Barlow Hall of Fame inducts 14

Dave Spencer, center, was among 14 former athletes, coaches and administrators inducted into the Joel Barlow High Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017 on Nov. 11 at Redding Country Club. Also pictured is former boys soccer coach and Hall of Fame member Jim Dolan, left, and Barlow Athletic Director Mike Santangeli. — Nikki Kaldawy photo

Fourteen former players, coaches and administrators were inducted into the Joel Barlow High Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017 on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Redding Country Club.

Hailing from several decades in school history, the inductees all had a lasting impact on the school’s athletic program. Selections were based on participation in athletics, performance, league and state recognition, statistics, awards, and other criteria.

Members of this year’s class include the following:

Mark Allenbach (1999)

An All-Conference selection in football, he was also All-State in football as well as wrestling and was a team captain in all both sports as well as in volleyball. Allenbach later went on to play four years of football at Georgetown University and received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Virginia.

Jerry Bielizna (coach)

Having led the boys cross country team for the past 44 years, he has the longest coaching career in Barlow history. The Falcons captured the final Western Connecticut Conference championship in 1994 and won the inaugural South-West Conference championship the following year. During his tenure Barlow also won five state championships.

Bielizna also led the boys track and field team to a WCC championships in 1985. In 1995 he received the Connecticut Interscholastic Track Coaches Association award. He also was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association outstanding coach of the year for 2003-04.

Kristen Brown Tartaglia (1989)

Brown was the first girl in Barlow history to qualify for the State Open meet and girls cross country and did it three years. She went on to set the course record at Eastern Connecticut State University with a first-place finish at the 1987 state championship meet.

By the time she graduated from Barlow she held records for the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in girls track. She was later captain of the Springfield College cross country team, which won four straight conference titles during her time there.

Jamie Buttendorf (1970)

A standout in football and track, Buttendorf set a Barlow and conference record in the 100 meters. He later attended Milford Academy Prep and was named first-team all New England prep school as a wide receiver in 1970.

Mark Govertsen (1966)

A three-sport athlete at Barlow, he played basketball and ran track and cross country. He was conference champion in the long jump, high jump, 220, 440 and the 800 relay. At the class meet he was second in the 440 and 220.

Govertsen went on to compete in Division 1 track at Taylor University.

Rebecca MacLean Audet (2001)

Audet was Barlow’s leading scorer in field hockey in 1999 and 2000. A four-time All-SWC selection, she was All-state three times. She placed first in the state in the high hurdles, third in New England and competed nationally.

Audet died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 29.

Karen McGuire Puskas (1981)

A three-year starter in softball, she led the team at home runs, hits and RBI her junior and senior years. Puskas was an All-WCC selection in basketball her junior and senior years and was a team MVP three times. By the time she graduated she set the Barlow scoring record with 902 points.

At Hawthorne College she was a four-year starter in basketball and three-year captain and was an All-Mayflower Conference selection her sophomore, junior and senior years. At the time of graduation she was the all-time leading scorer, with 1,185 points.

Puskas later returned to Barlow and coached girls basketball.

Jen Nixon Mathis (1990)

Mathis was a three-time All-WCC selection in field hockey as well as a three-time All-WCC selection in girls tennis. She went on to earn a full scholarship for field hockey at Boston University, where she went on to receive many accolades.

Amber Radomski (1999)

Radomski was a two-time All-SWC selection in softball. At American International College she was the winning pitcher for the championship in 2003 and was an All-Northeast 10 Conference first-team selection. She was later inducted into the Connecticut Scholastic Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame and the Connecticut USA ASA Fastpitch Softball Hall of Fame.

Kevin Reardon (1972)

The WCC boys track champion in both the 220 and 440 in 1971 and 1972, Reardon was also state Class M champion in the latter event in 1971.

Reardon later coached at Farmington High School in boys track and led the team to the Class M state championship in 1982 and 1983.

John Slais (teacher, coach, assistant principal (1962-1994)

Slais began his service to Barlow as an English teacher. He remained in this position until 1969, when he transitioned into administration as assistant principal for 25 years. While an English teacher, he coached both the golf and cross country teams, the latter capturing the WCC championship.

When Slais served as the assistant principal, he was active in overseeing many sporting events, including countless football and basketball games.

David Spencer (1980)

Spencer was a three-year starter in football and baseball and was a two-time All-WCC selection in the former. He led the team as well as the WCC in hitting his senior year with a .442  batting average and was a member of the WCC championship team in 1980.

Chosen to play in the senior All-Star game, he later tried out for the Cincinnati Reds.

Stew Strong (1984)

Strong was co-MVP and a member of the All-WCC tournament team in 1984 in basketball. In baseball he was MVP and an All-WCC Briggs Division selection and Class M honorable mention.

He played four years of baseball at the University of Connecticut and was captain of the team in 1988 before going on to play professionally for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as well as in the Netherlands.

Ben Visnyei (2001)

Visnyei was one of the fiercest competitors in Barlow soccer history. An All-SWC, All-State and All-New England selection at Barlow, he helped lead the team to three straight league championships and a state championship in 1999.

Visnyei played four years at Ithaca College and was captain for three. In his freshman season he was Empire 8 Conference Rookie of the Year and a two-time member of the Empire 8 All-Star team.

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