The winter season is far from over and the countdown to the league tournaments has begun. That being said, the area teams and their athletes are looking to be playing at the peak of their potential as they get ready.
Berlin’s Ashley Wenzel and Southington’s Tyler Heidgerd both did their part in helping their respective teams win over the past week.
Wenzel had a stellar week as she put up 12 points on Tuesday against Farmington and then 18 points on Thursday against Platt, helping the Redcoats increased their winning streak to seven games as of Thursday and their overall record to 12-7 entering the week.
Her recent onset of outstanding offensive contributions has been key and instrumental in the Redcoats’ recent success.
“There is so much to say about this extremely talented freshman,” Berlin head coach Sheila King said. “She has added so much energy and excitement of this young team. Her talent, knowledge of the game and maturity goes well beyond the expectations of her age and grade.”
Wenzel is the player who stays long after practice has ended, just to work on her game. She is always one of the last one to leave the gym and it has paid off.
Through the first 19 games of the season, Wenzel is averaging 13 points a game with a 55 field-goal percentage. The freshman guard also averages five rebounds and five steal per game.
“In the beginning [of the season] I was a little timid,” Wenzel said. “But my teammates pushed to get me out of my comfort zone. Ever since, I’ve been shooting and driving the ball. My team has really helped me take more chances.”
Along with her ability to score, Wenzel has shown to be just as good on the defensive end of the court. King often asks her to take on the opposing team's toughest threats, one Wenzel accepts with great excitement every time.
“I can't speak enough to her tremendous focus, leadership potential, athleticism and competitiveness,” King said. “She gets it done on both ends of the floor. Ashley is a coach's dream.”
With Berlin having already locked up a spot in the Class M bracket, the team is getting ready to turn its focus to the CCC Tournament before the state tournament begins.
But with the way the Redcoats have been playing, they’re entering with some really high expectations.
“We’ve had a great season,” Wenzel said. “We started out rough, but then we started playing really well. We have great chemistry as a team. We really want to make a run in the tournament. I think we have a really good shot.”
The Southington boys swim team continues to prove why it is one of the best teams in the area as the Blue Knights earned their fifth win of the season Friday afternoon against Middletown.
A sophomore, Heidgerd played a big part in the 87-81 Southington victory, coming away with first place in two events, just one of two Blue Knights swimmers to do so on the day.
“Tyler is an outstanding athlete and swimmer,” Southington head coach Evan Tuttle said. “Right from the gecko, [he] qualified last year individually and in a relay for Class LL and he has done the same for this year.”
Heidgerd claimed first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:55.05 and the 100 freestyle with a time of 52.78. His times, Tuttle said comes from what Heidgerd is able to do in the offseason.
“He has tremendous work ethic,” Tuttle said. “Tyler swims in the offseason with Meriden Fin and you can tell it is really paying off. He’s having an incredible sophomore season, he can only better.”
Heidgerd has been swimming for eight years now and has high hopes for the CCC championships as well as the Class LL states toward the end of the season.
“We’ve done pretty good this year, and we’re just hoping to get better for the postseason,” Heidgerd said. “I want to go 55 low in the 100 backstroke and 50 flat in the 100 freestyle.”
It’s something that is not out of reach for this swimmer going forward this season.
Shelby Iava can be contacted at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org