All kids have questions to answer as they graduate from high school. Go to college, or go to work? What’s next? How do I spend this summer, and where does life take me?
Weston’s Emily Savage and Masuk’s Thomas Milone, the Connecticut Post High School Athletes of the Year, have — or had — those questions. They still left the playing fields here with a couple of exclamations.
Milone became the highest local schoolboy Major League Baseball draft pick in a decade, hitting a home run in his last time at bat in high school. Savage went undefeated in the outdoor track and field season in the pole vault, winning a national championship.
“I guess what really drove me this season was indoor season,” said Savage, who’ll attend Oklahoma.
She said she doesn’t like to look at the marks, the heights she vaults; she just wants to surpass them. She had been mostly vaulting in the 10- and 11-foot range over the past couple of years.
“I didn’t think I was going to get much higher than that,” Savage said. “They came out of nowhere.”
They came one after the other.
Meet records in indoor season at the Class S meet and the State Open, including a 12-foot, 7-inch vault at the class meet. Meet records in outdoor season in Class M and at the Open, including a 13-foot vault. A 12-10 3/4 vault last week in Greensboro, N.C., at New Balance Nationals.
Milone’s numbers were about as stark: a .471 batting average, 28 steals in 29 attempts, 27 runs, three doubles, two triples.
The fourth home run of his senior season cleared the right-field fence, over the 408-foot sign at his spacious home field, in what will be his last at-bat as an amateur.
“It’s the only one I’ve ever seen hit at Masuk, and there are only two since I’m in the building,” Panthers baseball coach Ralph Franco said.
The ball landed, Franco said, beyond the right-field fence, in the road that leads down the hill to Benedict Field.
Milone had his moments down there, too. In the fall, he had over 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving, for 32 combined touchdowns. He added another three touchdowns on special teams.
As a sophomore, he caught a 61-yard touchdown pass from Casey Cochran to spark a 50-20 win over New Canaan in the 2010 Class L state final.
“Obviously I’ll remember all the teams, everything about them,” Milone said. “Leaning on each other.
“The most memorable will be the state championship in football,” he said.
John Murphy, Masuk’s football coach until this winter, remembered hearing stories seven or eight years ago about the little brother of one of his players. He became, in Murphy’s words, “like a mythical figure.”
Then Thomas Milone actually showed up at Masuk.
“What a humble superstar,” Murphy said.
“When Thomas came to us, obviously, we all in Monroe knew him from when he was a little kid. He was so head-and-shoulders above everyone, but you’d never, never know that about him, not the way he treated his teammates, not the way he treated his coaches.”
The two-sport star drew Major League scouts to Monroe in both seasons. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the third round and made the decision this week to sign a pro contract.
“The kid did something just about every day in practice to make you shake your head,” Murphy said. “You’d say, `That’s just Thomas.'”
Savage had those moments, too. She said a turning point was in indoor season, the first time she was going for 12-2, a state record. In warmup, she rolled her ankle.
“My coach said do what you can. I watched the other girls warming up with a bag of ice on my ankle,” Savage said.
“They were jumping pretty high. I said, `I don’t want to be the loser laying on the mat.'”
She got up, warmed up, vaulted.
“I think that confidence helped me get 12-2,” Savage said. “The injury lasted the whole indoor season, but it didn’t slow me down.”
Outdoor season ended in a national title. She graduated on Wednesday and headed straight out to Iowa for the Junior Olympics.
She cleared 12-5 1/2, good for a sixth-place finish and All-America status on a windy day in Des Moines. Megan Clark, a rising sophomore at Duke, won at 13-7 1/4.
“It was a fun meet,” she said. “I did well for myself.”
It was one last exclamation point on a brilliant season.