AVON – Thirty years ago, Lisa Battistoni was a senior at Avon High School. In the fall, she played soccer. In the winter, she was a gymnast for the Falcons. In the spring, she used her speed to run for the track and field team.
She was swift, winning a NCCC championship in the 100 meters in 12.9 seconds. In one race that spring, she ran even faster, setting a new school record of 12.8 seconds. Six years later, Avon’s Jenny Plant tied the record.
Since then, few have come close to that record — until this spring.
Battistoni is now married and known as Lisa Abate. For two weeks this May, she shared the school record in the 100 meters with a third Avon High athlete – her daughter, Riley.
Riley Abate, a sophomore running track for the first time, tied the school record in the 100 meters with a time of 12.8 seconds earlier in May in a dual meet with Northwest Catholic. Riley is thought to be just the fifth Avon High girl – including her mother – to post a time under 13 seconds in the 100 meters.
A year ago, Riley was playing varsity tennis for the Falcons at third singles. But she wanted to be with some of friends and part of the team atmosphere in track and field. In her first 100 meters race, she ran the race in 13.3 seconds. In her next meet, she chopped the time down to 13.03 seconds. Against Northwest Catholic, she joined her mother in the record books.
“I like how every second counts (in the 100 meters),” Riley said. “I have to be (focused) for the whole time (during the race). In the longer distances, I get a little distracted. I like seeing the finish ahead of me.”
Riley was happy to share the record with her mother, Lisa. But it is Riley’s record now. At the Central Connecticut Conference’s Central Division championship meet, Riley claimed the record for her own with a run of 12.76 seconds in qualifying – good enough for third among the top eight qualifiers.
Abate finished second in the CCC Central meet with a time of 12.79 seconds, just holding off the challenge from Conard’s Taylor Davis in 12.84 seconds. Windsor’s Jiana Baker easily won the race in 12.31 seconds.
Still, both Riley and Lisa were thrilled to share the record – even for a short time.
When Lisa was at Avon High, the Falcons ran a cinder track at home. Long spikes were necessary to race on it. Lisa doesn’t remember where she set record – it was 30 years ago – but she thinks it was away from home on a more conventional multi-purpose track that most schools use today.
“To think, I held (the record) as long I did and she was able to do it, too,” Lisa Abate said. Riley knew that her Mom held the school record. So did most of her teammates. One of the Avon High assistant coaches David Zlatin has a list of top 10 historic performances in each event. Every athlete in the track and field program knows what they have to do to achieve a milestone in their respective events.
Lisa has seen the speed that Riley has when she plays soccer. Riley is a defender with her travel soccer team from Farmington Soccer Academy and plays with the Falcons in the fall.
Lisa knew there was the possibility of Riley breaking her record in the 100 meters. “I didn’t want to say anything (about it),” Lisa said. “I wanted this to be fun for her. I didn’t want her to think she had to go and beat (the record).”
Matthew Mooney helps coach the sprinters on the Avon High boys and girls track team. “(Riley) is very quiet but in practice, she is out in front,” he said. “She is already showing leadership. She has gotten better every single week.”
Riley runs in the 100 and 200 meters and on the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams. She was the anchor runner on Avon’s 4×100 relay team that broke their own school record in the CCC Central championship meet.
The Falcons (Shilpa Donde, Carly Carpino, Gina Linley, Riley Abate) finished second in the event with a time of 50.40 seconds, just holding Farmington, which ran a time of 50.45 seconds. Once again, Windsor was far in front with a winning time of 48.10 seconds.
The Avon team broke the record they set a week earlier (50.56 seconds) in another close race in a dual meet with Farmington.
Riley will be competing with the Falcons in the Class MM championships on Wednesday. With some luck, she could be continuing onto the State Open. And she has another two years to compete on the track and field team.
In the coming days, weeks or years, she may lower her 100 meter record. But she will always have the few weeks when Riley and her mother, Lisa, shared the school record as the fastest 100 meter runners to don a Falcon uniform – a unique bond that is seldom duplicated.
Top 10 times
Girls 100 meters
Athlete (Year graduation) Time Event Year
Riley Abate (2018) 12.76 CCC Central qualifying 2016
Riley Abate (2018) 12.79 CCC Central final 2016
Riley Abate (2018) 12.80 Northwest Catholic 2016
Lisa Battistoni (1986) 12.80 1986
Jenny Plant (1992) 12.80
Stephanie Koo (2013) 12.98 Class MM meet 2013
Chamiyah Rowland (2015) 12.99
Riley Abate (2018) 13.03 Windsor 2016
Lisa Leninger (1980) 13.14
Chloe Kryszpin (2010) 13.21