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Nearly Two Dozen Former Nighthawks Getting Set For First Taste Of Collegiate Sports



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(Readers may note that a number of these athletes were highlighted when their collegiate plans were announced in earlier editions of The Bee.)

From track and field to lacrosse and including many sports in between, 22 athletes representing ten Newtown High School teams, have been recruited and will take their games to the next level. Ranging from Division I to D-III, these standouts — some of whom have set records and been a part of championships — have plans to continue their athletic playing careers in college next year.

Baseball: Zach Majeski (Clarkson University), Karl Miller (Nichols College), Jack Petersen (University of Connecticut), Zach Kugler (Western Connecticut State University), Chase Demers (Gordon College), and Jack Warner (Endicott College).

“I’m really excited to play at the next level. As a pitcher I’m always interested to see how my stuff plays at higher levels and I think playing at the collegiate level is the next big test for me,” said Kugler, who helped the Nighthawks qualify for the South-West Conference and state tournaments this spring.

“I could not be more excited to play baseball in college. My parents and coaches have pushed me to be the best player I could be and I’m happy to play on the next level,” Miller added.

Baseball Coach Ian Thoesen will no doubt have some cleats to fill on his diamond next spring and is excited to see what the future holds for these former Nighthawks.

“All of these guys have been a big part of our program on and off the field. They’re leaders and will be successful wherever they go,” Thoesen said.

Track and Field: Hampton Cobb and Grant Baker (both attending Shenandoah University).

Both atletes were standouts in the field events, with Cobb capping off his career with a fifth-place finish in the Class LL state championship long jump competition and Baker earning sixth in the shot-put event and seventh in the discus throw.

“I’m extremely excited to move to the next level in my track and field career, and I think Shenandoah will provide a great opportunity for me to do that. I was recently talking with one of my new coaches at Shenandoah and one thing I noticed was that there’s a lot more event-specific training instead of just general practice,” Cobb said.

Cobb added that some of his favorite memories from high school track are the high-level meets such as the SWC and state championships.

“I’m looking to continue progressing in track and field and have my personal bests continually increase. I expect and hope for more work with the team and a harder practice regimen,” said Baker, adding that he will miss the day-long meets with the team and the bus rides.

Girls’ Lacrosse: Julia Gerace (Catholic), Emily Hammond (Salve Regina), Shea Murphy (Kennesaw State), and Emma Magazu (University of New Hampshire).

“I am so excited about being able to play at Catholic. The people in my class are already getting along really well and I think we are stepping into a great, winning program so I’m just excited to get down there and continue that tradition,” Gerace said. “I think it will be a lot more work because it is at the college level and it’s a much bigger commitment. It will be different, but you also have more time in college to do workouts and practice and stuff.”

Newtown High had a strong season this past spring, and reached the conference title game. Gerace has fond memories from previous seasons as well as this past campaign, including a nail-biting win over a New Fairfield team that had edged the Nighthawks earlier in the slate.

“My favorite memories from high school lacrosse include beating Glastonbury my sophomore year, avenging our loss to New Fairfield in overtime, all of our Cover Two (Sports Café) trips, and the bus rides. Those I will never forget,” Gerace said.

“I am extremely excited for lacrosse at Salve. I can’t wait to play at the next level and be part of a team. I can’t picture my life without a sport, and that is one of the reasons I decided to continue playing,” Hammond said. “I expect it will definitely be different. It is a faster pace, but I know I can keep up. The work may be hard but it will just be worth it for something I have such a passion for. Coach (Maura) Fletcher has prepared me for what it is to come and I am ready.”

“Some of my favorite memories are team bonding freshman year, senior night, pasta parties. My favorite memory overall is winning, but also losing with the team — we do everything as one big family,” Hammond added.

Fletcher points out that her college-bound players will be missed and will miss their days with the Nighthawks, but will make new friends and enjoy their next chapter in lacrosse.

Football: Connor Breslin (Stonehill College), Luke Hannan (Middlebury), Zach Smith (Western New England). This past fall was an odd one for football but the Nighthawks made the most of their 7-on-7, no tackle campaign. Newtown won the SWC East Division. These Nighthawks had stellar careers and were part of the program when the Hawks captured the 2019 state championship.

“Obviously very excited to see these guys get an opportunity to continue to play,” NHS Football Coach Bobby Pattison said. “We’re excited to see them play on Saturday afternoons at their respective colleges.”

Boys’ Lacrosse: Jeffrey Garrity (Bryant). Garrity was injured during his senior season and will look forward to a return the field at the next level. He will make a big jump, having only played two years of high school lacrosse. He did, however, have quite a career and set the program’s all-time points record as a sophomore.

Girls’ Volleyball: Kate Petersen (Susquehanna University). Petersen, a standout at the net, contributed both with spikes for points and blocks to stymie the opposition. Petersen helped the Hawks win the South-West Conference North Division title in the fall.

Hockey: Phil Makris (Johnson and Wales) and Eli Kirby (University of Tampa). The hockey team reached the conference championship game this past winter with Makrus and Kirby making big contributions along the way. Makris scored more than 100 career points.

Girls’ Basketball: Maddie Patrick (Hobart and William Smith Colleges). Patrick transferred to Newtown High when Waterbury-based Chase Collegiate School closed for the school year. Patrick helped the volleyball team win the conference title and was a standout in the paint for the basketball team.

Girls’ Swimming: Caroline Mahoney (Holy Cross). Mahoney set multiple individual event record and contributed to relay records as the swim team broke a total of eight of them during a successful fall season.

Field Hockey: Katie Goyda (Bryant). Goyda set program points and goal-scoring records in her standout career. She helped the Nighthawks win all but one regular-season game and also capture the SWC Team Sportsmanship Award.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Connor Breslin runs with the ball during 7-on-7 game action this past fall. Breslin will continue his playing career at the collegiate level. —Bee file photos
Eli Kirby puts a shot on goal during action at Danbury Ice Arena this past winter.
Katie Goyda moves the ball between defenders at Blue & Gold Stadium.
Zach Majeski throws a pitch during a game at Fairfield Hills.
Karl Miller digs in for an at-bat at Masuk of Monroe during the SWC playoffs.
Maddie Patrick turns the corner on a Notre Dame-Fairfield defender as Coach Jeremy O’Connell looks on.
Shea Murphy makes a pass from behind the goal.
Julia Gerace and the lacrosse team reached the conference title game.
Caroline Mahoney had some record-setting swims in the fall.
Kate Petersen defends at the net during a home match.
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