Garden City and St. Anthony's: Big-time talent

Garden City attacker Devin Dwyer looks to pass

Garden City attacker Devin Dwyer looks to pass against Carey. (March 21, 2012) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Gregg Sarra

Newsday Columnist Gregg Sarra Gregg Sarra

Gregg Sarra is Newsday's high school sports columnist and writer.

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This is the third year of Newsday's Big 10 rankings. The list of exceptional teams in the fall, winter and spring is an opportunity to measure the best of the best regardless of sport.

Of course, it's a fun and somewhat arbitrary ranking that has little wiggle room with so many dominant schools in various sports.

These teams are judged through performance, longevity of success and degree of difficulty -- who they beat and how they finished in the state picture.

The common denominator this season is quite noticeable. It seems the spring contingent of teams from Garden City and St. Anthony's are flat-out awesome.

Just look at the top three teams in the Big 10 this week and they're all from Garden City. In previous seasons, we highlighted the outstanding football team in the fall, then the girls indoor track team dominated during the winter and left its mark.

Another Garden City powerhouse was the girls swimming team, which went undefeated and won its 13th straight Nassau title.

A conversation with Nancy Kalafus, the athletic director for Garden City schools, revealed the secret to success in the Class A school. "Our student athletes are committed all year to their sports," Kalafus said. "It starts in our middle schools, where the athletes know about the tradition and want to be a part of it."

The programs within the school compete with each other for exposure. They also support and pull for each other, providing an excellent atmosphere throughout the community and in the hallways.

Topping the Big 10 this week is the Garden City girls lacrosse team, the six-time defending state Class B champion. The Trojans are 5-0, pushing their win streak to 53 games, and are ranked second in the national ESPN Rise poll.

The Garden City boys team doesn't want to be second fiddle to anyone. It is ranked No. 2 in the Big 10 -- at the moment.

In non-conference games, the Trojans have beaten Ward Melville and Syosset. Saturday, they beat the No. 1 team in the nation, Conestoga (Berwyn, Pa.), 12-11, in a tournament in Haverford, Pa.

Rounding out the Garden City trifecta is the girls track team, ranked No. 3 in the Big 10 behind Jen Gerland, one of the top steeplechase competitors in the nation. The team is undefeated in conference play and expects to vie for the state title.

So the Big 10 has a real Garden City flavor -- a testament to the public school's fine programs.

St. Anthony's, the finest of Catholic schools in the Northeast, is comparable to Garden City this spring.

The boys track team, the top-ranked track team in the MSG Varsity poll, is sixth in the Big 10. The Friars' Michael Chaney (16.4) and Cameron Black (16.7) went 1-2 in the 110 hurdles at the CHSAA Easter Classic last week. Teammate James Adegbute won the 200 meters in 22.5 seconds to lead St. Anthony's, which dominates in field events, and is becoming a bigger factor in the state running events.

The St. Anthony's girls lacrosse team is seventh in the Big 10. The Friars are 5-0 with wins over nationally-ranked Manhasset and Chatham (N.J.). And the boys lacrosse team is on the outside looking in -- after a one-goal loss to Chaminade.