Sports Roundup: Tigers End Year With a Roar
By Tom Walogorsky and Elisabeth Clemmons
For Pawling High School (PHS) athletics, the end of the year saw no shortage of exciting moments and notable achievements. More than 200 high school and 100 middle school students participated in the District’s athletic teams, with many being recognized at the County, League, and Section level.
The athletic year culminated in the annual PHS Varsity Sports Award Dinner held on Friday, June 16. Here are some highlights of the year’s events and achievements.
Varsity Baseball put on an impressive performance under a brand new coach, Bobby Rodriguez. They finished a winning season with a record of 12 – 10 and had important wins over Section 1’s #1 seeded Tuckahoe HS as well as wins against Croton HS, Hastings HS, Irvington HS, Solomon Schechter HS. Captains were Billy Pizzolongo and David Bellucci, who pitched a no-hitter in the Section 1 Tournament quarterfinals over Haldane HS. They earned a 5th seed in the Section 1 Class C Championship Tournament where they eventually lost to Tuckahoe HS 9 – 2, but still celebrated an overall successful season with lots of team and individual growth. Brian Beehler, David Bellucci, and William Pizzolongo were voted All League, and David Bellucci was named All County.
The PHS Varsity Boys Basketball team also had a successful year. Highlights included a 60 – 52 victory over Haldane after a previous defeat and victories over Webutuck, Pine Plains and Yonkers Montessori helped earn entry into the Class C Championship tournament for the 1st time in five years. The team captains were David Bellucci and Juan Galvez and was coached by Jason Kuhlmann and assisted by Bobby Rodriguez and Taren Tanner.
The PHS Girls Basketball team was coached by Greg Blake and assisted by Ariana Hamner and Rich Tompkins. Captains were MacKenzie Meissner and Shannon Ward. The lady Tigers were seeded 4th in the Section 1 Class C Tournament and beat Keio Academy, seeded 5, and qualified to compete in the Sectional 1, Class C Semifinals at the Westchester County Center against Haldane. This was Pawling’s first trip ever to the County Center. While Pawling lost at 37 – 64, they put up a heroic fight and battled through a terrific season like never before.
The Cross Country team continued their streak of achievements under new Head Coach Lena Hickey and assistants Jack Power, Adam Muroski, and James Kelly. At the Section 1 Class C Meetup in Bowdoin Park, the Pawling boys’ team finished in 9th place while the girls finished in 5th. Team captain Katelyn Huggard was named 1st Team All-State in Cross Country, as well as All-Section, All-County and All-League.
The PHS Dance Team continued to dazzle its audiences with expressive, artistic performances, Started five years ago by Gillian Rinaldo, a Biology teacher and Science Research instructor at the high school, the team has since grown in both size and reputation as these dancers perform annually at their Winter and Spring Recitals. Captains were Abigail Brennan, Rachele Lena, Sharon Serna and Elizabeth Sharon.
The Pawling Tiger girls’ field hockey team was coached by veteran June Lagan and assisted by Colette Brenneman and Ariana Hamner. Team Captains were Ayla Bradley and Sarah Campbell. The team completed yet another winning season. Sarah Campbell and Ava Panzer earned All-Elite honors, while Carly McGrath was honorable mention. Campbell also earned All County accolades. Along with Campbell, Panzer and McGrath, Frankie Fleming, Lauren McGreal earned All-League honors while Samantha Smith, Courtney Adams, and Isabella Santiago earned honorable mention All-League. Each year for over a decade the team has earned a trip to the Section 1 tournament with a number of Section 1 Championships and a regional title under Coach Lagan’s tutelage.
For PHS Football, 2016 was another season to remember. Led by team captains David Bellucci, Terence Costigan, Paul Bellucci, Matthew Kuhlmann, and Billy Pizzolongo, the football Tigers finished the season with six wins against only one loss and nearly completed the first undefeated season in over 20 years! The Tigers just missed the mark on the very last play of a heartbreaking one-point loss to Sullivan West ending with a 26 – 25 overtime loss on the road. They experienced a number of dominating wins, not letting opponents like Haldane or Yonkers score a single point. On Senior Night, they scored a triumphant 28 – 7 over Roscoe, capping off the season with a note of victory. This year, the team was coached by Jason Kuhlmann and assisted by Bobby Rodriguez, Frank McKenna, and Taren Tanner.
The Varsity Golf team, under coaches Donald Utter and Brian Ostyn, produced three players that were named All League. Zachary Castro, Emily Hicks, and Cameron Walters each received this honor, with Kyle Castro, and Andra Sullivan achieved All League Honorable Mention. The team emerged victorious in games against schools like Putnam Valley. Captain Emily Hicks shot a 50 at a tournament at Garrison. The team saw a huge increase in the number of female players, with a record of eight girls joining this year. If the number of female players continues to grow, a Girls Golf squad may form.
PHS Ice Hockey put on a competitive performance this year. They won against the Shepaug/ Litchfield Ice Hockey team and put up a strong fight against other schools like Rye Town and Brewster. The team was coached by Chip Ackerman. Captain Joe Currie received All-League and Co-
Captains, Matthew Cantisani and Nicolas Merendino received honorable mention All-League.
It was another competitive season for Boys Lacrosse. Under Coach Chip Ackerman, the team played intense matches against schools such as Haldane and won against Yonkers, Rye Neck, and Peekskill. They competed in Sectionals and hope to continue their success next year. The team finished with an overall record of 5 – 7. Captain Steve Caione was named All League, with All League Honorable Mentions going to Co-Captains Sean Dazi and Peter Reid.
Coached by Robert Walters, a mostly 8th and 9th grade Girls Lacrosse team surprised its League competitors by qualifying for the Sectional playoffs for the very first time after scoring key wins. Ayla Bradley and Lauren McGreal were team captains. The team finished the season with a record of 4 – 14. Morgan McCarthy reached her 100th career varsity goal during a game against school powerhouse North Salem and set the single goal record for Pawling, scoring a total of 101 goals. Sara Corbi, an 8th grader, reached her 100th career save in goal in a game against Hastings. Sara had a total of 162 saves for the season. Morgan McCarthy was awarded All Section Honorable Mention, with teammates Lauren McGreal, Kiera Tucci, and Sara Corbi all being named All League.
A recent addition to the sports offered at Pawling High includes skiing, coached by Mike Bellucci and combined with the ski team from Brewster. The ski squad includes three students from Pawling who made it to the Sectionals, including Darby Ainsworth, Team Captain Ayla Bradley, Tyler Kemmer, and Alexandra Sawotka. Bradley, Kemmer and Sawotka all earned All League honors while Ainsworth earned All-League honorable mention.
This year’s Boys Soccer team was led again by Coach Travis Light and assisted by Steven Malone. Overall, they enjoyed yet another season of team bonding and intense matches and will strive for even more success next year with a strong crew of young players returning to the program.
The Girls Soccer team, coached by Kerry Pinelli and assisted by Gillian Rinaldo, had a number of successes, including a victory against Keio Academy. Captains were Kelly Koerner, Emily Hicks, and Alicia Chu. The team will miss their seniors, but look forward to the upcoming season in fall 2018 for more excitement on the field.
One of the most exciting sports stories this season was Varsity Softball, led by Coach John Hodge. Team Captains were Sarah Campbell, Julia Krasinski, Mikayla Ward, and Shannon Ward. Ranked #1 in the section, the team finished with an impressive 16 – 5 record. They advanced to the Class C Section Final before falling short to Haldane 3 – 2. Reaching their fourth league championship in a row, many players received individual acclaim. Olivia Zoeller was named All Section, and All League honors were given to Sarah Campbell, Julia Krasinski, Kayla Chavarri, Alison Parent, Mikayla Ward, and Shannon Ward. Isabella Santiago and Samantha Smith also received All League Honorable Mentions.
The PHS Tennis team welcomed two new coaches this year: James Agostinelli and Nicole Johnson. First Singles Martha Topolnitski also won 12 victories to only 2 losses this season, placing third at the Section 1 Conference III tournament and qualifying for the Section 1 tournament. Team captains were Justina Yeung and Aishwarya Govindarajan.
Track & Field
Another continued streak of success: This year, for the Indoor 2016 Section 1 Class C Championships, the Boys and Girls Track & Field teams both ranked in 5th place. For the Outdoor 2017 Section 1 Class C Championships, the boys’ team ranked 3rd overall and the girls’ ranked 5th. Paul Bellucci was named the Class C Champion in discus throw. Several students qualified for the State Qualifications at White Plains HS, where Ben Muro won the 400 hurdles and qualified for the State meet. At the State Championships, he finished in 11th place, ending the year on a triumphant note. Indoor Track Captains were Lauren Pecora, Katelyn Huggard, and Ben Muro, while Paul Bellucci joined them as a captain for Spring Track .
The PHS Girls’ Volleyball team was undefeated in their regular season, earning them a ride to the New York State Class C final on November 20, 2016. There, the team competed against powerhouse Eden Junior-Senior High School. Though the Tigers were ultimately defeated finishing 2nd in Class C in New York State, the season was nothing but a triumph for the girls as they received the titles of League Champions, Section 1 Champions, and Regional Champions. Individual players also received recognition: team captain Jaclyn Smith, now set to play volleyball in college next year, was named First Team All-State, Conference Player of the Year, and Poughkeepsie Journal Player of the Year. Laura Kuhlmann was named 5th Team All-State, Clara Lombardo 2nd Team All-State, Mikayla and Shannon Ward, Elsie Martin along with Smith, Lombardo, and Kuhlmann achieved All-League honors, and Emma Martin and Julia Krasinski achieved Honorable Mention status. Krasinski was also recognized with the State Sportsmanship Award. Coach Jessica Pulford was named Poughkeepsie Journal, League, Conference and Section One Coach of the Year.
The PHS Wrestling team came second in the League and capped off an outstanding season with a new record of 11 wins and 7 losses. Captains were Matt Kuhlmann, Jack Wrobel, Noah Fleishman, and Paul Bellucci. Bellucci, Kuhlmann, Alex Santanna and Wrobel each earned All Section honors, while Noah Fleishman, Brett Giannantonio, Luke Wrobel and James Bellucci captured All-Section honorable mention. Jerome Scott and Zach Smith with Paul and James Bellucci, Fleishman, Giannantonio, Kuhlmann, and Jack Wrobel all earned All-League status. Jack Wrobel and Alex Santana earned the highly coveted Section 1 Championship titles and went on to compete at the State Championships in Albany in the 138 lb. and 99 lb. titles. The team was coached by Joe Amuso assisted by Steven Malone.
Pawling High School Student-Athletes:
Another great source of pride comes from the exceptional showing by many of the District’s scholar-athletes this past year. Altogether, there were 37 students who played three sports. In addition, another 16 student-athletes maintained an overall cumulative academic average over 90, and yet another 10 student-athletes held an average above 100. This group includes two students who finished in the top ten of the senior class.
At the annual awards dinner, The Pawling Tiger Athletic Club announced they would award one senior from each program with the Tiger Scholarship Award for Spirit and Dedication. In the amount of $150, this scholarship was given to athletes who exhibit true Tiger spirit, dedication to their sport, and unwavering team commitment. Two scholar athlete awards for $250 each were distributed to two students who excelled academically as three-sport athletes. Recipients were Ben Muro (soccer, indoor track, outdoor track) and Emily Hicks (soccer, dance, golf) In all, $3,800 was awarded to the student athletes.
Also receiving honorary plaques were the two Athletes of the Year. These went to Katelyn Huggard (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) and David Bellucci (football, basketball, baseball).