Gregg Sarra's memories of top high school athletes
Gregg SarraGregg Sarra
Gregg Sarra is Newsday's high school sports columnist and writer.
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Osik was a soccer goalkeeper, one of the leading scorers in basketball and a state champion in baseball in 1987. Osik, a shortstop/pitcher, earned the Yastrzemski Award as Suffolk's top baseball player, leading Shoreham to its lone state crown.
Mariano was a man amongst boys in every sport he played in 1989. He was a county track champion in the sprint events, a two-time wrestling state title-holder and the Hansen Award recipient as Suffolk's top football player. His career wrestling record was 168-9.
In 1994, a kid from the East End, Ross Gload of East Hampton, was making a name for himself smashing home runs at what would be a record pace. Gload hit 20 home runs as a senior, including three in the Suffolk Class B final against Kings Park at St. Joseph's College. The Yastzremski Award winner totaled a Long Island-record 41 homers and went on to a 10-year major-league career.
And in 1999, we had three of the most prolific high school players of all time. Comsewogue's Kevin Cassese became the first three-time All-Long Island football selection and led the Warriors to the LIC Class III crown over Bethpage. The two-time high school lacrosse All-American went on to play the sport at Duke.
North Babylon halfback Barry Baker became known as the "Touchdown Maker" after setting the record for touchdowns in a career with 77. He led the Bulldogs to a 40-3 record and three LIC titles. He was also an All-Long Island basketball player.
Nicole Kaczmarski completed the terrific triumvirate as a five-time All Long Island player, three-time Gatorade player of the year and the Charles H. Clark Award winner as the best basketball player in Suffolk. She went on to UCLA.
In 2000, Jesse Jantzen of Shoreham-Wading River punctuated the greatest high school wrestling career with his sixth county crown and fourth state title. He had a 221-3 career record and a 163-bout winning streak, never losing after the eighth grade. The three-time All-American went on to Harvard and won an NCAA title.
North Babylon's Jason Gwaltney from 2001-04 rewrote all the football record books. He scored 135 touchdowns, and had 7,800 yards as the Bulldogs won two LIC titles. He was Suffolk's only two-time Hansen Award winner, and a three-time All-Long Island selection.
Commack's Samantha Prahalis was one of the most exciting girls basketball players to grace Long Island's courts from 2004-08. The three-time All-Long Island selection had a terrific handle, could penetrate any defense and set the Suffolk mark for career points with 2,372. The two-time Long Island player of the Year earned the nickname Sammy and went on to become an All-American at Ohio State.
Floyd halfback Brock Jackolski scored an LIC-record 10 touchdowns in three appearances as he led the Colonials to a 33-0 record with three straight LIC crowns. The Hansen Award winner and defensive back award winner had blazing speed and great moves that left crowds in awe. He was an All-American at Stony Brook University.
Patchogue-Medford's Marcus Stroman was a two-sport star, earning All-Long Island honors in basketball and baseball. He was only the third junior to win the Yastrzemski Award in Suffolk history. The two-time All-Long Island selection, who averaged 11 strikeouts per game, was also a two-time Gold Glove shortstop, and a high school All-American. He was drafted by the Washington Nationals but went on to play at Duke, where he leads the country in strikeouts this year and is expected to be drafted in the first round of the major-league draft.