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 Districts 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 Im 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, Youre our champion . . . for the third consecutive year.
In ski racing as in track, its you against the clock, he added. The fastest down the hill wins, period!
Karl McCormack was selected as the teams 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.
Youre 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 teams assistant coach and James Tyles was the team manager.
According to indoor track co-coach George Shakelton, Mike VanWagenen who was named the teams 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 squads 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 didnt 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 teams 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 teams 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 girls 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 its hard to wow the crowds, but they did a tremendous job, said varsity basketball cheerleading coach Tara Brey.
Kaitlyn Wingert was named the squads 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 shed 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 teams 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 coachs 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 dont have a Most Improved Player, but if we did it would go to Brian . . . the light went on and hes 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 Ive ever seen in a basketball player . . . if his hands are on the ball, nobodys 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 squads 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 teams leading scorer with an average of 17.9 points per game.
He wasnt 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.