Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  SPORTS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives
Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

VANESSA KLINE SMILES brightly after accepting the “Miss Basketball 2003-2004” award at Tuesday night’s ceremony.

Honoring the Top
Of SW's Talent

By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON — March 26, 2004 – It was a Bulldogs kind of night.
On Tuesday evening, folks turned out in droves for the Sullivan West Central School District’s 2003-2004 Winter Sports Awards ceremony. The event was held in the auditorium of the new high school in Lake Huntington.
“We are here to honor our athletes and applaud them once more for their accomplishments on behalf of this school,” said SW Superintendent Michael Johndrow.
He said the teams showed “exceptional sportsmanship and team spirit” both in competition and in the spirit of further uniting the merged district.
High School Principal Margie Tenbus complimented the student-athletes on the way they carried themselves, and extended that recognition to a “select group of fans that we have called the ‘Dog Pound,’ who in their own right represented Sullivan West with grace, poise and enthusiasm”
Throughout the ups and downs of the season, Tenbus kept a firm leash on the ‘Dog Pound,’ a spirited gang of high schoolers who turned out in force to howl for the home team and bark at the opposition.
“These are my kids, and I’m damn proud of them,” Tenbus said of the members of the winter sports teams.
Next up to the podium was SW Athletic Director Dave Franskevicz, who introduced the coaching staff.
“It was an absolute pleasure to be their coach,” said John McCormack, coach of the varsity alpine ski team.
In awarding the Most Valuable Female Skier trophy to Katie Thelman, McCormack said, “You’re our champion . . . for the third consecutive year.
“In ski racing as in track, it’s you against the clock,” he added. “The fastest down the hill wins, period!”
Karl McCormack was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Male Skier. Out of the 43 races he competed in, McCormack placed in the top 10 in all his giant slaloms and in slalom, finished in the top 15 each time.
“You’re the backbone of our team,” John McCormack said of his son.
In addition to Karl McCormack and Thelman, members of the varsity alpine ski team included Greg Brewer, Matt DeCristofaro and Kenneth Rhodes.
Jennifer Tyles served as the team’s assistant coach and James Tyles was the team manager.
According to indoor track co-coach George Shakelton, Mike VanWagenen – who was named the team’s Male MVP – swept the Sullivan County meet, winning the 1,000- meter, 1,600 and 3,200 events.
He finished fourth at the state qualifiers in the 3,200 meters, setting a SW record time of 10:22.
Jessica Wagner, who received the Most Improved Female award, was seeded at 55, 300 and 600 meters. She set a personal record (PR) of 46.17 seconds in the 300 and a PR of 1:49.7 in the 600.
Steve Daley was tabbed Most Improved Male, and Evelyn Hett was named MVP Female.
Members of the varsity indoor track squad: Jessica Armstrong, Jereme Bivins, Eleanor Bryan, Chanele Cooper, Matt Cormier, Daley, Hett, Joe Layman, Michele Manzi, Ashley Murphy, Steve Musso, Adam Nebzydoski, Ashley Relyea, Erin Rosenberger, Bryan Sandler, VanWagenen, Wagner and Amanda Ward.
Shakelton and Ron Bauer were the squad’s co-coaches.
Ron Bernhardt has been coaching girls’ varsity hoops for 27 years, and he shared a bit of his basketball philosophy before handing out awards.
“With a 14-6 [won-lost] record and no banners to hang, some might dismiss it as a hohum, nondescript or mediocre season,” Bernhardt said. “But we were contenders . . . and didn’t back down from anybody.
“It was anything but a hohum season, it was a great trip,” he added. “I believe in all my heart that athletics is one of the finest preparations for the ups and downs of the human life cycle . . . basketball gives you a sense of pride and self-discipline.”
Jessica Lederman was named Best Defensive Player as the team’s leading rebounder.
“She grabbed 156 rebounds for an average of eight per game,” said Bernhardt.
Vanessa Kline was tabbed “Miss Basketball 2003-2004,” and was described by her coach as the team’s most versatile player. She scored 159 points (an average of eight per game).
Kline was also second in scoring, third in rebounding (114) and second in assists with 44. In addition, she led her Lady Bulldogs in steals with 47 (an average of 2.3 per game) and was chosen for the Section IX All-Star Team.
Members of the girl’s varsity basketball squad: Madeline Argueta, Cassandra Busing, Katie Cappiello, Jamie Clifford, Autumn Darder, Kate Fanning, Kline, Heather Lander, Lederman, Nadine McCarthy and Rachel Peloquin.
In addition to Bernhardt, the coaching staff included Kurt Scheibe (assistant coach), Shelisa Duquette (part time volunteer manager) and Briana Kline (manager).
“With six girls it’s hard to wow the crowds, but they did a tremendous job,” said varsity basketball cheerleading coach Tara Brey.
Kaitlyn Wingert was named the squad’s Most Improved Cheerleader.
“She worked hard the whole season, and by the end was doing great stunts,” Brey said.
The Most Spirited Cheerleader trophy went to Heather Gorr.
“If you look up ‘cheerleader’ in the dictionary, I think she’d be there,” Brey commented.
The varsity basketball cheerleaders: Brittany Coney, Gorr, Ashley Nicoletti, Rebekah Peters, Alexa Williams and Wingert.
Rick Ellison and his boys’ varsity basketball team had a lot to crow about, including capturing the OCIAA Division IV championship and being the runner-up in the Section IX Class C tournament.
“They all understood the importance of team chemistry,” Ellison said. “They accepted their roles, and put the team’s needs before their own.”
It was emotional crunch time for Ellison as he talked about senior leadership.
“You guys left a nice mark on this program,” he said.
Then it was time for a roll call of the Bulldogs.
• Mike Erlwein, senior – “Dedicated, unselfish, competitive, hustler, great effort, great season . . . thanks for six years.”
• Jon Heinle, senior – “Kept everybody pretty loose on the team, held court and kept everybody in the right frame of mind . . . understood his role and pushed his teammates in practice.”
• Sean Kelly, junior – “Brought a whole new style of play to our team, quality caliber competition that rubbed off on the team . . . a big contributor.”
• Jonah Lagrutta, sophomore – “Probably worked harder than any of the guys . . . no one wanted to guard against him in practice because he sweated so much.”
• Joe Meyer, junior – “Had some tremendously big games for us this year . . . became the ball player we all knew he could be when we brought him up as a freshman.”
• John Nober, junior – “Gave us some very valuable minutes off the bench . . . improved greatly . . . will play a bigger role next season.”
• Billy Nordenhold, senior – “A coach’s dream . . . I wish every team and every coach had a Billy Nordenhold . . . pure class!”
• Scott Peters, junior – “Also known as ‘The Human Tornado’ . . . whenever Scott was in a game, people were on the edge of their seats, you never knew what was going to happen.”
• Brian Parks, junior – “We don’t have a Most Improved Player, but if we did it would go to Brian . . . the light went on and he’s a player now, [he] made our team click.”
• Sean Semenetz, junior – “If we had an award for the ugliest hairdo of the year, he would win it hands down . . . Sean was our ‘Mr. Everything,’ ‘Mr. Versatility’ this year . . . does it all and does it well.”
• Andre Trujillo, junior – “Probably the greatest hands I’ve ever seen in a basketball player . . . if his hands are on the ball, nobody’s getting it. . . improved greatly.”
• Joe Winski, junior – “Very persistent all season long . . . sacrificed a lot of his offensive game so that everybody else on the team could get theirs.”
Kelly was named the squad’s Best Offensive Player.
“His aggressiveness and tough style of play got him to the foul line 159 times where he recorded 100 makes,” Ellison commented. Kelly was the team’s leading scorer with an average of 17.9 points per game.
“He wasn’t afraid to make the tough shots, and he opened things up for his teammates by going to the basket,” Ellison added.
The Best Defensive Player award went to Semenetz.
“He was our most consistent and dynamic player, and always drew the toughest assignments and managed to shut them down because of his heart and smarts,” Ellison said.
Rick Ellison was assisted this season by Cliff Kelly and Bob Menges. The team managers were Chris Ellison, Pete Kelly, Mike Schmidt and Adam Kelly.
As for the “Dog Pound,” Ellison said, “I hope they start a tradition here at Sullivan West that will live on forever.”

top of page  |  home  |  archives