2023-24 Winter Sports Recap


2023-24 Winter Sports Recap

2023-24 Winter Sports Recap

With the snow melted and March break in full swing, the winter athletics season has officially come to an end. Once again, our athletes made us proud; whether on the ice, court, mat, or in the pool. 

The varsity swim team continued its upward trajectory, this year led by new head coach Matt Walker. His goals for the season were all about putting out strong performances to build on in the future. “We have an up-and-coming team that is capable of being competitive at the New England level. I am hopeful that by the end of the season, we’ll have some strong showings that will illustrate our potential.”

It's safe to say that Walker succeeded in revealing the serious potential of his team. The team had a much-improved regular season including a win over rivals Westminster School and a resounding 86 to 39 win over Canterbury School. They concluded their season with an exceptional showing at the NEPSAC New England Championships, placing third overall. On top of that team accomplishment, Robert Riccobon ’25 set a new school record in the 500 free; and our 200 free relay team of Robert, Ryan Indelicato ’24, Brady Tollis ’26, and Andrew Foster ’24 took first place!

Walker has high aspirations for his team going forward. “In the future, I would love to have a team of 20-plus athletes, including multiple divers who can compete for us. I want to work with our athletic directors and the admission department to begin to showcase our program, but I believe that will happen naturally when we begin to show our potential. This year was trying to generate excitement for the program.”

As always, our varsity hockey team upheld their reputation as one of the best high school programs in the country, despite their season ending just short of the New England championship game. A highlight of the season was an instant-classic Westy Monday game which saw Avon’s Magnus Turcotte ’24 score the winner with just forty-six seconds remaining in the game, sending the 200+ members of the Avon Army in attendance into a frenzy. 

The team finished the regular season with a final record of 22 wins and only three losses, earning them the title of Founders League Champions. This qualified them once again for the Elite 8 New England Championship Tournament, the top tier of postseason play. Their opening round game of the tournament was held at the University of Connecticut’s Toscano Family Ice Forum. The Winged Beavers beat Holderness School 2-1 with goals from Ryan Flaherty ’24 and Cooper Snee ’25. 

Captain Chuck Blanchard expressed his appreciation for the strong support all season. “On behalf of the entire hockey team we want to thank all of you for the support over the course of the year. Seeing a great turnout of Avonians up at Cushing meant so much to all of us. Sadly, we didn’t accomplish our end goal, but being able to throw that jersey on and represent this school and all of you was so special. Knowing we had the Avon Army in our corner made a huge difference every single game you guys showed out. You guys are awesome and tough to put into words how much it meant to play in front of you guys,” Chuck said. 

This was the final season for John Riley, who has served Avon Old Farms School as the rink manager since 1993. Everyone associated with the school is thankful for all Riley has done over the last 31 years to help make our hockey program and Avon community so special. 

For the varsity basketball team, it was going to be tough to replace the seven integral seniors that graduated last year, but new team leaders stepped up to ensure that the standards didn’t drop. “I’ve been here when we’ve won a lot, and I’ve been here when we’ve lost a lot. But a strong culture remains constant,” captain Blake Smith ’24 told the Avon Record

There were plenty of notable wins throughout the season, including big wins away from home against Kingswood Oxford, Brunswick, and Trinity-Pawling School. There was some success individually as well. Ben Csernak ’24 was a First Team All Founders League selection. Joel Nash ’26 was awarded Second Team All Founders League, and Blake Smith ’24 was an All-Founders League Honorable Mention.

Head Coach Matt Mihalich expressed his pride at being able to coach this team, and is already looking ahead to next year. “We will miss the Class of 2024, and they have so much to be proud of, but we are excited about our talented returners who can build from the experience of this season to make for an exciting campaign in 2024-25.”

Much like the basketball team, our varsity squash program was mostly comprised of new athletes. One of the few returning players, captain Reid Mather ’24 knew this would be a challenge to overcome. “Even though many people on the team haven’t been playing for long, everyone has shown great improvement as a result of hard work,” Reid said. 

The highlight of the season, among many individual accomplishments, was the 5-2 victory over Canterbury School. “It was easily the best moment of the season. The win felt good because we worked hard for it and every guy on the team contributed,” Reid told the Avon Record

With several members set to return next season, varsity squash will look to build on the culture of hard work and dedication established this season. 

The wrestling season began with a retirement announcement from John “Major” Bourgault ’80, P’ 09, who has been the head wrestling coach for the last 20 years. With added motivation to give Major a positive sendoff, the varsity wrestlers sought and achieved several individual and team successes. 

The final regular season team record was 13 wins and seven losses. At the Western New England Championship meet, the team placed fifth out of 19 teams, and six wrestlers qualified to compete at the New England Championship: Lucas Legere ’27, Lukas Jalinskas ’26, Ahren Lenhoff ’26, Bungo Hayashi ’24, Sasha Khramov ’24, and Sean Park ’24.

Sean Park placed highest among Avon wrestlers, finishing in 4th place for his weight class of 190 lbs. This qualified him for the National Prep Tournament, where he placed 9th in the country. As a result of the successful season, Major was named New England Coach of the Year—a deservedly perfect way to cap off his retirement. 

Student athletes participating in spring sports are already gearing up for action. Over March break, several of our teams traveled for pre-season tournaments including a lacrosse trip to the San Diego area where students also had the opportunity to watch Head Coach Kyle Jackson play in the National Lacrosse League.