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Clarke athletes back in action

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Some Clarke High School student-athletes are back in action, while others have renewed hope following a high-risk sports go-ahead from New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo last Friday.

Low- and moderate-risk winter sports began Jan. 4 when despite rising Covid-19 numbers, bowling, gymnastics, track and field, fencing, swimming/diving and air rifle began practice statewide. High-risk winter sports such as basketball, wrestling, hockey and competitive cheerleading can resume Feb. 1 if approved by the Nassau County Health Department.

So far, Clarke is competing in bowling and track and field.

“It’s definitely not the same but it’s working out great so far,” Rams boys’ track coach Brian Doxey said. “The county coordinators for track were able to get the season moving for us, and the kids are glad to be out there.”

Nassau’s track and field schedules had to be revamped after the county was notified by St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington it would be unable to host meets inside its fieldhouse. Instead, Section VIII, the governing body for Nassau high school athletics, moved to Plan B, which calls for outdoor meets at high schools. Clarke, with a boys’ roster down to 20 from its usual 35, is one of only a handful of schools with some in-person meets.

Doxey said junior Liam Farrell, who has a county championship in the weight throw under his belt, junior Alex Pereira (sprints/middle distance) and junior Kenny He (distance) are leading the way.

The girls’ track roster is down more than 50 percent in size, but coach Meaghan Crimmins Serravite said the 14 girls comprise a fun, hard-working group that’s motivated. “We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments but it’s going well,” she said. Back to lead the way is junior Natacia Huang, the defending winter county champ in the high jump. Sophomores Laura Deversi (shot put) and Amanda Chavarria (sprints) are showing plenty of promise.

Bryan Landini, who coaches boys’ bowling, said the Rams are hoping to flip the switch on three-time defending county champion Seaford this season and earn the title. Clarke has finished runner-up three times in a row.

“We have some outstanding three-sport athletes who’ll be doing something besides bowling as college athletes,” Landini said. “They don’t like to lose. I think if we do a good job making spares, we can get over the top.”

The Nassau bowling championships are tentatively scheduled for Feb. 20 at Garden City. The Rams’ chances hinge on seniors Matt Destefano, Brendan Sullivan, John Kern and James Patti, as well as sophomore Joe Carroll. On the girls’ side, coach Courtney Castle said senior Cosette Bedoya and sophomores Andraya Givargis and Nicolette Normandia carry the highest averages.

There’s now growing optimism for the four winter sports deemed “high risk” (basketball, wrestling, hockey and cheerleading) following the state’s new guidelines announced last Friday.

“We are excited about the potential opportunity to play,” Clarke girls’ basketball head coach Shaun Fean said.