubles last year were a school record. McCarty will play at Springfield College.
Matt Pettit, Lyman Hall: Four-year standout Matt Pettit compiled a 150-point hockey career that featured a Division III state championship in his junior season, two All-SCC recognitions and two All-RJ nods. Pettit led the Trojans this year with 18 goals and 17 assists and was named to the All-State Division II Second Team. He was also the Co-op’s Hobey Baker Award winner and Lyman Hall’s CIAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. GPA 3.96. He is going to UConn.
The Record-Journal Boys Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be announced on Thursday, June 18 during the airing of the “Best of the Bunch” awards video on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. The video will also be available on myrecordjournal.com after that initial airing. Finalists in the various awards categories will be unveiled now through June 18. Up next: Girls Scholar-Athlete of the Year.