Three Wins In A Row For Blue Devils

Liam Hasset avoids a check on his way to two goals and an assist for the Blue Devils.  Photo/Erik Krisch

Liam Hasset avoids a check on his way to two goals and an assist for the Blue Devils. Photo/Erik Krisch

A furious second half rally propelled the Huntington boys’ lacrosse team to a 12-11 victory over Half Hollow Hills West at Hofstra University last Friday night.

The Blue Devils trailed 8-5 at halftime, but outscored the Colts 7-3 over the final 24 minutes.

Robbie Smith led Huntington with four goals. The freshman has 18 goals and an assist this spring.

Liam Hasset scored two goals and added an assist. Jonathan Koumas also scored twice in the game. Jordan McCoy had a goal and three assists. Pat Durand and Jack Krisch both tallied a goal and an assist. Luke Luckow also scored a goal.

Huntington goalie Aedan McDonald recorded seven saves in the cage. The Blue Devils’ defense held Hills West at bay in the final minutes of the closely fought game.

Christian Mule led Hills West with six goals and two assists in the losing effort.

Colts goalie Jake Zacharakis also played well in the game. He made 12 saves, stopping 50 percent of the shots he faced.

Despite the wet weather, both teams enjoyed playing on the Hofstra Stadium turf field. The non-league victory improved Huntington’s overall record to 5-4 this season. The Colts overall record fell to 3-6.

“It was a great experience and a great feeling to come out with a win,” McDonald said. “Getting to play on a college field and seeing the locker room was really cool. Our team put everything together and played great. There are still things we need to work on and we are going to continue to push ourselves.”

The victory was the second one-goal win in a week for the Blue Devils. Entering the game, Huntington was on a hot streak. The Blue Devils had won four of thier last five games.

The Blue Devils are striving to continue their hot play. Coming from behind to best Hills West was a confidence booster for Huntington.

“The key to winning the game was our team’s ability to get everyone involved,” Durand said. “We have tons of talent all over the field and when we play as one, we are a very dangerous team.”

As the regular season hits the home stretch, second year head coach Julian Watts is pushing his team to keep playing well and pay attention to all the little things.

Catching passes, picking up ground balls, playing tough defense and “getting everyone involved” have taken on heightened importance as the Blue Devils drive to secure a playoff berth, Watts said.

The Blue Devils are in the hunt for a playoff spot in Suffolk Division I. Huntington plays a non-league game at ColdSpringHarbor on Thursday night at 7 p.m. There are home games remaining with Lindenhurst, Southampton and Northport and away contests at Sachem North, Commack and North Babylon.

Friars Get Back To Their Winning Ways

Senior attackman Philip Polo rips a shot. He scored a goal for the Friars Tuesday against St. Ignatius.   Photo/St. Anthony;’s High School

Senior attackman Philip Polo rips a shot. He scored a goal for the Friars Tuesday against St. Ignatius.
Photo/St. Anthony;’s High School

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

After suffering a 7-13 defeat against arch-rival Chaminade earlier this month, the St. Anthony’s varsity boys lacrosse team was looking to get back to winning ways Tuesday when they faced off against St. Ignatius.

St. Anthony’s, a perennial Catholic High School Athletic Association powerhouse, improved their record to 6-1 with this week’s 13-10 victory.

Junior faceoff man Jake Naso was dominant from the first whistle for the Friars. He won 21 of 25 faceoffs. His play helped keep the Friars on the offensive and limit St. Ignatius’s chance to build momentum.

Senior captain Jake Bonomi and junior Brennan O’Neil, both attackmen, led St. Anthony’s with four goals apiece.

Junior midfielders Aidan Danenza and Jack Walshe helped the Friars control the middle of the field and each scored a goal.

Senior attackman Philip Polo also notched a goal for St. Anthony’s.

Senior captain Greg Campisi, a long stick middie, provided leadership on both sides of the ball for the Friars. In addition to his defensive duties, Campisi scored a goal.

In the cage, junior goaltender Alex Pazienza made seven saves. Pazienza has made more than 50 saves in seven games this season for St. Anthony’s.

The Friars will try to stay undefeated before their second meeting of the season with Chaminade on May 15.

St. Anthony’s next game is scheduled for Thursday, April 18 at 4 p.m. at home against YorktownHigh School.

Elwood Ninja Warrior Goes the Distance

James H. Boyd fifth-grader David Futeran competed on the American Ninja Warrior Junior TV show reaching the semifinals of the tough competition.  Photo/Elwood Schools

James H. Boyd fifth-grader David Futeran competed on the American Ninja Warrior Junior TV show reaching the semifinals of the tough competition. Photo/Elwood Schools

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Strength, skill and speed propelled David Futeran far on the American Ninja Warrior Junior course this season. The fifth-grader in Elwood’s James Boyd Elementary School made it to the semifinals of the kids’ version of the popular American Ninja Warrior television show, taking on challenging obstacle courses that tested his dexterity.

Futeran has wanted to compete on American Ninja Warrior Junior since the first time he watched the show. He started by “literally climbing the walls” of his house and progressed to pursue gymnastics, climbing and ninja training.

“Before watching it, I was still pretty active and it was a dream,” Futeran said. “But over time I built up to it and it became more of a goal than a dream.”

The 10-year-old dedicates himself to practicing gymnastics three times a week and climbing two hours a week. He showed off his skills at a local “ninja gym” where he ran through obstacles like those on the show, and submitted six videos. His believes his training in gymnastics greatly helped him to tackle these hurdles.

“For gymnastics, I stretch then practice all the events,” Futeran said. “Most days it usually goes, vault, high bar, floor, pommel horse, t-bars then rings.”

Futeran said he remained hyper-focused as he completed the American Ninja Junior obstacle course.

Futeran said he remained hyper-focused as he completed the American Ninja Junior obstacle course.

The ANWJ course puts competitors head-to-head. Warriors run side by side to reach the finishing button first. Futeran had practiced on obstacle courses, but nothing would prepare him for the atmosphere of the race, he said.

“It’s basically the same thing, except a bigger crowd and more on the line,” Futeran said.

His quick moves, long leaps, and love for feeling weightless earned him the nickname “Flying Squirrel.” They also took him far and earned him a best time of 42.37 seconds.

His key was staying hyper-focused.

“I would take a couple of deep breaths and wipe my feet off,” Futeran said. “I cleared out every other thought from my head.”

Kids compete in age brackets of 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14 on the original ANW six-obstacle course.

“They’re just scaled down just a little bit for the different heights and the different sizes of the kids we’re dealing with,” executive producer and director, Kent Weed said.

The tic toc was reduced to a 30-inch diameter and the warped wall scaled down to 13 feet. The warped wall challenges contestants to climb a steep wall and grab a ledge at the top. Futeran had attempted the warped wall prior to the competition, while adapting to the rest of the challenges on the fly.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to practice those specific obstacles, because we didn’t know what they would be,” Futeran said. “But once I saw them, I knew I had done stuff that was pretty similar to it in gymnastics.”

Futeran hopes to return to conquer the adult version of American Ninja.

Futeran hopes to return to conquer the adult version of American Ninja.

Futeran got to know his fellow competitors and enjoyed meeting kids with the same passion and interests. He was also supported by ninjas he had met training back home.

“I don’t really have a coach or a team, but there is a sort of an unofficial group of East coast ninjas. We have no coach but are pretty much on the same team because we help each other,” Futeran said.

American Ninja Warrior Junior airs on Saturday nights at 7 p.m. on Universal Kids. Futeran was thrilled to see himself race in the semifinals on the episode that aired April 6.

“It was very different watching myself, because I knew what was gonna happen,” Futeran said. “But it was also really cool to see how they projected me and what they said.”

Looking to the future, Futeran is determined to return and win the adult version of American Ninja Warrior.

Blue Devils Burn Up The Track Against Smithtown

Jason Turner, right, on his way to victory for Huntington. Turner won the 100m and 200m dashes and the 4x100m relay against Smithtown West

Jason Turner, right, on his way to victory for Huntington. Turner won the 100m and 200m dashes and the 4x100m relay against Smithtown West

The Huntington High School boys’ track and field teams faced off against Smithtown West earlier this month in a close meet that finshed in a 76-65 Blue Devils victory.

Blue Devils coach Ron Wilson knew it was going to be a tight meet, and since Huntington pulled off an upset of Smithtown West last spring the Bulls were hoping to return the favor this season.

“West had come into that meet having won the Section XI indoor county championships with an awesome team,” Wilson said. “This year’s match-up was no different. It was a meet that once again went down to the very end. Almost four hours of competing; virtually unheard of for a dual meet.”

Smithtown West is considered the proverbial powerhouse of distance running, while Huntington boasts the stronger sprinters and throwers.

“Both teams had athletes and 4x400m relay teams that qualified for the state and national meets this past indoor season,” Wilson said.

Huntington led 65 to 52 going into the triple jump, which was the last event before the relays.

“We needed to get at least one point in the event,” Wilson said.

Smithtown’s Gavin Baker is one of the top jumpers in Suffolk County. He had already leaped 21-04 feet in the long jump, just shy of Blue Devil senior Johnathan Smith’s jump of 21-09.50 feet, but ahead of Huntington sophomore Anthony Joseph’s 21-02 feet.

Baker went on to win the triple jump with a leap of 43-07 feet, but Huntington junior Rahliek Thomason came up with a jump of 40-02 feet to capture third place and the one point the Blue Devils needed.

Craig Haas on his way to third place in the 800m run for Huntington.

Craig Haas on his way to third place in the 800m run for Huntington.

Now leading 66-60, all Huntington had to do was win one of the three relay races. Smithtown West breezed to victory in the 4x800m relay adding five points to their total score to narrow the Bulls’ deficit to 66-65.

Huntington’s 4x400m relay of Justin Stevens, Isaiah James, CJ Kiviat and Smith went wire-to-wire in 3:30 to clinch the meet for the Blue Devils. The 4x100m relay team of Nasir Youngblood, Josiah Melendez, Jason Turner and Joseph also coasted to victory in the fine time of 44.8 seconds to give Huntington an 11-point win in the league meet.

In other events during the meet, Blue Devils senior Eric Sands won the shot put with a throw of 49-10 feet and the discus with a toss of 122 feet. Senior Jaden Bholan won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet.

Turner dominated the sprinting events in his individual races as well as the relay. He won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes for the Blue Devils.

Blue Devils junior Craig Haas placed third in the 800m run.

The 2-0 Blue Devils were slated to travel to undefeated Copiague to take on the Eagles after deadline Wednesday, April 10.

John Glenn Baseball Looking To Dominate

The Elwood baseball team is ready for a solid season on the diamond.

The Elwood baseball team is ready for a solid season on the diamond.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Maintaining control and building momentum on the baseball field will be the focus for the Elwood-John Glenn varsity team as they look forward to the rest of the season.

The Knights battled to 7-6 victory against Huntington on Monday. Head coach Matthew Rocchio feels the team has come together over the past weeks and played well so far, with a record of 2-1in league play.

“They’ve been showing a lot of heart,” Rocchio said. “We came back from five runs the other day and won, which was great for our first game against Babylon.”

This season the boys have concentrated on reducing errors on the field that allow the opposing team to get on base or score. It is crucial that the team’s pitchers are throwing strikes and fielders solid on defense.

“We just want to minimize the mental mistakes, as the season goes on, that should improve,” Rocchio said. “We want to play up to our ability and show that off.”

Rocchio said the Knights’ batting lineup for the season is starting to take shape, and he feels can deliver at the plate.

Junior Nicholas Aufiero batted .330 as a sophomore last season.

Junior Nicholas Aufiero batted .330 as a sophomore last season.

“A big thing is momentum,” Rocchio said. “We want to carry a momentum, whether it’s a big strikeout or getting some base hits the next inning. It’s huge for us.”

The team was fortunate enough to practice outside at the start of the season, something that hasn’t always been possible with cold weather. This allowed coaches to evaluate players in a game mentality early on. Rocchio said players break up into groups at practice, and work on specific drills for their position before they come together for team games.

“We try to put all the players in ‘game-like’ situations, so if something does happens in a game, they’ve seen the situation before,” Rocchio said. “If they haven’t seen it before, the next time we have practice we’ll go over what they should do.”

Although the team is mostly underclassmen, Rocchio feels the boys possesses the talent to go far. Many of the athletes worked hard in offseason, voluntarily practicing two nights a week in the winter.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” Rocchio said. “A lot of the younger guys will be getting more play time and show they can handle it. It’s going to be interesting since we are in a tough league, I’m excited to see what the season brings.”

Matthew Polestino has already hit a homerun this season, and has proven himself as a great pitcher and outfielder. Coming out of the bullpen, Rocco Fratarcangeli will play a key role as the team’s closer.

Nicholas DiDiego, a three-year varsity veteran, began as a catcher, but transitioned to first base and pitcher to utilize his strong throwing arm. The team is also expecting big things from Nicholas Aufiero, who batted .330 as a sophomore last season.

Matt Polestino prepares himself at the plate.  Photos courtesy Matthew Rocchio

Matt Polestino prepares himself at the plate. Photos courtesy Matthew Rocchio

“I don’t have captains chosen, but they run themselves and know who the leaders are,” Rocchio said. “I let them take the lead with this, it’s whoever steps up into the leadership role.”

This year, Glenn welcomed assistant coach Billy Riedel to the staff. The former Knights catcher has extensive knowledge of the game of baseball.

This is Rocchio’s third year with varsity after coaching junior varsity and at Briarcliff College. In that time he’s learned when to rest his players.

“I have to communicate with them constantly, about when we need a lighter day,” Rocchio said. “We usually have a light day when we have two games in a row, we still work but I try not to have them throw as much.”

The Knights will play an average of three times a week for a total of 20 games this season. Each game brings a new challenge, with different players, abilities and styles.

“We don’t know what the other teams are doing right now, all we can really do is play our own game and see what happens,” Rocchio said.

Glenn is eager to take on Harborfields in a rivalry game that will played under the lights of Greenlawn Park on April 16.

Seahawks Hockey Claims County Championship

Cold Spring Harbor hockey team membs and coaches pile in for a photo after winning the Nassau championship.

Cold Spring Harbor hockey team membs and coaches pile in for a photo after winning the Nassau championship.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Cold Spring Harbor varsity ice hockey team glided into school history in February winning the program’s first ever County Championship.

Coming out of a regular season that had a few bumps along the road, the Seahawks were amped up to show what they were made of during the playoffs. Their first game against Bellmore-Merrick was close, but the boys stuck it out and won 5-4.

The Seahawks were down until the final period in their semi-final game against Syosset, but scored crutial third-period goals to win. Their final challenge was to beat Long Beach in a best two out of three series.

“We knew our backs were against the wall, we were the underdog going in,” head coach Sean Considine said. “But I just kept telling them to stick to our plan, the way we like to play and good things are gonna happen. Once we got that first win in the finals series, the kids had some confidence and knew they could definitely do it.”

Although the Seahawks had lost to each of their playoff opponents in the regular season, they beat each of them when it counted to end the season with a record of 17-4-1.

Considine relied on the junior class many of whom had faced off against Long Beach at the Middle School Championship years before, as his core group.

“They knew they could play with them, but they had to play a certain style and buy into it,” Considine said.

Going into the county championships, the Seahawks planned to keep their front two lines fresh by consistently rotating in players. With a roster of 20 players, Considine felt his team had the depth to keep six strong players on the ice.

“This was to make sure that when it came down to the wire, my top players weren’t exhausted like the other team was,” Considine said.

The boys were able to build up momentum at the end of the season with a six game winning streak that carried them to playoffs. Considine found his team was at their best when they decided to come together and work cohesively to win. They could wear down opposing teams with their size and strength, but closed the deal with plays.

“Our overall knowledge of the game is what helped,” Considine said. “I would get the players together at practice and break down the game, explain what we want to do in certain situations, where we want to be on faceoffs, how we want to play in the defensive zone. This is really how we made our way through playoffs.”

The Seahawks were led by captain and the team’s point leader Colin Bertsch. He earned 38 points with 20 goals and 18 assists. He was aided by assistant captains Max Van Son, Peter Leonard and Harry Carswell.

“We always push for someone to be a presence in the locker room, someone to have a voice,” Considine said. “Colin, our captain, stepped up when he was a freshman and sophomore to push the guys. I choose Harry, because he’s one of those heart and soul players, that plays hard and gives 100 percent. Max is not as vocal, but led the team with 23 goals. Peter is one of our better defensemen, I gave him this position with hopes he will rise to captain one day.”

Goalie Griffin Iglesias anchored a solid defense. Iglesias played 656 minutes this season, allowing only 48 goals and recording a goals against average of 3.29.

This united front allowed Max Van Son, Colin McHale, Owen Kaplan, Rich Straino and Riley Van Son to each score 20 or more points for the team.

“We’re a pretty smart group and we’re able to back off, take away lanes in the middle of the ice and play more of a defensive game, then counteract off the transition,” Considine said. “That’s how we got our goals.”

The Seahawks are unable to attend the State Championship this year, since last year they were invited but could not roster a full team, due to players’ other commitments.

“Unfortunately this season is our one year suspension,” Considine said. “But going into next year, I think these boys will definitely have their eyes on a State title.”

Looking forward to next season, Considine feels the Cold Spring Harbor ice hockey program will continue to thrive at all age levels. The school had one team with 14 players when he first began coaching 10 years ago. Now, the Seahawks have a modified, junior varsity and varsity team that has 60 players.

Whitman Runner Bolts To States and Nationals

Walt Whitman freshmen Gianna Paul’s 400m finish of 57.45 seconds qualified her for the national championships.

Walt Whitman freshmen Gianna Paul’s 400m finish of 57.45 seconds qualified her for the national championships.

By Sophia Ricco

sricco@longislandergroup.com

Walt Whitman’s girls indoor track team is close to wrapping up its season, but still has one extraordinary runner racing her way to the state and national championships.

This season saw the smallest team head coach Rufus Shepard has ever coached with only 22 girls, most underclassmen. Many individual athletes triumphed this season at meets, particularly Whitman freshman Gianna Paul.

Joining the spring track and field team as an eighth grader, Paul broke the school’s record in the 400-meter run. Her time – 57.45 seconds – was a personal best that qualified her for the national championship.

“It’s been great just watching her develop as she’s grown over the years,” Shepard said. “I think the sky’s the limit for her.”

In her first year competing with the winter track team, Paul set a school record for the 300m dash with a time of 40.55 seconds and 600m dash with 1:39.66. She also competes in long jump where she set a 16’10” school record.

“She has improved every race since she started winter track, she just gets faster and faster,” Shepard said. “I’ve been coaching for 20 years and she’s not only the most coachable athlete, but she also has an impeccable work ethic.”

Every day at practice, the coaches give runners a workout that conditions them for particular events.

“For our sprinters, we do sprint drills, high knees, A and B skips, a lot of short sprints to build their strength,” Shepard said. “For our distance runners, we put in at least 4-5 miles a day, so we’re talking about 25-30 miles a week to build endurance.”

Shepard finds Paul is a very “self-motivated” athlete, who wastes no time getting through the drills, even doing extra if she finishes early.

“Coach would say that I’m hard working and that I get the job done,” Paul said. “I can see my dedication to the sport growing as I run at more meets.”

Paul will compete at the Long Island Elite meet this Saturday against the best runners from Nassau and Suffolk counties, as preparation for the state championship meet on March 2. She is a prospect to place within the top six for the 300m dash and earn All-State honors.

Nationally, she has the ability to place within the top three for the freshmen 400m dash, her coach said.

“It’s great when your youngest athlete is the best on the team, but it would be great if she had a mentor, like we’ve had in the past,” Shepard said. “But this is a testament to how great she is, because she does a lot of this on her own without having someone to look up to on the team.”

With a young team, Shepard selected sophomores Grace Weigele and Priya Katwala as his captains. He considers both strong leaders and motivators.

Weigele also takes the spot as top distance runner. In the 3,000m race, she’s run a personal best 11:44.

Standing out as the top jumper, Emily Gorecki has cleared 4’8” in high jump.

Paul’s training partner, Jessica Doddo, excels in the 300m dash and the girls motivate one another, Shepard said.

Many of the girls will keep track of their progress through “Distance Time Racing” that tracks their times and ranking.

“I think this is a big motivation, because they want to self-improve, it’s all about looking at the numbers and getting better,” Shepard said.

Overall, this season has been a time for the team to rebuild, work on technique and boost their stamina and endurance.

“We use the winter season to fine tune for the spring season,” Shepard said. “The spring season tends to be more competitive. We compete against teams one-on-one in dual meets.”

Looking forward to the spring season, Shepard will be able to pick up where he left off with the team as the girls outdoor track and field coach, while gaining competitive athletes.

“We start off the season with personal goals and time trials, to see where the girls are at the moment with their events and take it from there,” Shepard said. “We’ll try to reflect back on those goals every month.”

Commack’s Slackman Brings Home The Win

Commack senior Joey Slackman, second from right, celebrates with his coaches after winning the 285-pound state championship on Feb. 23.

Commack senior Joey Slackman, second from right, celebrates with his coaches after winning the 285-pound state championship on Feb. 23.

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

 

Commack’s Joey Slackman won last Saturday the New York State wrestling title in the 285-pound weight class.

Slackman, a senior, entered the state tournament as the top ranked wrestler in his weight class having won the Suffolk County championship earlier in February. He was returning to states with something to prove. He fell just short of the state title in 2018, losing in the championship match.

Slackman pinned his first three opponents on his way to the finals where he faced off against Freeport’s Myles Norris. The match against Norris proved to be Slackman’s most difficult of the tournament, but the experienced wrestler earned a 4-2 decision victory and his first state title.

“Winning in my senior year is the best feeling in the world right now,” Slackman said after the match.

Slackman finished the 2018-2019 season with an impressive 46-0 record, and is planning to continue his wrestling career in college at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cold Spring Harbor Basketball: County Champs

Captains Aidan Adomities, Thomas Milana, Jack Vavassis and Nicholas Suter have their eyes on the Long Island championship game after leading Cold Spring Harbor basketball to a county title,

Captains Aidan Adomities, Thomas Milana, Jack Vavassis and Nicholas Suter have their eyes on the Long Island championship game after leading Cold Spring Harbor basketball to a county title,

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Cold Spring Harbor boys basketball team will have a shot at the Long Island title after beating Malverne last Saturday in the Nassau Class B championship game.

This is the Seahawks first time winning the Class B County Championship in school history. They were previously Class C county champions in 1995.

The game was a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle between the top two teams in Class B. Head coach Jason Mercurio knew Malverne had a great team, but was confident his boys could defeat them. The Seahawks handed the Mules their only loss during the regular season.

“They were playing well, but our kids showed a lot of resiliency,” Mercurio said. “Malverne tied up the game on multiple occasions, but we were able to answer every time they gained some momentum by getting baskets of our own. I’m very happy that we were able to play so well at such a big moment.”

The Seahawks started the game strong and took a 15-9 lead in the first quarter. Each team scored 12 points in the second quarter, sending Cold Spring Harbor into the locker room with a 27-21 advantage at halftime.

This season the team had a mission to play a better defense.

“Our motto this season was, ‘Keep teams to 50 points or under and we’ll never lose.’ This was something we stressed and we held them to exactly 50 points,” Mercurio said.

Cold Spring Harbor point guard and captain Thomas Milana opened the third quarter with two timely three-pointers to expand the lead for the Seahawks. Mercurio feels Milana had his best game of the season, scoring 14 points.

Captain Aidan Adomaites played an important part in the Seahawk’s win as well, leading the team with 18 points.

“It all came full circle for them because they’ve been on the team since they were underclassmen,” Mercurio said. “The experience that they gained by playing in games all those years, really showed at the county championship. They were all really focused on getting the win.”

Malverne battled back from the 11-point deficit to tie the game at 47 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. That’s when captain Jack Vavassis stepped up.

“He kept the team focused, even when things weren’t looking good and the other team was gaining momentum,” Mercurio said. “He just showed an incredible amount of leadership.”

Cold Spring Harbor would go on a 9-3 run in the last four minutes of the game to secure a 56-50 victory. Kip Dallaris hit a three-pointer for the Seahawks and scored nine points in the game, while Vavassis, Nick Suter, Luca Sanna and Steven Samuels rounded out scoring with six, four, three and two points, respectively.

The Seahawks ace off against the Red Devils of Center Moriches at Farmingdale State College on March 6, 7 p.m. for the Long Island Class B Championship.

“We’re gonna have to do some things differently and make things difficult for them,” Mercurio said. “We’re gonna do everything we can to give them the best game we can.”

Huntington Fighter To Headline Paramount Bout

Johnny “Hitman” Hernandez, of Huntington, is scheduled to fight in the co-main event of “Rockin’ Fights 34” at The Paramount in Huntington on Feb. 22.   Photo/Star Boxing

Johnny “Hitman” Hernandez, of Huntington, is scheduled to fight in the co-main event of “Rockin’ Fights 34” at The Paramount in Huntington on Feb. 22. Photo/Star Boxing

By Connor Beach

cbeach@longislandergroup.com

A Huntington-based boxer is once again set to headline a fight at The Paramount when Star Boxing hosts the 34th edition of its “Rockin’ Fights” series.

Johnny “Hitman” Hernandez, 27, of Huntington, is scheduled to make his 12th appearance in the ring at The Paramount next Friday in the co-main event for Star Boxing.

Hernandez, 9-4, is set to take on Texan Marquis Hawthorne, 6-9, in front of the hometown Huntington crowd in the 140-pound division.

“Both Johnny and Marquis have earned the right to be in this fight,” Star Boxing CEO Joe DeGuardia said. “Johnny and Marquis always show up in phenomenal shape with great energy on fight night, and I expect a thrilling fight.”

Hernandez is the second boxer from Huntington to feature in the main event at The Paramount recently. Chris Algieri made his comeback to the ring during a Star Boxing fight at The Paramount in November.

Joining Hernandez and Hawthorne at the top of the card will be junior heavyweight fighters Joel Djeko, of Belgium, and Italian Simone Federici. Djeko and Federici will rely on brute strength for victory, while Hernandez will rely on footwork and conditioning to defeat Hawthorne in the pair’s lightweight bout.

“There are no secrets to success,” Hernandez said. “It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failures.”

The fight will be Hernandez’s second main event at The Paramount, and DeGuardia said he hopes the fighter can impress in front of the friendly crowd. Although Hernandez lost his last fight to Danny Gonzalez, he has a reputation for getting stronger as fights stretch into the later rounds.

“In his last fight Johnny showed grit and we will always support our fighters, win or lose, when they perform like he did,” DeGuardia said.

Hawthorne will not be easy to beat. He is coming off a recent upset over previously unbeaten boxer Ronnie Austion at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

The undercard fights are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 22, and tickets for the event range from $50-$200. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.

Seahawks Vie for County Championship

ColdSpringBoysBasketball_2.jpeg

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Cold Spring Harbor boys varsity basketball team has dominated so far this season, holding a strong defense and picking up points through a united front.

The Seahawks have a record of 17-2 this season and will face off against Oyster Bay in the Nassau Class B semi-finals this Sunday night at Farmingdale State College.

Head coach Jason Mercurio feels his team is “battle-tested” after coming out victorious against challenging teams.

“We just have to prepare now,” Mercurio said. “We know each other really well, so we’re just getting our kids ready to put their best foot forward for that game.”

The team started off the season playing against tough non-league teams to prepare for a fiercely competitive league. Although there is no league championship game, Cold Spring ranked second in their league after Malverne. The Seahawks finished their season strong with a big win against Malverne in their last game, handing the Mustangs their only loss of the season.

“It was a really great win that gives us momentum going into the playoffs,” Mercurio said. “Our kids are really excited about this Sunday.”

Mercurio attributes his team’s prosperity to the positive attitude his captains and players have during practice. In previous years, the team’s “Achilles’ heel” was stopping the opposing team’s offense from scoring. Many of the team’s seniors witnessed the issue first hand, and they made it a priority to improve.

“Our team has made a commitment to playing better defense, which has been a goal since the first day of practice,” Mercurio said.

This year, the Seahawks were ranked one of the strongest defensive teams in the county. Mercurio credits captain Jack Vavassis for leading the improvement and considers him to be the “anchor” of the team. As a guard, he demonstrates his “incredible” skill by defending opposing team’s best players and securing many rebounds.

“He’s been the catalyst to get everyone on the team to buy into playing better defense,” Mercurio said. “Without him, we would’ve never been able to do the things we’ve done this year.”

ColdSpringBoysBasketball_3.jpg

Fellow captains Nicholas Suter, a three year veteran of the squad, Aidan Adomities, a three year starter, and Thomas Milana a two year veteran, use their experince to lead the team. They’ve each seen many playoff battles, and know what it takes to keep the team calm during stressful situations.

“We’ve proven ourselves over the past four months, that we could play with anyone and beat them,” Mercurio said. “I’m happy we finished 17-2, but I feel there’s more we can still do and I’m happy our team keeps improving and getting better.”

Sophomores Kip Dallaris and Luca Sanna have stood out as strong players at a young age and earned themselves solid gametime. Although ten of the team’s players are seniors, Mercurio feels his team will remain powerful in coming years with young talent.

In his six years coaching at Cold Spring Harbor, Mercurio has an overall record of 82-37. He’s built the team from the ground up , and since then has made vast improvements. He said he feels proud of this accomplishment, especially since his record in his first two seasons was 18-18.

In preparation for the big game on Sunday, the team has been watching and critiquing film from their games against Oyster Bay. During the regular season, each team won one game and Mercurio feels Sunday’s game will be a “good battle”. The players’ biggest focus will be handling and moving the ball to one another, to set up the best shots possible.

“For the first time in playoffs, we’re gonna play an opponent we’ve played before, so that’s something different for us,” Mercurio said. “Typically, we’re facing teams we don’t know much about. Now we’re in a different ball game, we’re playing a team we know a lot about and they know a lot about us.”

If the team wins on Sunday they will move on to the Nassau Class B Championship, but Mercurio said the Seahawks aren’t looking too far ahead.

“All season we have been preparing for these next two weeks,” He said. “Everything that we’ve done up until this point has put us in this position, I know the boys have what it takes.”

 

Area Wrestlers Show Well At County Tournament

Posing with the brackets showing their path to the title, Elwood-John Glenn wrestler, from left, Patrick Ancewicz, Justin Vega and Thomas Giaramita are Suffolk Division 2 champions.

Posing with the brackets showing their path to the title, Elwood-John Glenn wrestler, from left, Patrick Ancewicz, Justin Vega and Thomas Giaramita are Suffolk Division 2 champions.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Wrestlers from high schools around the Town of Huntington found success on the mat last weekend during the Suffolk County Section XI Championship.

The smaller schools in the county competed in the Division 2 tournament last Friday night. Elwood-John Glenn was the only school from the Huntington area to qualify for this division.

The Knights had an impressive showing as a team; they racked up a total of 227.5 points. The total was good enough for second place out of ten.

Four individual wrestlers made it into the final match in their respective weight classes, and three Knights earned gold medals.

In the 99-pound weight class, Glenn’s Anthony Mirando fell just short. He lost in the championship match to Blue Point’s Max Gallagher after an impressive run of victories to reach the finals.

At 145-pounds, Thomas Giaramita was the first Knight to secure a Suffolk County title. He pinned Ryan Shanian from Mt. Sini high school after five minutes and 29 seconds.

Justin Vega also managed to pin his opponent in the championship match. Vega ended Port Jefferson’s Harry Cona’s run at the title after just 1:14 in the 182-pound division.

For Glenn’s Patrick Ancewicz the championship match proved more difficult. He was locked in a close battle with Aldar Molina of Center Moriches for the entire contest. The two heavyweights fought hard for the 285-pound title. Ancewicz prevailed by a score of 3-2.

Commack senior Joey Slackman celebrates after winning the Suffolk County championship in the 285-pound division.

Commack senior Joey Slackman celebrates after winning the Suffolk County championship in the 285-pound division.

There were eight schools from the Town of Huntington competing in Suffolk’s Division 1 tournament on Feb. 9-10. Commack finished top of the pack, and in fourth place overall, with a score of 104. They were followed by Huntington, 45.5, Northport, 45, Half Hollow Hills East, 37. 5, Half Hollow Hills West, 21, Harborfields, 20, and Walt Whitman, 12.

The Cougars had several stand out individual wrestlers who helped the team reach a top five finish.

Junior Jack Echerle finished in second place for the Cougars in the 113-pound division. He suffered an 8-2 defeat in the championship match to Hauppauge’s Luke Smith.

At 126-pounds, another Cougar fell just short of the county title. Junior Gavin Damasco lost to Zach Redding of Eastport-South Manor by a score of 11-1 in the final match.

Commack’s top wrester, and one of the best performers of the tournament, was heavyweight Joey Slackman. The senior showed his experience, dominating the 285-pound division. He capped of his championship run with an impressive pin against London Castillo of Brentwood in just 36 seconds.

In addition to his Suffolk title, Slackman earned the honor of most pins in the least amount of time. He managed to pin four opponents in just 3:22.

The Thunderbirds of Half Hollow Hills High School East also can claim a county champion among their ranks. Senior Jonathan Spadafora won the 145-pound weight class in style with a 10-1 major decision over Newfield’s Hunter Hughes.

Northport’s Peter Magliocco has plenty to be proud of after a good run in the 195-pound division. Magliocco, a junior, lost in the finals by a score of 6-3 to Liam McIntyre from Westhampton Beach.

Rounding out the medal winners from the Town of Huntington was Blue Devils junior Tazadon Smith. He pinned Centereach’s Christopher Powell in 1:20 to claim third place in the 220-pound weight class.

The county champions will wrestle for the state title in Albany beginning on Feb. 22.

Blue Devils Light A Fire On The Track

Sophomore Isaiah James runs the second leg of a relay. He won the 1000m at the Suffolk County Sophomore Championship and was the runner up at the League III Championship.

Sophomore Isaiah James runs the second leg of a relay. He won the 1000m at the Suffolk County Sophomore Championship and was the runner up at the League III Championship.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington indoor track team have found victory this season and aren’t looking back as they race to the County and State Championships.

The Blue Devils will advance to the County Championship after winning the League III Championship on Jan. 19 with 97 points. Huntington’s athletes have had remarkable races and events at weekly tournaments.

Coach Ron Wilson has led his Blue Devils against schools from across Long Island, New York and the North East to prepare them for future meets within their area.

“You have to get them out there to get exposure and experience...  The experience they get at meets is to push themselves, you push them hard at practice, but it’s nothing like the experience at a meet,” Wilson said.

The team’s 4x400m and 4x200m relays rank first on Long Island and second in New York State. At the recently Ocean Breeze Invitational on Staten Island, the 4x400 team placed first at 3:20.89 and the 4x200 was edged out by about one second for the championship with a time of 1:31.41.

Wilson also brought the team to the Dartmouth Relays in New Hampshire, the “height of competition” with over a hundred other schools vying to win.

“It’s a rugged meet and it’s tough to do well there because of the conditions and the competition is great up there… Placing in the top 10 means you’re gonna do well when you go back to your own section. We placed third,” Wilson said.

Senior captain Eric Sands dominates shot put and weight throw for the Blue Devils. Sands set a personal best at the Ocean Breeze Invitational with a shot put throw of 49-06.00 and placed ninth throwing weight a distance of 45-02.50 feet.

Senior Jaden Bholan is a top high jumper, reaching 6 feet 3 inches.

Sophomore Trevan Meagher clears 5'10" at the Ocean Breeze Invitational.

Sophomore Trevan Meagher clears 5'10" at the Ocean Breeze Invitational.

Senior captain Jonathan Smith is one of the best runners in the nation for the 300m, 500m and 600m races, and his efforts have shown on the 4x200m and 4x400m relay teams. Smith has been on the team since eighth grade and witnessed them win the National Championship in 2016.

“That’s why we have him in that leadership position, he’s seen that type of success,” Wilson said. “He knows the route that the team needs to take in order to receive those same accolades.”

This season the team has a majority of underclassmen who Wilson feels are “full of talent.” His relay teams are a rotation of runners, many of whom are underclassman, including captains Nasir Youngblood, Smith, Isaiah James and Justin Stevens.

CJ Kiviat, Anthony Joseph, Josiah Melendez, Jason Turner and Jahmar Francis also feature heavily in the Blue Devils relay teams.

James, a sophmore, has stood out in the 1000m run, winning first at the Suffolk Frosh/Soph championship and becoming runner-up in the league with a personal best of 2:40.

Kiviat, a sophmore, has proven to be one of the best middle distance runners in Suffolk County, capturing the League III 600m title with a time of 1:24.

At Suffolk’s Frosh/Soph Championship this year at Brentwood, Huntington’s freshmen and sophomore boys excelled, accumulating the most combined points of any team.

“If you do well at that meet, normally that brings good fortune, that you’ll have a shot at winning the County Championships in the future,” Wilson said. “Those kids are going to get older and you hope they will continue to improve at what they’re doing.”

In preparation for County Championships, the team will continue to compete in tournaments to stay sharp physically and mentally. In his years as a track and football coach, Wilson has found athletics are really “20 percent physical and 80 percent mental.”

“We will continue to train, run, do formal weight lifting and get our minds right, that’s the most important is getting your mind ready for this level of competition,” Wilson said. “That’s why we go those high level meets to work on the mental piece.”

The next challenge in the Blue Devils’ journey is to triumph at the Large School County Championship in February. From there, athletes will have the opportunity to qualify for the State Championship at a state qualifier meet.

“I have strong hopes for us,” Wilson said. “We can definitely qualify with our 4x400 relay, we’re one of the top relay teams in the state, now we just have to come in first or second.”

Split Results For Blue Devil Girls

Junior Abby Maichin moves the ball down the court for the Blue Devils.

Junior Abby Maichin moves the ball down the court for the Blue Devils.

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

The Huntington girls basketball team currently sits in fourth place in Suffolk League III with a league record of 8-6 after a win against Smithtown East on Saturday and a loss at Deer Park on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils took down visiting Smithtown East on Jan. 26 by a score of 40-27.

Huntington trailed the Bulls 11-9 after eight minutes, but went on a 12-0 second quarter run to seize a 21-11 halftime advantage. Smithtown East was never able to recover from the deficit.

The Blue Devils improved to 7-5 in league play after Saturday’s victory.

Huntington junior Abby Maichin turned in another team leading scoring effort with 17 points, seven rebounds and six steals. The junior has been one of Huntington’s top players this season.

Christie Baade had four points and made her presence felt under the boards on both ends of the court.

Emily Plachta contributed nine points and eight rebounds, and Paige Lennon dropped a three pointer. Laurel Bonn, Charlotte Maggio and Holly Wright all had two points, while Jordan Forte scored a point from the free throw line.

“We are definitely on a hot streak as a team right now,” Maichin said. “Everyone is feeling really good about how we are playing and we need to keep this up to take us through the rest of our season. Everyone has been playing to their potential and contributing to all aspects of what we need to do to win. If we continue this, we will be set for a successful run in the playoffs.”

The Blue Devils traveled to Deer Park on Tuesday night looking to continue their winning ways, but got off to a slow start on offense.

Huntington scored just six points in the first half, and they went into the locker room at halftime trailing the Falcons 26-6.

The Blue Devils took the court in the third quarter determined to show their fighting spirit. They outscored Deer Park 16-4 in the third quarter cutting the deficit to eight.

The third quarter comeback proved too little too late, and the Blue Devils lost 34-24.

Maichin again led the scoring for Huntington with nine points. Plachta finished with eight points, Lennon contributed four points and Wright knocked down the only three pointer of the game for the Blue Devils.

Chaminade Seniors Lock Down College Choices

Students in the Chaminade High School Class of 2019 made commitments to play sports at colleges across the U.S. Notably from Huntington, second row third in, Aidan Larkin of Huntington and fourth row third in, Luke Roberts of Greenlawn.

Students in the Chaminade High School Class of 2019 made commitments to play sports at colleges across the U.S. Notably from Huntington, second row third in, Aidan Larkin of Huntington and fourth row third in, Luke Roberts of Greenlawn.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

Chaminade High School will be sending off more than twenty of their students to play college-level sports upon graduation.

Athletes from the Class of 2019 will join baseball, crew, lacrosse, track and field, and soccer teams at universities across the country next fall. Notably, two of the young men that attend Chaminade High School and have made a commitment to a college, hail from Huntington. Aidan Larkin of Huntington will be rounding the bases of Hofstra University, playing on the baseball team. While Luke Roberts of Greenlawn will be traveling up north to play lacrosse at Hamilton College.

“These young men have demonstrated exemplary skill and sportsmanship on the field and in the classroom,” assistant principal of athletics and campus activities, John Callinan said. “Teamwork, however, is paramount to everything our Flyers learn in athletics. Our Chaminade family is particularly proud of their accomplishments.”

Student athletes and their college choices pictured above, from left, are:
First row: Dylan Ameres, of Quogue, track and field, Davidson College; John Darcy, of Rockville Centre, lacrosse, The Catholic University of America; Liam Entenmann, of Point Lookout, lacrosse, University of Notre Dame; Reilly Gray, of Point Lookout, lacrosse, University of Notre Dame; Andrew Hammersley, of Garden City, soccer, Stonehill College.
Second row: Andrew Jenet, of Malverne, lacrosse, Furman University; Logan Koester, of Merrick, baseball, The George Washington University; Aidan Larkin, of Huntington, baseball, Hofstra University; Colin Lawless, of Rockville Centre, soccer, Gettysburg College.
Third row: Brendan Lough, of Oyster Bay, lacrosse, Bates College; Alexander Manolarakis, of Fort Salonga, crew, Drexel University; William McCumiskey, of of Oyster Bay, lacrosse, SUNY Geneseo; Roy Meyer, of Long Beach, lacrosse, Boston University; Patrick Mooney, of Rockville Centre, lacrosse, The University of Scranton.
Fourth row: Kevin Pimental, of Massapequa, lacrosse, University of Michigan; John Plumeri, of Massapequa, crew, Yale University; Luke Roberts, of Greenlawn, lacrosse, Hamilton College; Peter Rocco, of Malverne, lacrosse, The University of Scranton.
Fifth row: Thomas Rogan, of Merrick, lacrosse, Dartmouth University; Tyler Sandoval, of Garden City, lacrosse, Princeton University; Nicholas Whiteman, of Merrick, lacrosse, Union College; Aidan Wrynn, of Port Washington, lacrosse, SUNY Maritime College; Matthew Zito, of Wantagh, lacrosse, The University of Scranton.

Algieri Reclaims Title At MSG Fight

Chris Algieri, left, throws a body punch during his victory over Danny Gonzalez at MSG.  Photos/Star Boxing

Chris Algieri, left, throws a body punch during his victory over Danny Gonzalez at MSG. Photos/Star Boxing

By Connor Beach
cbeach@longislandergroup.com

Huntington’s Chris Algieri continued his successful return to the ring Saturday night when he defeated Danny Gonzalez under the lights at Madison Square Garden for the WBO International Super Lightweight title.

Algieri won the 10-round bout in a unanimous decision by scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.

Algieri controlled the opening rounds using his agility and footwork to attack the body of Gonzalez from the outside. His high punch rate caused problems for Gonzalez early in the fight.

Gonzalez settled in and dominated the action in the second half of the fight, especially after an accidental head butt late in the seventh round opened a cut under Algieri’s left eye.

Chris Algieri celebrates his victory by unanimous decision against Danny Gonzalez under the lights at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19.

Chris Algieri celebrates his victory by unanimous decision against Danny Gonzalez under the lights at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19.

Gonzalez's late offensive effort left Algieri disappointed, despite the victory.

"I am my biggest critic, my performance wasn't my best,” Algieri said after the fight. “But we got the win, we got the belt and I'm moving on."

The win puts Algieri on the short list for a fight against current WBO light welterweight title-holder Maurice Hooker.

Algieri said he could “turn it up when I need it” if given the chance to fight Hooker for the belt.

He said, “I have always been the guy that can pull off the unexpected."

Whitman Girls Take Aim At Post-Season

Sophomore forward Jenna Stockfeder (15) goes for a shot on the Lady Wildcats’ home court.

Sophomore forward Jenna Stockfeder (15) goes for a shot on the Lady Wildcats’ home court.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Walt Whitman girls varsity basketball team is setting its sights on playoffs and as long as players stay consistent, the team could have a chance at the championship.

So far the Wildcats are 8-6 overall and 5-5 in league play this season. Head coach Dan Trebour feels the team is competitive enough to make the playoffs. If the team wins the next three of their six games, they will be on their way.
“We have six league games left and we were 5-1 against these six teams the first time through. I’d like to think we could do the same or better,” Trebour said.
The Wildcats played against Lindenhurst Wednesday, and will face off against Connetquot on Jan. 25 and Smithtown West at home on Jan. 29. The team is looking forward to the Lindenhurst game. They beat the Bulldogs the first time around, and a will take them one step closer to playoffs.
Trebour admits he has a small roster, but utilizes his players’ abilities wisely.

“We have a balanced team as far as scoring with our guards and forwards,” Trebour said. “We just want to keep that balance heading into the rest of the season.”

Of the ten players on the team, five are returning seniors and three are returning starters, the team’s captains.

Walt Whitman senior guard Desiree Kleberg (13) dribbles past opponents.

Walt Whitman senior guard Desiree Kleberg (13) dribbles past opponents.

Danielle Kleet has started as point guard for four years and is a strong three-point shooter. Desiree Kleberg demonstrates her athleticism as a starting forward, doing a great job getting to the basket. Coming off knee surgery, Meghan Soulias, a versatile and smart player, was eager to get back on the court.

“I feel we have some experience that returned from last year, so that consistency from last season certainly is a strength… With those three, it’s a nice trio to work around,” Trebour said. “They’re as good as any team’s top players.”

Unfortunately, this season Trebour feels the team has been hit with an “injury bug”. As Soulias returned to the court from surgery, he lost two more players to injured.

“As much consistency that we have with returners, it’s been tough to deal with shuffling of players and lineups,” Trebour said.

Preparing for their upcoming games, the Wildcats will evaluate previous games against the teams they will battle once more, looking to make improvements and see what succeeded. To break out of the monotony of practice, Trebour likes to introduce new drills.

“Some of the things that we’re trying to improve on is just taking care of the ball and rebounding, keeping the teams off the offensive board,” Trebour said.

The girls have put in hard work all year as preparation, attending training camps during the summer and playing together in the offseason.

“It’s a great group of kids,” Trebour said. “I think with all their hard work, we will reap the benefits come playoff time.”

In Trebour’s 20 years of coaching at Walt Whitman, the Wildcats have made it to playoffs 18 of the 19 seasons. This season he hopes to see his team advance through playoffs once again.

“We are consistently a competitive team that finds themselves in the playoffs,” Trebour said.

He is aided by assistant coach, Ed Garrone, a long-time coach within the district who Trebour finds to be a “total asset” to the program. With the experience they share combined, the team is in good hands.

“We are products of our own experiences, mine has been a number of years coaching,” Trebour said. “I think you take what you’ve done in the past and try to learn from it… You hope that when you look at your team, you can understand the strengths and weaknesses. You’re just trying to do what’s best for the team.”

Swimmers Look To Finish Strong… Again

Seven of the team’s eight seniors, many of whom have grown up swimming together.

Seven of the team’s eight seniors, many of whom have grown up swimming together.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

The Half Hollow Hills boys varsity swim team has a winning record that spans years. The team is hoping to continue the streak.

Hills swimmers are undefeated for the past 11 years and are currently at 7-0. The boys won their most recent meet over Connetquot, 101-80.

Head coach, Nina Cunningham hopes to continue the team’s streak as County Champions since 2007.

“We have two more meets left this season and my anticipation is we will continue our undefeated streak,” Cunningham said.

She credits her team’s success to the camaraderie among the swimmers and the fact that many make a year-long commitment to practicing. Although the team lost some top athletes to graduation from last year’s squad, Cunningham feels they picked up plenty of young talent.

“We have a lot of depth within our program,” Cunningham said. “This is our smallest team in a long time. We have 29 athletes; I would say 16 of them swim all year round, so that gives us a big advantage.”

Swimmer Kabir Randhawa puts power into his butterfly stroke.

Swimmer Kabir Randhawa puts power into his butterfly stroke.

One of the reasons Hills swimmers are dominate is that many of its members practicing with club teams. Offseason work is crucial for swimmers to maintain and improve their race pace, she said.

“Everyone can walk or run, but not everyone can swim or float,” Cunningham said. “It’s a different skill set that lends a better advantage when you swim year round.”

Four of her swimmers have qualified for the state championship meet, including the team’s three captains: Senior captain Kabir Randhawa has been a state finalist for the past three years and is favored to win the 500-yards freestyle; Corey Sherman, a senior captain, qualified for the states in the medley relay; and senior captain Matt Park, a News 12 Scholar Athlete scholarship winner, will also go to States for the 500 freestyle.

Sophomore Ben Glazebnik will join them at the state meet in the 50 freestyle race.

In preparation for the meet, each swimmer will have individualized and specialized practices.

“I’m going to up the distance work, work my walls a lot more, and do more double practices,” Randhawa said. “I’m setting my mind on that first place finish, but in the end all I care about is helping the team. It’s the team that sets us apart.”

For the captains, it’s important to set a good example, while staying engaged with their fellow teammates.

Practice, practice, practice – all year ’round–keeps Half Hollow Hills swim team heading to the state championships, says coach Nina Cunningham.

Practice, practice, practice – all year ’round–keeps Half Hollow Hills swim team heading to the state championships, says coach Nina Cunningham.

“As captains, we do our best to motivate them and build team bonds,” Randhawa said.

All of the captains have been on the team since 8th or 9th grade, growing up and learning the team’s values.

“Something my captains always told me is to just work hard, stay quiet behind the block and afterwards show some great sportsmanship,” Randhawa said. “I think that’s what I try to show these kids today.”

The team is composed of swimmers of all skill levels, from swimmers working to perfect their flip turn to state finalists. Cunningham finds unity amongst her team when they collaborate to help one another out.

“We tend to do stations, group work and technique work,” Cunningham said. “I have my more experienced swimmers working with my new swimmers, which fosters a lot of camaraderie.”

These methods focus the athletes because they are either responsible in aiding their fellow teammate or are learning and working on their skills.

“Swimming is what it is,” Cunningham said. “There’s breathing tricks, paddles and pool activities that you can do to break up the monotony. But it’s still two walls, a starting block and you have to go back and forth faster than the person next to you.”

As the head coach for the boys and girls varsity team for three years, Cunningham has clearly set out her expectations, “to come, be present, listen, try your hardest and do your best.”

Although, the State Championship does not give out a title, Half Hollow Hills scored the highest amount of points twice in the last three years and hope to do so once again. Their end goal remains the same to win County Championships another year.

“We’ve been CountyChamps for the past 12 years and we want to keep that legacy going,” Randhawa said. “We tell our swimmers and teammates, that it’s not about being cocky. Be confident, but stay humble.”

Back-To-Back Tourneys Test Blue Devils

Huntington junior Aedan McDonald won the 132 lbs. tournament championship at the Kohl Invitational.

Huntington junior Aedan McDonald won the 132 lbs. tournament championship at the Kohl Invitational.

Huntington wrestlers captured weight class titles in both wrestling tournaments the Blue Devils have competed in so far this month.

On Jan. 5, the Huntington High School wrestling team cast aside its struggles in dual meets this winter and turned in an impressive display at the 26th annual Herricks New Year’s Invitational tournament.

The Blue Devils faced off against teams from Herricks, East Meadow, Great Neck North, Hempstead, Massapequa, St. John the Baptist, Southampton and Ward Melville.

The Blue Devils were led by freshman Lucas Cirlincione in the 99-pound weight class and Tazadon Smith at 220 pounds. Both wrestlers captured their weight class championships.

Joe Petrone at 99 pounds, Aedan McDonald and Zach Zboray at 132 pounds, Ryan Baker at 138 pounds and Jon Koumas at 182 pounds all garnered second place honors.

Cirlincione won five matches, including an 8-7 decision, 18-1 technical fall and pins in times of 0:58, 1:43 and 2:30, and Smith pinned all five of his opponents in times of 1:24, 3:20, 0:57, 1:49 and 1:03.

Petrone went 4-1 on the day, including pins in times of 5:50, 3:30, 1:16 and 1:02, while Baker also went 4-1 with four pins coming in times of 1:59, 3:45, 1:23 and 0:38.

McDonald, Zboray and Koumas all went 3-1 in the Herricks tournament. McDonald and Zboray each recorded two pins and Koumas notched one pin.

The Blue Devils traveled to Suffern High School in upstate Rockland County on Jan. 12 for the Kohl Invitational. The Blue Devils finished fourth in the team standings in a field of eight squads.

Monroe-Woodbury finished first with 249.5 points, Sayville placed second with 191.5 points, third place Suffern managed a score of 175, Huntington captured fourth with 134 points, Mineola scored 101.5 points for fifth place; Pearl River came in sixth with 57, East Ramapo finished seventh with 54 points and Burke Catholic was last with 33 points.

Huntington wrestlers McDonald and Smith led the Blue Devils squad, capturing their weight class championships.

McDonald pinned Mineola’s Ezequiel Claros in 3:35 in the 132-pound finals. Smith defeated Sayville’s Nick DeStefano in the 220-pound finals in a 9-7 decision.

Petrone placed second at 99 pounds, falling in the finals to Sayville’s Mack Murtha, 10-3.

Huntington’s Robbie Smith lost a tight match in the finals of the 170-pound weight class to East Ramapo’s Jonathan Lafortune by a score of 7-6.

The Blue Devils will look to turn tournament success into dual meet victory when they host Cold Spring Harbor in a non-league match on Friday night.

Huntington Track Stars Are Among LI’s Best

Huntington’s Johnathan Smith, left, is the fastest 300m sprinter on Long Island this winter with a time of 34.98 seconds. Senior Jaden Bholan, right, is third in high jump in Suffolk with a jump of 6-03 feet.  Photos/Huntington Schools

Huntington’s Johnathan Smith, left, is the fastest 300m sprinter on Long Island this winter with a time of 34.98 seconds. Senior Jaden Bholan, right, is third in high jump in Suffolk with a jump of 6-03 feet. Photos/Huntington Schools

Huntington High School has some of Long Island’s brightest track and field stars, including senior Johnathan Smith, one of the top high school runners in the country.

Smith capped off another incredible day of performances by winning the gold medal in the 600m run last weekend at the 2019 Freedom Games at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex at Staten Island.

Smith’s first place time of 1:21.61 set a new Freedom Games meet record and ranks him first over all in New York State and second in the United States this winter in the 600m run.

Over the weekend Smith also improved his rankings in the 300m dash to Long Island number one, New York number three and 11th in the country with a third place finish in 34.98 seconds at the Freedom Games.

Only three other Blue Devils have ever dipped below 35 seconds in the 300m dash. Smith’s time is the fourth fastest ever by a Huntington athlete. Kyree Johnson (33.85 seconds), Lawrence Leake (34.65 seconds) and Y’Majesty Allen (34.80 seconds) hold the top three spots in Blue Devil history.

In the field events, Huntington senior Jaden Bholan is among the best high jumpers in the state.

Bholan is ranked number three in Suffolk, fourth on Long Island and number 10 in New York State in the high jump this winter. The Blue Devils star cleared a height of 6-03 feet earlier this season to put him among the top athletes in the event.

The Blue Devils will look to continue their dominance on the track ahead of the state qualifying meet at St. Anthony’s High School on Feb. 11.