Meet the six finalists for the 2022 Newsday Marcus A. Henry Award.
This award, in memory of former Newsday sports reporter Marcus A. Henry, is presented annually to a Long Island high school student who excels in the classroom and in athletics, and also displays great leadership. The winner will be announced next week at Newsday.com/hs and a profile of the recipient will be published in Newsday.
Karina Rios, Freeport
Pick any moment from Karina’s past school year and you might be amazed.
In one you might find the Freeport senior celebrating the Red Devils’ first girls lacrosse conference championship in a dozen years. In the next she may be working to polish her speech as school salutatorian. In another, she could be playing piano at Carnegie Hall. Or reading books to grade schoolers at Giblyn Elementary. Or counseling a group of Dodd middle schoolers on how to approach the coming critical years at Freeport High.
“She’s an example of what we strive for at Freeport,” athletic director Jonathan Bloom said. “She excels in all she does and always strives to give back.”
“I am one of the fortunate ones to have a great support system that backs me in all I pursue,” Rios, 17, said. “I give back because I’ve seen the impact that can have on a person’s life and I want to do that for others.”
Raised in a multigenerational household with a father and grandmother from El Salvador and a mother whose family has roots in the Dominican Republic, soccer may have been the sport of choice but never clicked with Rios. She tried lacrosse as a freshman and embraced it because “it tested my character and skill and intellect.” She was a team captain and scored six goals from her position on attack.
“She had a pair of game-winning goals but did a lot of things that don’t show up in the stats,” Freeport coach Anabel Lopez said. “She calls the plays, organizes the team on the field and is a big (factor) in how we control the ball.”
Rios has been a High Honor Roll student for four years, was an AP Scholar with Honors as a senior and has a weighted classroom average of 108.4. Rios has been recognized as an all-county musician (she also plays flute).
I Rios will attend Stony Brook University as she pursues the dream of becoming a pediatrician. “I love young kids – it’s why I’ve tried to be of service at my old elementary school,” she said. “It would be rewarding to make helping children my life’s work.”
— Roger Rubin
Jordan Spencer, St. Anthony's
He is a problem solver. Whether it's figuring out how to get the most out of his triple jump or how to deal with a community issue, the St. Anthony’s senior attacks it with vigor, knowledge, precision and passion.
When Spencer noticed that a park in his native Yaphank needed to better support the needs of veterans, he acted. Spencer, who will study mechanical engineering at Northeastern University next school year, designed and built handicap accessible picnic tables and benches at the park on the campus of the Sweezey-Avey House in Yaphank, which neighbors a center for veterans. It was Spencer’s Eagle Scout project.
“I would see them coming out of the veterans (center) in wheelchairs,” said Spencer. “There's not much handicap accessible seating. I wanted to give them a place to enjoy the park. One picnic table has one side with a bench on it and then the other side is opened up and has supports into the ground, so a wheelchair can come into the back and they can sit and enjoy their time.”
In track and field, Spencer proved to be one of the best triple jumpers in the state. He finished fourth in the event at the outdoor state championships earlier this month, going 43 feet, 5½ inches.
But jumping is only a small part of Spencer’s repertoire. Last summer, he completed a research project at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he created algorithms – or codes – that allow for the operation of a quantum computer. A quantum computer can solve complex problems that normal computers cannot.
“In order to take advantage of those benefits, you have to be able to use a computer and you do that through the algorithms that you program,” said Spencer, who graduated with a 104.44 weighted grade point average – seventh in his 595-student class.
Much of his academic success ultimately goes back to his desire to build. If he can build things, he can help people. And helping people is what makes Spencer go far.
“I think helping people is part of why I like engineering,” he said. “It gives me a way to do that in a way I like to do it.”
— Jordan Lauterbach
Hailey Guerrero, Mepham
Guerrero can recall a moment from her freshman year which changed the direction of her athletic career.
“We were up, the game was close late, a ball got by me in left field, we ended up losing, that kind of ruined me,” Guerrero said. “Junior year I came out strong, I did everything to help my team and made sure that would never happen again.”
The motivation to be the best led to consecutive All-County honors in softball after COVID cancelled her sophomore season. As a two-year captain, the Mepham senior helped her team claim consecutive Class A Long Island Championships.
Guerrero is also a force in basketball. She averaged more than 20 points per game, nearly eight points better than the prior year. She was Nassau Conference A-I Player of the Year.
“I give my all, not just for myself, for everyone who has put the time in, everyone who is rooting for me,” Guerrero said. “Even the people I play with, they’re counting on me, I have to do all I can.”
That desire for excellence in athletics is reciprocated in her academics. She holds a 3.7 GPA and is a member of the both the National Honor and the Spanish Honors Societies.
Involvement with youth is also something Guerrero puts her heart into. Despite a busy schedule, she helps younger softball players hone their skills with her club team, the Long Island Honeychucks.
“I love to be around kids, teaching them, I hope I can become a coach,” Guerrero said. “That is a dream of mine.”
She has also participated in the ACES program, spending the day with children with special needs, an opportunity she would “love to continue having.”
Guerrero, the youngest of four children, will play softball at Stony b
Brook University with a major in in the fall. She will major in education, a decision she made due to her desire to work with children.
“People have different things that make them happy, for me that’s helping kids,” Guerrero said. “It’s a great feeling, seeing you’ve helped them better understand things.”
— Chris Matias
Abigail Rolfe, Port Jefferson
Abigail Rolfe has built an impressive resume.
She became the first female to earn All-County recognition for baseball while helping Port Jefferson win its first Long Island championship since 2008. The senior also helped her basketball and soccer teams win county titles this past year.
But Rolfe wants to be known as a helper.
“I really just want to dedicate my whole life to helping and being kind to people,” Rolfe said. “I know I’ve been very fortunate to have things like a great family, a home and food. A lot of people don’t have those things, so I feel like it’s my duty to help others.”
Rolfe was vice president of the Varsity Club, which encourages athletes to participate in community service events. She’s helped organize volleyball tournaments to raise money for Special Olympics, and has volunteered at the League of Yes – an organization that helps the disabled experience playing baseball.
“Abby is a role model for her peers and for adults,” said baseball and girls basketball coach Jesse Rosen.
Rosen, who also serves as Port Jefferson’s community service advisor, said Rolfe stands out because she is active in the community without being told to do so.
“She does things that aren’t necessarily the most grand gestures or things that will get publicity,” Rosen said. “It’s the little things that you do because you want your neighbor, or your grandparent or teacher to feel better. That’s who Abby is.”
Rolfe also played a large role in organizing drive-through trick-or-treating at Port Jefferson’s elementary school. She was especially excited in 2020 because of the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.
“We knew that the kids would be upset that they couldn’t trick-or-treat,” Rolfe said. “Nothing was normal that year and we wanted them to feel some happiness on Halloween.”
With a 99.30 GPA, Rolfe was accepted into the nursing honors program at Ohio University. Why nursing? “I want to make sure other people get to live a happy life,” Rolfe said.
— Matt Lindsay
Jake DesLauriers, Eastport-South Manor
DesLauriers has won his share of awards as an Eastport-South Manor student-athlete.
Among the accolades: being named 2021 Newsday Player of the Year in volleyball, and also being named state tournament MVP after tallying 17 kills, 17 digs, three blocks and two assists in a sweep of Spencerport in the Division II championship.
Eastport, which finished the season a perfect 18-0, also won 52 consecutive sets the rest of the way after dropping the third in its season-opener against Sachem North.
But DesLauriers said the Marcus A. Henry Award exceeds that.
“[To win} would really mean a lot,” said DesLauriers, who also starred in baseball, and is committed to pitch at Hofstra next spring. “This award is an incredible one and is above the others that I’ve won or been nominated for; it’s much different. It shows a lot about you as a person, who you are and how you’re impacting the rest of the world and not just the people around you.”
With a weighted GPA of 104.75, DesLauriers ranked seventh in his graduating class and will major in finance at Hofstra. Alongside his stellar feats in both athletics and the classroom, he’s also made a significant impact within several communities over the years.
Serving for Eastport Bible Church, DesLauriers joins others who go into New York City to donate food and clothing to the homeless, and donate gifts to children in Africa during the holiday season. He’s also taken part in mission trips to help rebuild areas of the country affected by natural disasters, such as areas in South Carolina following recent flooding.
DesLauriers participates in his church’s youth initiative called Hangtime, working with younger children in after-school, weekend and summer programs. He’s also volunteered in fundraising events for the DezyStrong Foundation, which helps support cancer patients.
“This nomination is so well-deserved for Jake,” volleyball coach Bill Kropp said. “The way he helps kids and people who are less fortunate, he’s just an amazing kid and such a role model within the community.”
DesLauriers takes immense pride in the ability to help others: “Giving back to people and seeing the smiles on their faces, whether it’s here or in Africa, it’s just a great thing to see.”
— Mike Ruiz
Carlie Cutinella, Shoreham-Wading River
Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse coach Alex Fehmel has known Carlie Cutinella since the senior was young. Fehmel has been longtime friends with the Cutinella family and even trained Carlie in her backyard.
Fehmel has seen the highs and lows of the Cutinella family – including the ultimate heartbreak of losing a son. Thomas, Carlie’s older brother, died after sustaining a head injury in a high school football game in 2014 during his junior season.
The coach has witnessed up close how Cutinella has dedicated herself to not only being a standout athlete but an incredible human being – always with Thomas in mind.
“Similarly to her, Tom was a go-getter,” Fehmel said. “And I think her being young when everything occurred and looking up to her older brother when he was still here, she wanted to be like him and I think she’s done a phenomenal job of that and doing everything she can to be a good person and be like Tom was. And I think she’s definitely succeeding and going above and beyond what anybody thought she could do.”
Cutinella, who will play lacrosse at Wofford College, played varsity lacrosse and basketball since ninth grade. Her extracurricular activities includes the National Honor Society, Natural Helpers, Best Buddies and membership in student government.
Outside of school, Cutinella volunteers at her church and serves as a donor advocate and enrollment coordinator. She is a youth lacrosse coach and has spent over 100 hours as the Suffolk County representative for the NYSPHSAA SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee). After the loss of her brother, Cutinella has volunteered more than 160 hours throughout high school as a youth counselor at Camp Good Grief, a children’s bereavement camp in Westhampton Beach.
Cutinella also has a 100.2 GPA and has taken five AP classes.
“She just does everything and it’s awesome,” Fehmel said. “And I even admire her for that.”
Thomas’ memory lives through Cutinella as she tries to be the best student, athlete and person she can.
“I write his name on my wrist, so he’s my motivation always,” Cutinella said. “But playing on the turf and seeing his name, it strives me to always play for him and try to do everything for him because life is taken short for a lot of people so you just have to play for those who can’t anymore.”
— Owen O'Brien
2014: JOE PERCIVAL, St. Anthony's
2015: THOMAS CUTINELLA, Shoreham-Wading River
2016: LIVINGSTONE HARRIOTT JR., Central Islip
2017: KELSI KING, Baldwin
2018: ALEXANDREA HARRIOTT, Central Islip
2019: KENNETH WEI, Mount Sinai
2020: EMMA WARD, Babylon;
2021: FAVOUR OKODOGBE, St. John the Baptist