Schools recognize scholar athletes for their achievements


South Side High School’s girls’ cross-country team was a force to be reckoned with during the fall season, claiming the Nassau County championship for the third year in a row.

The Cyclones captured the division, conference, and Class II county titles, and qualified for the state championships in upstate Verona on Nov. 12. There the team finished fifth, but their teamwork and sportsmanship did not go unrecognized.

Carol Roseto, the Rockville Centre School District’s director of physical education, interscholastic athletics and health, joined the 10 runners, head coach Chris Webster and other scholar athletes at the Board of Education meeting on Dec. 7 for a special presentation in recognition of their accomplishments both on the field and in the classroom.

“The girls have won the county championship the last three years in a row, and have accumulated an incredible record of 52 wins and zero losses during the last four years,” Roseto said. “Once again, their dedication and drive resulted in the ‘Covid triple play.’”

Senior Cameron Coletti was a pivotal factor in the squad’s winning streak as its top runner for the second consecutive season. At the Class II county championships in October, at Bethpage State Park, Coletti ran a personal best 19 minutes, 27.43 seconds for the 3.1-mile course, and she finished the season ranked among the top 20 runners in the state. She was also named to the 12th grade high honor role for the first quarter of the school year.

Coletti, junior Claire Bohan and sophomore Lana Jewett finished third, fourth and fifth in the 13-school county meet, and Coletti and Jewett were named to Newsday’s All Long Island team.

“We went into the race favored, but every team has a few super-fast kids,” Webster told the Herald at the county meet. “You don’t win a county championship without a deep roster, and we have 10 talented runners.”

Morgan McKenna, a South Side junior, finished 10th overall at the county championships, in 20:37.93, and freshman Fayola Allison completed the team’s scoring, placing 22nd overall in her first championship race.

All five South Side scorers earned All-County honors for their dominant performance. Seven of the 10 Cyclones runners, including first-year varsity competitors Kate Palya, a sophomore, and junior Noelle Prince, qualified for the state meet, and nine of the 10 earned All-Conference honors.

Senior captain Olivia Scalere, junior Emma Sitterly, and sophomore Hannah Reilly were also major assets for the team, and instrumental in its success.

“This amazing team continues to attract new talented runners into their family,” Roseto said. “This is a team that is a family. They work together. They make each other better runners and they make each other better humans. The discipline they practice on the course transfers off the course, as they are all academic scholars as well.”

Roseto also congratulated two student athletes, Thomas Gentile and Olivia Morin, for having recently signed letters of intent to play for NCAA Division I teams. Gentile will play lacrosse at Boston University, and Morin will join the University of Virginia’s crew team.

Roseto additionally recognized 13 other student athletes and All-County honorees, including Cate Bradley, Keira Bork, Ava Kelly and Sofia Vargas of the SSHS girls’ volleyball team; Alex Vargas of the boys’ volleyball team; Nora Basile, Maggie Colvin, Charley Doreste and Morgan Harloff of the girls’ soccer team; Gavin Goodlad and Ryan McNicholas of the boys’ soccer team; and Jack Lozito and Michael Melkonian of the varsity football team for their performance during the fall season. All of the athletes recognized also studied hard to achieve good grades this semester.

District Superintendent Matt Gaven said that what he loved most about the presentation wasn’t the awards or recognition, but how groups of kids come together with a coach and a mentor to achieve a common goal.

“I will tell you that the thing I am most proud of is the fact that we recognize the scholar athletes,” Gaven said. “That, to me, means that our kids are doing it in the classroom, they’re doing it on the fields, and most importantly, they’re doing it together. And to me, that is about community.”