It was a banner season for many high school athletic programs in the Herald’s coverage area. Listed are the top team and individual accomplishments, in chronological order.
South Side girls cross-country The South Side girls repeated as Nassau Class II cross-country champs. In muddy and slippery conditions at Bethpage State Park Oct. 30, South Side had three of the top five finishers and out-legged Calhoun and Manhasset by a considerable margin. Junior Cameron Coletti finished one second under 20 minutes to pace the Cyclones. She was second overall. Freshman Lara Jewett was fourth, and sophomore Claire Bohan finished fifth. Sophomores Kelsie Reinholdt and Morgan McKenna completed its top five.
Calhoun boys cross-country Before the season, Calhoun coach David Hendler and the boys’ cross-country team set their goals for the fall as winning the division, the conference, the county championship and the state qualifier. They put boxes next to each one and would draw a check mark when it was accomplished. After Nov. 6, there were four check marks. Sophomore Logan Schaeffler, senior John Schwab, juniors William Hughes and Gavin Giordano, senior Alexander Rosario and junior Matthew Belmonte helped the Colts capture the Nassau Class A title Oct. 30 at Bethpage State Park.
South Side girls soccer Two dramatic goals in the final 15 minutes Nov. 6 gave South Side a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind victory over East Islip and its first Long Island girls’ soccer championship since 2014. Senior Anna Pennecke provided the difference by converting her own rebound from close range with 3:58 remaining in the L.I. Class A title game. Junior Maggie Colvin orchestrated the crossing pass that led to the winning goal. The tying goal came from sophomore defender Charley Doreste. The Cyclones were four days removed from capturing their second straight county title and the 28th in program history, beating Manhasset 2-0.
Wantagh girls volleyball Wantagh girls’ volleyball has created a new dynasty. The Warriors captured their third Nassau Class A title in four years with a four-set triumph over Calhoun Nov. 10, 25-29, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18. Three days later, Wantagh captured the program’s second Long Island title in four years with a 3-1 win over Kings Park to reach the state tournament. Freshman Sadie Reich propelled Wantagh to a repeat county title with 19 kills and 10 digs. Senior Olivia Pugliese registered 18 digs, 12 kills and four blocks. Junior Angelina Bendetti also played a key role.
Seaford girls volleyball After dropping the first two sets of the Nassau Class B finals and nearing the wrong end of a sweep, Seaford won the remaining four points of the third set to seize control of the match against West Hempstead. The Vikings dominated the rest of the way en route to a 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-7 victory Nov. 10 to bring home the county title. The comeback was made possible by a team effort led by young hitters Sarah Lochner (sophomore) and Carey-Jean Federico (freshman.) The defense also stepped up big, with junior setter Kailly Nocera registering 21 digs, along with 12 from senior libero Brooke Surace and nine by Nicole Karaman. Senior Alyssa Luisi and freshman Carey-Jean Block chipped in with eight digs apiece.
Long Beach wrestling (Dunia Sibomana) Only 14 years old, Dunia Sibomana has already experienced a life’s worth of tragedy and triumph. On Feb. 26 at Albany’s MVP Arena, the eighth-grader from Long Beach who in 2014 was clinging to life in his homeland of the Congo, in Central Africa, after a group of wild chimpanzees attacked him and two family members, added his name to the New York state wrestling history book when he capped a dominant weekend with a pin of No. 1-seed Ryan Ferrara, of Chenango Forks, in 1 minute, 32 seconds to capture the 102-pound Division I state championship. Sibomana, who was seeded third, won his first three matches in the tournament by a combined score of 35-7. He became the 17th state champ in Long Beach program history. “I really can’t believe it,” said Sibomana, who finished the season with 35 wins in 37 matches. “There was definitely so much competition, and I’m so excited to win.”
Clarke wrestling (Jordan Soriano) Clarke’s Jordan Soriano culminated his high school wrestling career as a champion and made history in the process. Sorinao delivered Clarke its first state wrestling title in program history with a dominating 10-1 win in the 138-pound finals in the New York state championships against Caleb Sweet of South Seneca on Feb 26. The triumph on the mats at the MVP Arena in Albany capped an emotional five-year career filled where he battled through injuries and a pandemic. “I feel like this has been a long time coming,” Soriano said. “I have been waiting for this moment for a long time and it was finally my time to shine.” Reaching the top of the podium as a senior was achieved in Soriano’s third appearance at the state championships.
Baldwin girls basketball A week after Baldwin squeezed past Syosset for its eighth consecutive county title despite being held to a season-low 31 points, the Lady Bruins didn’t take long to make an offensive statement March 5 as their signature defense gave Longwood fits throughout the Long Island Class AA girls’ basketball championship game. All five Baldwin starters scored in the opening quarter as it exploded for 21 points and led all the way in a convincing 53-32 victory. Sophomore Renelle Grannum scored a game-high 16 points, freshman Payton Dulin added 15, and junior Dallysshya Moreno had 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Lady Bruins captured their fifth L.I. crown in 13th-year head coach Tom Catapano’s tenure.
Baldwin boys basketball The March 5 Long Island Class AA boys’ basketball championship against Half Hollow Hills East was extra special for Baldwin senior Jamir Stewart. The third-year varsity player was a sophomore in 2020 when the onset of Covid-19 suddenly canceled the Bruins’ season just days after they captured a county title. Stewart took full advantage of his long-awaited opportunity with 22 points to propel Baldwin to a 79-68 win. Cadeem Ramsay and Joshua Petion both registered 13 points for Baldwin, which trailed 34-33 at halftime. Gerrad Beaubrun added 10 and Jacob Oka had eight as part of its balanced scoring effort.
Clarke boys track In edging North Shore by the miniscule margin to finish second in the four-by-100-meter relay at the Nassau County track and field championships May 23, Clarke’s boys’ had pulled within striking distance of the meet's leader West Hempstead heading into the day's last event. Eight points off the lead in team scoring at the sound of the final starter's gun, Clarke would set a season-best time winning the 4x800 relay in 8:44.72 to move into a tie atop the leader board at 84-all and sidle up to West Hempstead - which finished fifth in the race - as county Class A co-champion, bringing Clarke its first county outdoor title since 1987.
West Hempstead boys track In a season of notable firsts, the West Hempstead boys’ track and field team used season-best performances and a staggering win rate to surmount the odds – and then the winners’ podium – at the Nassau Class A Championships May 23, becoming county co-champion alongside Clarke as West Hempstead won its first-ever outdoor boys’ title. Competing in only 11 of the day’s 18 events, West Hempstead got three first-place finishes from junior newcomer Jurrel Hall, a pair of wins apiece from seniors Jordan DeJesus and Damilola Babalola, and a title-saving fifth-place finish by its 4x800 relay.
V.S. North boys/girls track The Valley Stream North track and field team proved the regular season was no fluke. After a 13-0 spring, the boys' and girls' teams went on to win the Nassau Class AA titles May 25. Senior Ryan John won the long and triple jumps while placing second in the high jump. Senior Ariana Paul won the 100-meter final and the long jump. The other boy county champ was sophomore Sedgeley Duperval, who won the 200 in 22.65 seconds.
Bellmore-Merrick flag football Flushed from the pocket with her intended target tightly covered by Lynbrook’s defense in the end zone on fourth down, Bellmore-Merrick quarterback Sofia LaSpina had to improvise fast. “There wasn’t much time to think and no room for me to run,” LaSpina said. “I only had one choice.” That option was Gabrielle Hanellin, who took a short pass from LaSpina from the 4-yard line and spun her way over the goal line for the eventual winning touchdown with 4:21 remaining as Bellmore-Merrick captured the inaugural Nassau County girls’ flag football championship with a 12-7 victory May 26. An interception by Bellmore-Merrick’s Adriana Iemma thwarted the Owls’ final possession on a day when both defenses thrived.
Mepham softball In the opening game of the Nassau Class A softball best-of-three championship series, Mepham proved again that no deficit was too large for it to overcome, stunning neighboring Calhoun in walk-off fashion May 27. Then, the following morning, the second-seeded Pirates came out swinging, scoring six times in the top of the first inning and never looking back on the way to capturing a third straight county title with a 10-4 victory in Game 2. They went on to repeat as Long Island champs, led by senior infielders Alanna Morse and Hailey Guerrero, and sophomore pitcher Giselle DeLutri.
East Rockaway softball Keeping with its theme all spring, East Rockaway opened the Nassau Class B softball best-of-3 finals May 27 against defending county champion Oyster Bay with its 17th come-from-behind win of the season. In Game 2, the Rocks took a different approach and busted out to a rare early lead, scoring 3 runs in the top of the first inning on the way to completing a series sweep with a 9-5 victory at Mitchel Field. Seniors Mimi Bilardello and Adriana Ramirez, the table-setters at the top of the lineup, both had 2 hits, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored as East Rockaway captured its 15th county crown in program history and 12th in the last 17 years under coach Joe Lores.
Calhoun baseball Facing elimination for the fourth time in a week and trailing Clarke by two runs before even swinging a bat in the decisive Game 3 of the Nassau Class A baseball championship series June 1, Calhoun put together one of its biggest innings of the season at the perfect time. The top-seeded Colts exploded for nine runs on seven hits in the bottom of the second and never looked back on the way to capturing their first county title since 2012 with a 12-6 victory. Senior Alec Edwards singled twice in the inning and drove in a pair of runs, seniors Brian Chin and Andrew Schneir both had two-run hits, and junior Charlie Imhof scored twice and drove in a run. The Colts weren’t done there. They defeated Rocky Point three days later, 8-3, for the Long Island Class A crown.
Hewlett boys’ tennis (Stephan Gershfeld) Stephan Gershfeld’s dream finally came true. The Hewlett junior capped off one of most dominant tennis seasons in school history and became the first male Bulldog in 31 years to win a state singles title after defeating top-seeded Emil Grantcharov of New Rochelle 6-2, 6-2 at the New York State Public High School individual championships in Queens on June 4. Gershfeld has not lost a match in two straight high school seasons entering the tournament and didn’t even drop a set during that time. Last year’s state tourney was canceled because of Covid-19. “This is definitely one of the biggest achievements that I’ve reached in my life,” he said. “Ever since seventh grade, this is the one thing that I’ve been wanting to do and this was definitely the goal and the reason I play high school tennis.”
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