ARKEEL NEWSOME, CASEY PEARSALL NAMED CONNECTICUT SPORTS WRITERS' ALLIANCE HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR.
Arkeel Newsome, the Ansonia High School running back who set a new state record for career rushing touchdowns this past fall as only a junior, and Wilton High School senior Casey Pearsall, one of the most prolific three-sport student-athletes in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, have been selected as the Hal Levy High School Athletes of the Year by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance.
This is the second year of the award, which is named in memory of the late Shore Line Newspapers sports editor and former CSWA president and longtime member.
In the inaugural year, only one athlete was selected and that honor went to Casey Cochran, the former Masuk High School quarterback, now a member of the UConn football program.
The award was expanded this year to honor two recipients with Newsome named the Hal Levy High School Male Athlete of the Year and Pearsall selected as the Hal Levy High School Female Athlete of the Year.
They will be honored at the 72nd Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 28 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
This year’s Gold Key winners are former NBA player Mike Gminski, E.O. Smith boys soccer coach John Blomstrann, UConn field hockey coach Nancy Stevens, Staples cross country and track coach John “Laddie” Lawrence and former New Haven College basketball star Gary Liberatore.
In addition, Tina Charles, the 2012 WNBA Most Valuable Player with the Connecticut Sun, will receive the Hank O’Donnell Female Athlete of the Year Award, while one-time Hamden resident and current Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, the MVP of last year’s NHL playoffs, is the Bill Lee Male Athlete of the Year Award recipient.
Other award winners will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Hal Levy Award is the latest honor bestowed upon Arkeel Newsome, who was recently selected as the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Connecticut Player of the Year for the second straight season.
He was also named to the Max Preps Junior Class All-America Football Team, and to the New Haven Register All-State Team for the second year in a row after being selected as its Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Despite missing one full game and part of another in 2012, Newsome still scored 41 touchdowns and rushed for 2,245 yards as he helped lead the Chargers to a second straight 14-0 season and another Class S state title.
He scored three TDs and ran for 237 yards in Ansonia’s 59-26 victory over North Branford in the Class S final.
In the semifinals, he had four touchdowns and 207 yards on only 15 carries as the top-seeded Chargers beat Hyde 41-13.
All that coming on the heels of a record-breaking sophomore year which saw Newsome score a state-record 62 touchdowns while setting a single-season rushing record in Connecticut with 3,763 yards.
That broke the mark of 3,596 yards set by another Ansonia back, Alex Thomas, in 2007.
With one season still to go, Newsome has already rewritten much of the state record book.
Throw in the 16 TDs he scored as a freshman and Newsome has a state-record 119 career touchdowns.
He has also rushed for 6,805 yards on 610 carries (11.1 average), and needs 1,474 yards next season to become the state’s all-time leading rusher.
Thomas is the current leader with 8,279 yards, and Newsome’s 740 career points is only seven behind Thomas for another state record.
By the time Casey Pearsall graduates from Wilton High this June, she will have won 12 varsity letters as a four-year starter in the sports of soccer, basketball and lacrosse.
In the 2012 calendar year alone, Pearsall helped lead the WHS girls basketball team to the FCIAC semifinals and to the second round of the state Class L tournament for the second straight year.
She averaged 15 points and five assists a game.During lacrosse season in the spring, she continued to climb in the school's record books as a midfielder who earned All-FCIAC, All-State and All-America honors as a junior.
She recorded more than 130 points on the season as Wilton, which had won back-to-back FCIAC titles during Pearsall's first two years, made the semifinals of the league tournament and played for the Class M championship, falling to New Canaan.
This past fall, Pearsall was a center midfielder for the Warriors’ girls soccer team and led the Warriors to their second straight FCIAC playoff appearance while reaching the Class L state quarterfinals.
She scored 10 goals, dished out eight assists and was a key defender as she earned All-State and All-FCIAC first team honors for the third straight year.
On a national level, Pearsall was just as impressive as she represented not just Wilton High School, but all of Connecticut as one of 12 finalists for the Wendy's High School Heisman Trophy, an award which considers not just a student-athlete’s on-the-field exploits, but also those in the classroom and her community.
Pearsall has already committed to Notre Dame, where she has received a full scholarship to play lacrosse for the Fighting Irish.
Tickets to the 2013 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., can be purchased by contacting either CSWA President George Albano of The (Norwalk) Hour at (203) 434-2320 or Vice President and Dinner Chairman Bob Ehalt of The New Haven Register at Ehalt.Bob@sbcglobal.net.