BERLIN - Berlin High School hosted its 2021 signing day Wednesday afternoon, sending off 19 high school seniors with a formal recognition for their decision to continue to their athletic careers.
In front of a crowd in the school library that consisted mainly of staff and family members, coaches and athletic administrators talked at length on their students and their contributions in their sport as well as their work in the classroom to set them apart from the rest.
Berlin athletic director David Franacalgia spoke to open the event on what helped get the group to where they’re at now, at the end of their athletic careers.
The list for Berlin was star-studded. In track and field, Chris Bantle (Univeristy of New Haven), Noelle Knior (University of Hartford) and Megan Perrotta (University of Connecticut) each were recognized. Bantle will also run cross country at New Haven.
In golf, Jacob Lindsay was recognized for his state-caliber season, and was recognized as going forward with his career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Luke Mangiafico, a state-qualifying wrestler from the 2020 CIAC season, was recognized as committing to American International College as well.
With COVID-19 taking a hit on the football season, Joseph Caracoglia’s numbers leading into this season were enough to turn some heads at Western New England College, where he will be continuing his college career.
Caracoglia had 19 catches for 296 yards and two scores in 2019. He also had 35 tackles on defense.
Nick Jutras was in the same boat was Caracoglia, not having a senior season to play. Jutras had 26 tackles (six for a loss) and two sacks. He earned a spot on Curry College’s football roster this fall.
Two lacrosse players will continue in college as Cole Primo (St. Joseph’s College) and Trevor Miano (Eastern Connecticut State) were recognized.
Primo netted six goals in 14 games this season while Miano played on the defensive side, grabbing 19 groundballs.
Signing on to play collegiately for the Berlin girls soccer team were Ashley Wenzel (Assumption College) and Jenna Zup (St. Joseph’s College), both of whom had lengthy accolades that etched them into Berlin history.
“[They’re going to be missed] tremendously. They were both team captains, both obviously successful on the field, all-state players, and are going to be extremely difficult to replace more so in the locker room,” said Berlin girls soccer head coach Alex Joslyn. “Soccer is one of those sports where we don’t get time outs, and you almost need coaches on the field. Ashley and Jenna exhibited that for the three years I had them. … I know they’re going to do great things in their collegiate careers.”
On replacing both, Joslyn said it’s something he has been trying to put off thinking about in the offseason, knowing it’ll be hard to put someone in their place going forward.
“It’s tough. It’s something now I have to think about. I tried to put it on the back burner for a while,”said Joslyn. “This is their day. Thinking ahead, I don’t want to say replace because they’re so unique, but what we can do maybe to fill their shoes, we have a great junior class. … Freshman are going to need to step up. … Some big shoes to fill.”
For Berlin softball, four players were announced as continuing their careers collegiately. Casey Uryga (Roger Williams University), Stephanie Poulin (Fitchburg State University), Kylie Lanteri (Salve Regina University) and Zup were named.
Zup will be playing both soccer and softball for St. Joseph’s.
When asked what softball head coach Jason Pires is hoping these girls can take away from the last three years under him, he said he hopes they can give it their all at all times because you never know when the end is coming.
“We did not have a postseason we were hoping for, and I hope they take lessons from that, that it can be taken away very quickly, even when things seem to be at their very best, “ said Pires. “… You’ve got to keep fighting, play every day like it’s your last day because some day it will be. Never take anything for granted, never make an assumption, never walk on a field thinking you’ve already won the game. Always respect the opponent and the game and that any moment it could be the very end.”
Uryga posted a .524 batting average this spring, tallying a team-leading 43 hits with eight RBI. Poulin hit .425 at the plate with 12 RBIs and a 2.25 ERA in 19 appearances, six of which were shutouts. Lanteri hit .500 with 17 extra-base hits, five going for homers. Zup hit .407 with 33 hits and 21 RBIs.
“To replace your starting pitcher, starting shortstop, starting centerfielder, starting third baseman that have been there for four years, and to do it all in one swoop, it’s definitely one of the biggest challenges we’ll have going into the 2022 season,” said Pires. “… It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a process.”
Recognized for committing to the next level from Berlin baseball was Connor Gileau (Bentley University), Tyler Rice (University of Connecticut – Avery Point), Patrick Lukens (Bentley University) and Ben Schulz (Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Baseball head coach Leo Veleas pointed out how successful the team has been this season as they anticipate a Class L state final game later this week against top-seeded Daniel Hand. He also said that with this being his first full season as coach, he was learning their strengths as they went and feels they’ll be ready for a higher level when the time comes.
“I didn’t get an opportunity to coach these kids a year ago, so basically I’ve coached them for a year,” said Veleas. “… I didn’t know them, what they were capable of, and it was a learning experience for them and me. … For these kids, high school is easy. When they go to college the competition is going to be greater, … I think they’ll do well.”
Berlin baseball closes its season Saturday, at 7 p.m. at Palmer Field against Daniel Hand.