High school notes: Waterford's Maiese has a breakthrough in the mile at ECC championship

May 25—Avery Maiese was stuck, hovering right around five and a half minutes for the 1,600 meters, having had a bout with pneumonia earlier in the season.

She called Monday's Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I championship in the event a "breakthrough," finishing in 5:21.81, eclipsing her personal best time of 5:23.99 from indoor track season.

"For outdoor the past two years, I've won the 3,200 (at the ECC meet)." said Maiese, a Waterford High School junior. "But I've been sick a lot this year, like respiratory issues; I ran the 3,200 once and it just didn't go well for me, so I started focusing on the 1,600 and trying to get a PR there.

"I was stuck just below 5:30 for a while and I thought I wasn't going to be able to get back to where I was in my indoor season."

Maiese is seeded fifth in the 1,600 at the Class MM championship meet, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Willow Brook Park in New Britain.

She was also part of the Lancers' ECC champion 4x400 relay team, joining Ava Lee, Elle Dibuono and Lily Davis in finishing the race in 4:12.78. The 4x400 team is seeded fourth in the state championship meet.

Maiese has run a number of different events in her career with success, from the 4x400 to the 5,000 meters during cross country season.

She won the 1,000 (3:07.42) and the 1,600 (5:36.19) at the ECC Division I indoor track championship and calls the 1,000 her favorite distance, mainly because it's run exclusively indoors.

"It kind of gives me that time to just work on one specific race and PR and keep improving," Maiese said of the 1,000. "The 1,000 is definitely more of a middle-distance race, which, to me, is pretty much all out the whole race."

Maiese said running at ECC championship meets is special because she's won at least one title every season.

"I try to keep that mentality and it kind of pushes me to go even faster on ECC days," she said.

A marathon, not a sprint

First-year Norwich Free Academy girls' track coach Jeff Wadecki is a distance runner by trade, with several marathons to his credit including Hartford and Providence. So it makes sense that previously at NFA, he was the assistant boys' cross country coach, also assisting the distance crews during indoor and outdoor track.

On Monday, he became the head coach of the ECC Division I champion Wildcats, who finished with 161 points to dethrone 2023 champion Woodstock Academy.

"I've actually really enjoyed it, I'm not gonna lie," Wadecki, the Ledyard High grad, said of his new job. "I didn't think I was going to this much but I actually liked it a lot.

"My goal was always to be a cross country coach but it's been way more fun than I thought it was going to be. I've gotten used to every event and I like it. It's been more of a challenge. It's been an adjustment for me."


East Lyme clinched the ECC Division I boys' track championship Monday with a dramatic third-place finish in the 4x400, with the Vikings' beating out their closest competitor for the team title in NFA.

The breathless finish and all the jumping up and down, however, was rendered a bit anticlimactic, as the Vikings then added seven more points in the pole vault to pad their lead.

East Lyme won the meet with 146.5 points to NFA's 136.

Said East Lyme coach Chris Morth: "How do you not love this? The only thing that's a shame is, I do wish the pole vault was finished. A track meet should end on the 4x400. It's something, as coaches, I'm going to bring up.

"I love the pole vault, but they end the Olympics on the 4x400. The 4x400 is the most exciting. This is how the meet should be ending."

Wildcats ready to roll

The Old Lyme girls' lacrosse team lost in the Shoreline Conference championship Thursday against North Branford, 5-4. But as the second-seeded Wildcats (14-2) begin play in the Class S state tournament Tuesday against No. 15 Housatonic Regional, Old Lyme coach Emily Macione knows her team has no regrets.

"It has been a very good season for us because of the effort our players have given all season long," Macione said. "They've bought into the belief that this is a talented and capable group and one that has the ability to make a run in the state tournament if we put in the effort and maintain the right mindset."

Old Lyme had four players named to the All-Shoreline first team: Sydney Goulding, Ella Curtiss-Reardon, Grace Desmond and Alexis Antonellis. Bella Ziegler, Kaela Hoss and Kanon Oharu were second team recipients and Anna Bussman was an honorable mention pick.

Macione was the Shoreline's Coach of the Year.

Two of Old Lyme's losses this year were to ECC teams Waterford and Ledyard, with Macione claiming that the high-caliber opponents gave the Wildcats a sense of what they needed to work on.

"We are excited to kick things off on Tuesday ... and we are ready to give it all. We've got to move forward," Macione said. "Our mantra is to compete for everything. No 'what ifs.' Survive and advance."

Onward and upward

NFA released a list of athletes who will be continuing their careers in college. The list is as follows:

Cambell Apperson (Syracuse), cheerleading; Julian Ballester (Providence), boys' soccer; Brooke Bolles (Eastern Connecticut State), girls' soccer; Ella Duarte (Central Connecticut State), dance; CJ Frank (Norwich), boys' lacrosse; Hannah Graham (Yale), girls' track; Gigi Graves (Roger Williams), equestrian; Melina Graziano (East Stroudsburg), softball; Louis Hawkins III(Roger Williams), boys' soccer; Gage Hinkley (Rhode Island), football; Logan Jenkins (Western New England), boys' lacrosse; and Ayden Kempesta (Eastern Connecticut State), baseball.

Also, Malachy Murray (Southern Connecticut State), boys' track; Katelynn Nowakowski (Endicott), dance; Jaden Perkins (Bridgewater State), boys' soccer; Erik Portillo (Mitchell), boys' soccer; Alice Rourke (Lasell), girls' lacrosse/field hockey; Anna Sasarak (Central Connecticut State), dance; Hailey Smith (Bridgeport), softball; Daniel St. George (Lasell), baseball; Naiya Stone-McClellan (Mitchell), girls' basketball; Rhys Surprenant (Western New England), football; Dylan Vanegas (Castleton), wrestling; Madison Waltke (Quinnipiac), softball; Nevaeh Yorke (St. Joseph), girls' basketball.