WESTON, Conn. — David Stankiewicz was one of the most decorated track and field athletes to run for Weston High School. Remembrances from coaches and teammates paint him as an even better person.
Stankiewicz, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, died Saturday. The cause of death was not specified.
At Weston, former coach Marty Ogden remembered Stankiewicz as a quiet leader.
“As a runner, David was willing to step up at all times and do whatever the team needed,’’ said Ogden, who coached him in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. “He was really easygoing. The kids gravitated toward him. They all respected him.”
Stankiewicz won multiple South-West Conference championships and helped Weston take third in the 4 x 800 relay in the New England Championships as a freshman. As a sophomore, he finished fifth in the State Open in the 800 and qualified for the New England Championships. He ran a leg on Weston’s victorious 4 x 400 relay in the 2013 Class M outdoor track and field championships. That year, he also anchored the 4 x 800 relay team to a fourth-place finish in Class M.
“He was an incredible competitor,’’ Ogden said. “Even when he lost, he finished hard through the finish line and left everything out there. He didn’t expect things to be given to him. He went out and worked for everything he got.”
“He was the kind of guy that put the team first,’’ said Noah Krassin, a friend and former teammate at Weston High. “David was there to do anything and everything the coach asked.”
Krassin remembered one championship meet when Stankiewicz had pushed himself to the brink of exhaustion in a couple of races. But Weston needed to win the final event, the 4 x 400 relay, to take the meet. Stankiewicz ran the team's anchor leg.
“Coach went up to him and said how are you feeling?’’ Krassin said. “And David said he was pretty beat. Coach asked him about running the relay. He said, ‘Don’t worry coach, I got this.' Then he went out and killed it, we won the meet, and for the rest of the season, we joked about it. He’d rather have won relays and team championships that individual events.”
David Stankiewicz was the son of Marek and Dorota Stankiewicz. His younger brother, Kevin, is a junior at Weston High and also runs on the school’s track team. He is also survived by his younger sister, Sandra.
“David was more than just a brother to me,’’ Kevin wrote on Facebook. “He was my best friend. Someone who I could talk to when I needed someone. For those who knew him, you know you could always rely on David to make you smile, laugh, or anything you needed him to do. To me he's the perfect person and I will always try my hardest to be like him. I love you David Stankiewicz, never forget that.”
While Krassin said Stankiewicz was “as tough as nails” as a competitor, he also had a playful side.
In one cross country race against New Fairfield, Ogden told Stankiewicz and Krassin to run comfortably but controlled, and not get into all out race against the Rebels’ top runner. They pulled ahead and were running together when Krassin asked Stankiewicz to finish together. “The sentiment was obvious. But with about 200 meters left, he went off like a rocket. I asked him, ‘What the hell was that?’ He said, ‘I thought you wanted to race?’ I said no, I wanted to finish side by side! We laughed about that for a long time.”
Krassin, now a senior at Lafayette College and a member of the track team, said it is their friendship away from the track that he’ll recall most vividly. They were part of a group of about five friends who would frequently hang out on a boat owned by Krassin and his family, and doing absolutely nothing meant everything to all of them.
“We were The Boat Crew,’’ Krassin said. “We’d sit on the boat and go tubing, watch videos, or go back to his house and play Mario Party. We’re pretty simple. We didn’t have to be doing something to have a good time. We could just be on the boat watching a standup comedy act on Netflix and it was the greatest thing ever. We’d be doing nothing and it wouldn’t matter. I was looking forward to doing that again this summer. We’ll still do it, but we’re sure going to remember David while we’re doing it.”
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