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When not kicking for the football team, Nolan

When not kicking for the football team, Nolan Gelman, right, helped Half Hollow Hills West's soccer team to a 17-3 record. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Pick a word. Extraordinary. Spectacular. Dominant. Perfection. Champion. Any of them apply to the four high school athletic programs that have risen above the pack this fall.

There are more than 1,000 varsity teams that compete on Long Island each fall striving to be the best at what they do. But only a precious few reach the pinnacle.

Four programs stood above the rest throughout the season. Half Hollow Hills West, Garden City, Ward Melville and St. Anthony’s dominated in most venues and raised multiple championship banners.

WARD MELVILLE

Ward Melville is feeling very good about its performance this fall. Erin Blaney, the district athletic director, was ecstatic about her teams and individual performances throughout the season.

The Patriots’ Quinn Raseman won the state cross country championship and placed 19th out of 40 runners in the Foot Locker National Championship race.

The girls field hockey team went 18-1 and won the Long Island Class A title behind Georgia Holland, Newsday’s player of the year.

The girls volleyball team claimed Suffolk’s League I and went on to win the Long Island Class AA championship with an undefeated record.

The girls swim team finished 9-0 and won the Suffolk title. Alison LaRocca floored the competition with a stunning performance to claim the county gymnastics crown in floor exercise. The boys golf team was perfect with a 12-0 record to win League I. And the girls cross country team won the League II title and placed second at the Suffolk championships behind state qualifiers Caroline O’Hea and Mary Kate Anselmini.

GARDEN CITY

Garden City dominated in the pool and on the field. The girls swim team won its 11th consecutive county championship and sent nine representatives to the state tournament, the most of any team in the competition.

The football team went undefeated at 12-0 and allowed only 28 points on the way to the Long Island Class II championship, where it beat North Babylon, 9-6. It earned the Rutgers Cup and three players, Conor Horl, Stephen Jahelka and Billy Sweeny, joined coach Tom Flatley on Newsday’s All-Long Island team.

The Trojans’ field hockey team won its 16th consecutive Nassau title and the Long Island Class B crown with a 16-2 record. Coach Diane Chapman reached the 300-win milestone and earned the Nassau coach of the year award. Eleni Andromidas was the Nassau player of the year and joined Mariah Pewarski on the Newsday All-Long Island team.

The boys soccer team was undefeated during the regular season for the first time in 20 years and coach Carlo Mazarese earned the Nassau coach of the year award. The boys golf team was 11-1 and co-conference champions. And in girls tennis, Jackie Raynor finished second in the county tournament.

“All of our fall varsity teams earned a team academic average of over 90 percent,” said Nancy Kalafus, the district’s athletic director. “And we’re very proud that we’ve won four New York State School of Distinction Awards, given to schools who have all of their varsity teams in a school year earn a 90 percent or better academic average.”

So they’re very smart and talented in Garden City.

ST. ANTHONY'S

St. Anthony’s re-established itself as the program to beat in the Catholic High School Football League. After a one-year absence, the Friars won the school’s eighth CHSFL championship in the past nine years with a 28-21 win over Holy Trinity. Princeton-bound quarterback Tom Schreiber directed an unstoppable offense that averaged 40 points. Schreiber and defensive lineman Rob Welsh were All-Long Island selections.

The Friars’ boys soccer team was not to be outdone. It posted a 16-4-1 Catholic League record and won the league championship with a 1-0 win over Chaminade. It was ranked 28th nationally by ESPN. The boys cross-country team won the Catholic state meet  and finished 10th at the state Federation meet.

And the girls teams at St. Anthony’s fared just as well. The volleyball team won the Catholic state title. The girls won the soccer regular-season league crown. The swimming team was 8-1 and finished second in league competition and the girls cross-country team was second in league and fourth in the state.

“We had a very nice showing in all of our fall sports,” said Donal Buckley, the school’s athletic director.

HALF HOLLOW HILLS WEST

“We had an absolutely fabulous fall season and it was a testament to our coaching staff and the talent of our student-athletes,” said Joe Pennacchio, athletic director for the Half Hollow Hills Central School District. “Our successes spanned both genders and all sports.”

The Colts enjoyed an undefeated football season for the first time in school history. Senior quarterback JeVahn Cruz accounted for 48 touchdowns and led the Colts to a 12-0 record and the Long Island Class III title with a 42-32 win over Lawrence. Cruz was the co-winner of the coveted Hansen Award given to Suffolk’s best player.

“Winning the football championship just punctuated an already great season for the school,” Pennacchio said. “The camaraderie was unbelievable in school. Our teams encouraged each other. And we encourage three-sport athletes and discourage specialization. And we believe that interaction benefits all of our teams.”

One of those multisport players was Nolan Gelman. He doubled as the placekicker for the football team and led the boys soccer team to a 17-3 record, the Suffolk League IV title, and a berth in the Class AA title game against Brentwood. Gelman, a high-scoring forward, was named the Large Schools player of the year by the soccer coaches association.

The girls’ tennis team finished 18-3 and won the Suffolk crown. And the district’s boys volleyball team was perfect with a 20-0 record and earned the Suffolk title for the second straight year. The boys cross country team won the League IV crown with a 6-0 mark and was the Class A county runner-up. The boys golf team earned a share of the League III title and the girls swim team won the League I championship and finished third in the county tournament.

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