After accomplishing a memorable season, the Somerville High girls track team placed one final exclamation point on a successful campaign. At the Somerville City Club on March 12th, 12 awards were presented to outstanding athletes by High School Headmaster Tony Ciccariello, Athletic Director Nicole Viele, as well as assistant headmasters Joe Burke, Eve Jones and John Oteri.
"Over 125 people were in attendance and it was success," said coach Charles O'Rourke in regards to the banquet. "We had a lot of people there, and I think it just goes to show how much support there is for the program. We had a great season, and we couldn't have ended it on a higher note. We had a lot of girls step up and contribute and they all did a great job."
As for the awards, Nicole Genard captured the team's high scorer award. Gerard, who qualified for the all-states in the high hurdles, emerged as one of the top highlights of the Highlanders season. Other impressive accomplishments included Jessica Lopes, who was named as the team's unsung hero. Junior Jessica Masse, who qualified for all-states in the shotput, was also named as the team's most improved athlete.
"(Masse) had a wonderful season and she took our throwers to a whole another level," said O'Rourke. "She did a fabulous job."
Earning rookie of the year honors for the Highlanders were the freshmen duo of Genard and Tayla Plett.
In receiving the coaches' award, Justine Homsi guided the Highlanders in several track events while Michelle Meranda also picked up the assistant coaches' award.
Receiving captains' plaques were the tandem of Homsi, Esther Sainterling, Rose Mathieu and Jessica LeBrun.
Establishing school records was the sophomore sensation of Sasha Garczynski, who recorded an astounding time of 1:42.54 in the 600 meters, along with a time of 3:10.53 in the 1000 meters.
Highlanders who earned Greater Boston League All-Star status were Genard, Thethe Selenga, Mathieu, Garczynski, Casse Marsden and Masse.
As for next year's captains, the Highlanders will be guided by Sabrina Ozit, Masse and Conde.
"The girls did a great job this season," said O'Rourke. "They were indeed a special group to coach and hopefully, we'll be able to continue it this spring."
Culminating another successful season, the Somerville High boys track team received a multitude of awards in the annual winter banquet held at the Somerville City Club on March 12th.
Earning Greater Boston League all star status was senior Kyler Evitt, who competed in the mile run, while Verly Jean delivered in the hurdles. Other all-stars included Keenan Augusts in the shotput, Nathaniel Evers in the 600 and Marcello Ciampa in the dash.
"Keenan and John won at the GBL Championships," said coach Dave Dickerson. "And the others owned the top time in their events during the season."
Emerging as the outstanding field event athlete event award was sophomore John Thomas at the high jump. Thomas who cruised to a victory in the freshman and sophomore championships, also captured the top spot in the league meet, clearing the bar with a state qualifying score of 5'10".
Sophomore Edward Chen, who won the both the league and freshman/sophomore meet in the hurdles, qualified for the Division 1 state championships, also placed third in the dash at the freshman/sophomore meet.
Recording the outstanding distance award was sophomore Tim Sullivan, who captured the two mile at the freshman/sophomore meet. In addition, he posted a time of 4:46, to grab fourth place at the league championship meet.
After suffering a quad injury playing baseball in the off-season, Augustus earned comeback of the year honors, while winning the shotput at the league championships.
"He was hurt in the baseball season with an ugly looking injury to his right quad," said Dickerson. He won the shotput with a league best throw at the GBL Championships."
Earning the most improved award was senior Scott Fitzgerald in the two-mile, who was the fourth leading scorer on the team. While placing second in the league championships, Fitzgerald earned a 12th place result with a time of 4:40.
Senior Bendhjy Naziare and freshman Andryc Evich received rookies of the year award while leading the Highlanders to several strong finishes in a number of events.
"A first season impact athlete, (Nazjare) improved as the season progressed in the 600 and 300 meter run and then moved up to the 4x800m relay at the Division 1 State Championships," said Dickerson. "We'll get him for one more season outdoor before he heads off to college next year.
(Evich) started inconspicuously but just kept on building up to being a competitive athlete in the GBL. Not afraid to practice on Saturdays, he ran his best at the end of the season with a strong 1000 yard run at the GBL Junior Varsity meet."
Notching the unsung hero award was senior Robby Lyons, who emerged as the fifth leading scorer on the team.
"Robby has great leadership and practice habits," said Dickerson. "He constantly reminded everyone what was needed in practice and at meets, placed third in the 1000 meters at the GBL Championships in qualifying for the D1 State meet. He was the 5th leading scorer on a team of all-stars."
Emerging as a proud recipient of the coaches' award was senior standout Kyler Evitt, who delivered one of the school's top times at 4:32 in a meet against league champions Cambridge.
"There was quite an over the top write up about all this guy has accomplished in his years at SHS," said Dickerson. "The real truth is that Kyler shows up every day because he wants to; not because he has to. He is the real deal and he did everything from organizing the team warm-up to putting away the equipment at the end of meets and practice. He always had a few encouraging and commanding comments prior to meets. Pushed the Highlanders to the lead against Cambridge with two events remaining while running one of the top 3 times ever run on the SHS indoor Track (4:32 equivalent of a sub 4:26 mile on a 200 meter track), while defeating the eventual Division 1 two-mile State Champion in our house. It would have been great to see him display the fruits of all the hard work at the GBL & State meet, but the Flu won out at an inopportune time. Anyone else would be devastated, but Kyler will be back."
After leading the Highlanders in points, Jean received the honors as the team's Most Valuable Player, posting solid and consistent performances in both the hurdles and the high jump.
"(Jean) picked up the mantle as the GBL's best hurdler in only his second full year on the team, went undefeated during the season in the hurdles and scored key points in the high jump. He was the top seed at the GBL Championships with the best time in the preliminary round but caught the penultimate hurdle in the final allowing an Everett running to sneak by."
Also picking up the Donald Kirton Memorial Award was senior Israel Rodriguez, who not only shined in the spotlight on the track, but off of it with his tireless commitment of community service at the YMCA.
"The winner of this award encompasses many great characteristics that we look for in our athletes and he has worked through some obstacles to be where he is today (accepted to attend Salem State next fall)," said Dickerson. "He'll run any event asked and actually wishes we had a three-mile run in high school track."
Following a team vote, next year's senior captains will be John Thomas, Augustus, Tim Sullivan and Chen.
|By Mike Rubin|
Led by a multitude of solid performances, a large number of middle school athletes shined in the spotlight at the 20th Annual Elementary Track and Field Championships held on March 10th at Somerville High School.
On the boys side, Winter Hill posted a team score of 77, followed by East Somerville who notched 53. Other participants included the Argenziano (19), the Healey (12) and the Kennedy Elementary Schools (eight).
Earning Most Valuable Player honors was Phoenix Huertas of Winter Hill, who captured both the 50-yard hurdles and high jump while Josue Rubio of East Somerville finished with honorable mention.
In the mile run, Winter Hill's Andre Rolim won his second consecutive race in the mile, posting a time of 6:15, while Huertas captured the 50-yard hurdles (8.4). Leading the way in the dash was Troy Martini of the Kennedy, who also posted his second consecutive win in with a time of 6.2, followed by Shyheem Silvia's victory in the 220 yard dash (33.0).
Leading the way in the 300 yards was Rubio, who cruised to a win in the 300 yards (44.0), followed by Carlos Guerra of East Somerville, who won the 600 yards (1:56).
In the high jump, Huertas, Rubio and Guerra all finished in a three way tie for first, clearing the bar at 4'6", while Christian Colon of Winter Hill rolled to a victory in the shotput (32'8").
For the girls, the Healey cruised to a win with a score of 57 points, followed by the Winter Hill (38), Kennedy (36) and the Argenziano (14).
Recording Most Valuable Player honors was Jennifer DiPersio of Winter Hill, who finished first in the high jump and second in the 600 yard race, while Jucline Felix earned honorable mention.
In the mile run, Melissa Baptista cruised to a win, finishing with a time of 7:31, while Brianna Dell'Isola captured the 50-yard hurdles. In the dash, Felix rolled to a win in with a time of 7.03, followed by Melissa Sanon in the 220 yard race (34.7). Leading the way in the 300 yards was Melinda Haley of the Healey, who finished in a tie for first with Winter Hill's Gelynne Berger, who posted a time of 51.1.
In the 600 yards, Shykela McAndrew of the Healey earned a victory with a time of 2:15.9, followed by DiPerserio's win in the high jump (3'4"). Also posting a strong performance in the shotput was Roselie Preval of the Kennedy, who finished with a first place toss of 30'3", while the 4x160 relay team of Julie Melgar, Jasmine Bejarano, Preval and Felix emerged victorious with a time of 1:45.
Off the ice, Cam Lynch is calm, cool and composed, but on it, he emerged as one of the fiercest competitors to have ever donned the Somerville High hockey sweater. And despite injuries, illnesses and adversities, this senior defenseman finished out his fine career as a Highlander in fine fashion.
"It's hard to believe that it's all over," said Lynch in reflecting on his successful high school hockey career. "I've had a lot of great memories here on the team, and I've made a lot of friends that I'm sure I'll have for the rest of my life. When I look back, I'll have a lot of great memories I had with my coaches and teammates."
A lifelong Somerville native, Lynch's passion for the sport developed at the tender age of three where he would often watch various family members compete at both the high school and collegiate levels.
"I remember seeing my cousin and my dad skate around and play in leagues," said Lynch. "I just knew that playing hockey was just something I always wanted to do. As soon as I started walking, I was anxious to pick up some skates and hit the ice."
Only three years old, Lynch's family enrolled him in a Learn to Skate Program, where he slowly developed into a budding prospect. Following intense practices with family and fellow friends, Lynch participated in the city's youth hockey program, where he slowly emerged through the ranks and developed into a solid forward.
Toiling through the Midgets, Mites and Pee Wees, Lynch also learned valuable experience throughout his elementary and middle school years as a member of various travel teams.
"It was a lot of fun because I learned a lot from playing under my coaches,' said Lynch "I made a ton of friends, and really experienced a lot. It was just so much fun, and I just continued to fall in love with hockey. It's something I did almost every day and I stuck with it, and just tried to get better each and every day."
After completing his middle school years, Lynch was faced with a decision to venture off to preparatory and private schools. Following days of agonizing uncertainty, Lynch decided to continue his high school education at Somerville High, a move he hasn't regretted one bit.
"It was tough because I had some offers from other local schools to play hockey," said Lynch. "I probably could've played at either Matignon or Malden Catholic, but I decided to stay here at Somerville and be with all the friends I grew up and played hockey with. I'm happy I decided to stay here at Somerville, and I never really thought twice about it."
During his freshman season, Lynch saw limited action on the ice rotating between forward and defense. As Lynch adapted to performing at the high school level, the Highlanders struggled through a three-win season.
"It was tough because we were losing a lot of games, and I was making some adjustments between playing forward and defense," recalled Lynch. "We had trouble clicking at times, and we went up against some tough teams that season."
As a sophomore Lynch didn't see a lot of action, as the Highlanders continued to struggle through a six-win campaign.
"It's tough sitting on the bench," said Lynch. "We had a lot of older guys on the team, so all I could do is continue to work hard and learn from them. There were times where I could've just walked away and quit the team, but I just continued to hang in there because I loved the sport and wanted to be with my teammates."
After experiencing a pair of rough seasons, the Highlanders hired Mike Bertoni and the atmosphere quickly changed on the ice and in the locker room.
"We knew that when he (Bertoni) came on to coach us, there was just a different feeling in the air," said Lynch. "He's (Bertoni) really motivated everyone and brought out the best in the team. We just knew that things were going to turn around and they did.
Led by goaltender Billy Weiand, the Highlanders roared off to a 10-1-1 start before finishing the season with an impressive 12-4-4 mark. Lynch was also shifted from forward to defense, where he registered 12 points (2-10-12).
"I just wanted to do anything to help the team win," said Lynch. "We all bought into his (Bertoni's) philosophy and he was trying to experiment with different things, and thought I would be a good fit on defense. It was a lot of fun playing defense and I definitely enjoyed it."
Despite posting a successful regular season, the Highlanders suffered a tough 1-0 shutout loss to Oliver Ames in the first round of the Division 2 South tournament.
"It was tough because we thought we could win a couple of games and go pretty deep," said Lynch. "But we ran into a hot goaltender, and we just couldn't find a way to get the puck by him."
While the Highlanders finished the regular season off strong, Lynch suffered the scare of his life when he was hospitalized at Children's Hospital with double pneumonia for 18 days. For nearly three weeks, he was incapacitated and breathing through a tube as doctors didn't think he would be able to pull through.
"I had this cold and I was just fighting through it,' said Lynch. "Then one day, I had these awful pains in my chest and I almost collapsed. I was rushed to the hospital and put through all these tubes. They (doctors) didn't think I was going to make it, but I got a lot of support from my family, friends and coaches. They came up to check on me almost every day, and I even got a call from Cam Neely."
Even as Lynch missed the tournament, he managed to place all things in perspective.
"It was a real scary experience and it really forced me to realize how fortunate I am to have great family and friends and coaches," said Lynch. "I'm just very grateful to be alive and be playing hockey again."
After six weeks of rehabilitation, Lynch returned to school and was cleared to play athletics, where he played the last four games of the baseball season.
"I really didn't think I was going to play again," said Lynch. "After all I went through; to go back out and play sports again was just a victory in itself. I just tried to enjoy every minute of it while I was out there."
Despite losing an abundance of seniors to the cap and gown from last year's hockey squad, the Highlanders remained upbeat regarding their return to the tournament. After winning the Greater Boston League holiday tournament, the Highlanders were on course for another bid to the playoffs. Instead injuries and other issues led to a losing streak midway through the season.
Needing to win three out of their final four games to qualify for the tournament, the Highlanders' bid for a return fell just short after a 4-2 loss to Melrose in the first round of the Winthrop tournament.
"It's tough to come that close to the tournament, and to fall just short," said Lynch. "I was hoping we would be able to qualify in my senior year and have that experience, but we just couldn't."
A three sport athlete, Lynch served as a valuable member of the golf team, earning league all-star status and is also slated to be penciled in as the Highlanders starting second baseman come this spring.
"I'm definitely looking forward to be playing baseball in the spring," said Lynch. "We've been practicing the past few weeks in the gym, just trying to get loose and get ready for the season when it starts."
As for future plans, Lynch is uncertain, but intends on continuing his hockey career at some level, either in juniors in college or at post graduate school.
"It's really all going to come down to the economics," said Lynch. "I'd definitely like to play hockey in college, but we'll see what happens. Hopefully it'll all work out."
With the bitter cold and the snow slowly fading away, it's time to take one final look back at the successful season of the Somerville High girls basketball team.
Following an impressive 15-5 mark, along with an 8-0 mark en route to another Greater Boston League title, the Highlanders delivered an impressive 66-48 first round win over Beverly before succumbing to Andover in a 56-41 defeat in the Division 1 North quarterfinal match. Also recording a milestone victory was veteran coach Brian Harris, who posted his 300th career win in the Highlanders' win over Beverly. Overall, Harris has delivered a 246-136 mark at Somerville while boasting a 54-50 mark at Arlington Catholic.
"I really didn't think about it (300th career win)," said Harris. "All I knew was that we had two days to prepare for our game against Andover, and we had to cram in a lot of information in one practice. If we had a couple of more days to prepare, and study them, then who knows what would've happened."
Top performances included sophomore sensation Kelsey Garrity, who delivered a career high 25 points in an overtime loss to Notre Dame of Hingham. Notre Dame of Hingham captured the Division 2 Eastern Mass Championship and later vied for the state title, which took place last weekend.
"In beginning of the year we had hopes to make a statement for ourselves," said Garrity. "We have always been the underdogs and never really hit our high standards. From game one, all of us wanted to start out with a bang, but going down 0-2 right away just shocked us. Then we won our tournament and our confidence flew back up."
Just when the season had appeared to have turned the corner, the Highlanders continued to suffer roadblocks along the way. During one game following the Christmas break, senior Jill Liberatore suffered a season ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee while Jennie Vallesio sprained her ankle, forcing her to miss the bulk of the regular season. As a result, the Highlanders were searching for answers.
Despite the injuries, the Highlanders overcame adversity and managed an impressive run, including an 11 game winning streak to end the regular season, including a season sweep of top ranked Lynn English.
"We hit some rocks in the season losing our starting shooting guard to a freak accident and our backup point guard to a really bad ankle injury in the same game," said Garrity. "We really had no clue where that would take us. We pulled it all together and won 11 straight. We just pulled our selves together - we never put our heads down - we where there for each other, worked hard in practice and didn't worry about the changes."
Finishing the regular season on a high note, the Highlanders were seeded fifth and cruised to a 66-48 win first round home win over Beverly.
"When tournament time came coach Harris deserved his 300th win," said Garrity. "I think that we were the perfect team to give him that win. We had a lot of momentum going for us heading into the Andover game, and we were hoping We felt really strong - when Andover came I really thought we were going to shock Massachusetts, but it just wasn't meant to be. We did everything we could do, but in the end we came up short. I think from my 8 years of playing basketball that that game was the moment I was waiting for."
While the Highlanders' season may have fallen well short of a Division 1 state title, it's certainly been a season to remember for both the players and the coaching staff.
"The girls just kept working harder and harder every day in practice," said Harris. "They kept working through the sicknesses and the injuries, and did a fabulous job. They showed commitment to the team, and they left it all out on the court."
With a whopping 12 seniors lost to the cap and gown, the Highlanders will aim to regroup come next year when they'll once again be favored to defend the Greater Boston League title.
One key asset for the Highlanders' success over the next two years will be Garrity, who averaged 18 points and six assists per game while earning all-star status in the process and developing into one of the league's top point guards.
"Next year is going to be tough to look onto," added Garrity. "We have to work hard from day one. Losing 12 seniors is going to be rough. We have three full time varsity people coming back and three half junior half varsity girls coming back. That means incoming freshman, freshman now, and junior varsity players have to start working because the Somerville girls basketball program has a lot of potential and we don't want to lose it."