‘Fire in their bellies’

Sullivan West honors fall sports scholar-athletes

Posted 11/26/19

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — On Wednesday, November 13, Sullivan West Central School held its 2019-2020 junior varsity and varsity fall athletic awards presentation to recognize the accomplishments of …

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‘Fire in their bellies’

Sullivan West honors fall sports scholar-athletes


LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — On Wednesday, November 13, Sullivan West Central School held its 2019-2020 junior varsity and varsity fall athletic awards presentation to recognize the accomplishments of the school’s student athletes on the fields of play, from regular season competition to the playoffs and sectionals. An additional point of celebration was for XC runner Bryce Maopolski reaching the NYS Cross County Championships for the second consecutive year.

Principal Mark Plescia knows a thing or two about sports, as he was a three-season coach for more than 12 years.

In his welcoming address, he reflected upon “the will to compete… It’s what makes an athlete successful. Competitors do not back down from a challenge,” he said. “They look for it, relish in it… just because the game stops, the competition does not stop.

“As usual, sports mirrors life. Never back down, never stop competing, stay focused on your goals, make a plan for what you want, then go get it.”

Following the principal’s opening remarks, athletic director David Franskevicz introduced the coaches as they took center stage, followed by the players and the presentation of awards, before closing out the annual ceremony—put to rest until the annual circle of honors repeats itself next year.

Later in the program, in introducing the scholar athlete selected as the girls’ varsity soccer team’s most valuable defensive player, coach Diana Hahn said of the recipient’s competitive spirit: “This girl fights with a fire in her belly.” In this sports scribblers’ view, that sums up the real meaning of high school sports and was tagged as the lead for this story.

The 2019 Sullivan West Varsity Football Team, co-coached by Ron Bauer and J.P. Lang, along with assistants David Franskevicz, John Hauschild and Justin Diehl

Mason Berlingeri, Christopher Campanelli, Gabriel Campanelli*, Frank Decker, Joe Furlipa, Jason Gaebel*, Justin Grund, Derrick Hanslmaier, Gavin Hauschild, Dylan Jennings, Ryan Joyce-Turner, Justin LeConey, Jason Lowe, Hunter Mall*, James McElroy, John McGarry, Kevin O’Connor, Trevor Peachey, Enoch Peters, Henry Peters*, Ryan Sayers, Tarrell Spencer and Mack Zadubera.

*Gabe Campanelli led the team in rushing with 922 yards

*Jason Gaebel, the team’s leading tackler, was tabbed for the First Team

*Hunter Mall received the 100% Award: “The kid battled all the time, and in sprints he was always number one,” said Bauer. “He always gave a hundred-and-ten percent, never complained, just went out and did what he was told to do.”

*Henry Peters was picked to play on the Senior All-Star Team at Goshen on November 21, was named to the All Section IX Team and the First Team in eight-man football. Peters also received the Captain’s Award: “This guy kept us in the games all the time, kept everybody fired up for a game regardless of who we were playing… as the defensive captain, [he] called all the team’s defensive plays,” said Bauer.

Honorable mentions include Gabe Campanelli, Chris Campanelli, Joe Furlipa and Enoch Peters.

Bauer noted that several players “stuck with the program” for six years: Gabe Campanelli, Henry Peters and Derrick Hanslmaier.

According to veteran coach Bauer, the Bulldogs played a lot of larger B-class schools in eight-man gridiron action, adding, “Overall we played pretty good football… The team finished in third place in the playoffs.

“When the team stayed focused, we played good football. When we failed to focus we made mistakes… and gave up big plays,” he said, noting that as a team the Bulldogs pounded out 2,351 yards rushing, but could have added to that total where it not for “mistakes and penalties.”

The 2019 Varsity Football Cheerleading Squad, coached by Patty Norris

Lyric Hemion, Camille Licursi*, Kelsie Maurizzo*, Emilee Mead, Emily Umbaugh and Anabella Wagner.

*Camille Licursi was awarded with Most Valuable Cheerleader: “Camille had the most positive attitude, was a great team player and gained major confidence throughout the season,” said Norris. “She always had a smile on her face, and treats all with respect and caring.”

*Kelsie Maurrizzio earned the Captain’s Award: “ was captain for two years… She was the only senior on the team and was a great leader and mentor to the younger girls. She will be missed,” said Norris.

“We had a great season with six girls who put their heart and soul into cheering on their team,” said Norris. “We did a halftime routine to ‘Grease,’ and decorated the boys’ locker room for games.”

The 2019 Varsity Volleyball Team, coached by John Meyer

Chloe Barber, Triniti Breihof, Kerintin Burr*, Adrianna Calangelo, Isabella DuBois, Kristina Foster, Sarah Jacobson, Joell McKeon, Alexa Minckler*, Paige Parucki, Carly Simpson and Carrie Sykes.

*Kerintin Burr was awarded with Most Valuable Player: “Keri was our heart and soul,” said Meyer. “She was a leader who led by example. She is a tireless worker in practice, always striving to do better. She was great working with younger players, giving them tips and helping to improve their skills. It will definitely be strange not seeing her on the court next season at Sullivan West, but what she has given to the program will not soon be forgotten.”

*Alexa Minckler earned the Coach’s Award: “Alexa always put the team ahead of herself,” explained Meyer. “She does so many things before I even ask for it to be done. As a senior, she will be truly missed next year. Hopefully, her example will be picked up by the others next year.”

 “Overall, our season wasn’t as successful record-wise as I had hoped,” said Meyer. “But we played many good teams and lost some tough matches. What I was most proud about was that even when we lost, the girls always gave it their best.

“Also, after many of our matches, the opposing coaches would comment how tough we were to play against,” said their helmsman. “The seniors have given us a path to success, and now it’s up to the underclassmen to pick up the torch and move the program forward.”

The 2019 Boys’ Varsity Soccer Team, coached by Kai Murray and assisted by Kristina Verrico

Philip Bergen, Dylan Brockner, William Connors, Nicholas Dworetsky, Tariq Gambari, Roan Gillingham Luis Leon*, Ryan Mace, Henry Marin Leon, Efrain Martinez*, John Muzuruk, William Nearing, Nathan Pereira-Mendoza, Dominic Perez, Nicholas Ramirez, Charley Riedel, Dylan Sager and Sidney South.

*Luis Leon was awarded with Outstanding Playmaker: “I’ve had the pleasure of coaching him for two years,” said Murray. “He’s mature beyond his years and has a high soccer IQ. He inspires the team and has scored some important goals for us this season. The team looks up to him and he always delivers on the pitch.”

*Efrain Martinez was awarded with Most Valuable Player: “ an outstanding goalkeeper… he’s a confident player who commands the back line and trains hard. He averages 20 saves a game… I don’t know where his skills come from, but he’s an inspirational player.”

In a fitting tribute, prior to announcing the special awards, coach Murray called former long-term girls’ soccer coach Mike Ellmauer, who helped out with the boys booters this season, to receive some well-deserved accolades, as the Legends of Section IX coach stood shyly next to the trophy table.

Ellmauer is still active in the coaching-biz, as he served this season as assistant to Rick Ellison, head coach of the girl’s JV soccer team

“This season was a special one,” said Murray, noting that highlights of the year included winning their homecoming game and qualifying for sectionals.

“I’m very proud of the gentlemen on the stage who represented Sullivan West very well in all their games,” he said, adding of the loss of eight seniors to graduation, “…who‘ve done a fine job on the team and mentored the younger players who performed remarkably well.”

The 2019 Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team, coached by Diana Hahn and assisted by Anthony Durkin and Kurt Scheibe

Taylor Allen, Emily Bair*, Grace Boyd, Riley Ernst, Arieron Frazier, Clare Hart, Riley Johnston, Brooke Kloss, Morgan Kraack, Hannah Mailey, Carli Muzuruk, Izabella Rittenhouse, Maggie Russell, Jessica Schwalb, Sofia Seidl, Laura Smith and Jordan Sullivan.

*Emily Bair was awarded with Most Valuable Defensive Player: “She plays in a position that doesn’t usually get a lot of recognition,” said Hahn. “In defense, there isn’t much opportunity for one to have the most goals or high number or assists or glory, but instead their job is to shut down goals, chase people down half the field at full sprint, gain possession, turn the ball and then sprint back half the field to get back into attacking position…This young lady was key to winning and keeping close games close. When most get beat, first instinct is to give up, but this girl fights with fire in her belly, and when we see her run, we put a lot of faith in her that she can, and will catch the opposing player.”

*Maggie Russell earned the Coaches Award: “From a coaching view point, she is a student-athlete all coaches want of their team,” said Hahn, noting that Russell has played four years of soccer at the high-school level. “She demonstrates sportsmanship, teamwork and commitment. Her fierce spirit, determination and passion uplifts and motivates others around her. She understands the importance of teamwork, and how individual success contributes to the overall larger cause.”

“It has been a pleasure coaching this young group of female athletes this season,” said Hahn. “We have overcome numerous obstacles while still continuing to grow in the game as a team. This season was full of change, yet some familiarity… a dramatic change for myself was having to fill the big shoes that Mike  Ellmauer left when he handed me the reigns of the girls’ varsity soccer program, where I hoped to continue to build and develop the program, a program he spent many years putting his heart and soul into.”

The 2019 Boys' and Girls’ Varsity Cross Country Team, coached by April Rutledge and Dee Maopolski, respectivly 

Alex Haberli, Bryce Maopolski*, Reece Maopolski*, Dominic Plescia, Jackson Rittenhouse, Karl Swanson and Gabriel Wasner

Cheyenne Decker, Mikayla DirieL and Rose-Lynn Murphy

*Bryce Maopolski was awarded with Most Valuable Male Runner: “ consistently our top finisher… He trained hard this summer, and his hard work paid off,” said Rutledge, noting that Maopolski won meets against five schools, placed second at Sullivan West’s home meet against Tri-Valley. He did well at several invitational meets, battling against runners from larger schools, placed 38 out of 142 at the OCIAA meet on October 25, and, on November 6, punched his ticket to the NYSPHSAA Championship on Saturday, November 15 in Plattsburg, NY.

*Reece Maopolski won Team Award, as selected by the team: “We held a vote, and they had to write why they felt this person deserved the team award,” explained Rutledge, citing a few of the reasons mentioned in the recommendations. “They were always at practice, encouraging and nice, working hard to get personal best times, always in a good/positive mood, they are just to gosh darn fast, has been putting in the work since day one, and because they have a good attitude for every workout and meet.” Along the road to the team award, Reece Maopolski shaved about three minutes off his best time from last year and this season, clipping off another couple of minutes, placing 17th at sectionals.

*Mikayla Dirie was awarded with Most Valuable Female Runner: “This athlete was the top finisher for the team at all of the meets,” said Rutledge. “She did an excellent job of transitioning from racing 1.5 miles in modified to racing 3.1 miles in varsity. This year, she finished 18th at sectionals, and with more consistency, she should be a contender for the state meet next year.”

During the awards presentation, Maopolski presented an overview of the season, while Rutledge spoke about the accomplishments of the runners and handed out the awards.

“This team is an amazing group of athletes… They banded together like family, and encouraged and cared for each other,” said Maopolski, in essence speaking about both the boys and girls teams.

“Everyone worked hard and improved tremendously throughout the season” said Rutledge, adding, “At the beginning of each season, we do a time trial around the lake which is approximately three miles, and then we do it again at the end of the season to compare their times.”

And the improvements from the start to the conclusion of the season?

Bryce Maopolski progressed by a minute, Reece Maopolski shaved 2:15 minutes off his time, Swanson boosted his best by 3:45, Rittenhouse bettered his posting by four minutes in spite of running with an aching knee, Plescia tweaked it by three minutes, Haberli upgraded by five minutes and Wasner improved by six minutes.

On the girls’ side of the roster, Decker improved by five minutes, Murphy by three minutes and Dirie bested her best by two minutes.

“These numbers are truly amazing, and I cannot wait to see what they will accomplish next year,” said Rutledge.


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