Sebastian Regis of East Islip takes home the Hansen Award...

Sebastian Regis of East Islip takes home the Hansen Award at the Suffolk football awards dinner on Dec. 4 in Hauppauge. Credit: Dawn McCormick

It seems every time we think we’ll never see a hard-to-believe performance again, high school athletes continue to evolve and push their limits. They continue to grow on and off the field and turn in amazing efforts. Here’s the top 10 standout performances of 2023.


Sebastian Regis of East Islip was the biggest story in high school sports in 2023 — literally — all 6-1, 268 pounds of him.

Regis charged into the state wrestling championship at 285 pounds in February and avenged his only loss of the season with a pin of previously undefeated Stephan Monchery of Middletown in 3:40 to capture the title. The state title punctuated a 51-1 season with 35 pins, 31 coming in the first period.

Regis started the year as the top guy on the mat and finished the calendar year as Suffolk’s most outstanding football player, leading East Islip to the Long Island Class III championship with a 19-14 win over South Side at Hofstra University on Nov. 24.

The four-year, two-way starter helped punch East Islip’s ticket to the LIC with ferocious defense and punishing blocking for the offense. He became the first lineman in 38 years to win the 64th Carl A. Hansen Award presented to Suffolk’s best player. In an unprecedented feat, he also earned the Rob Burnett Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Bob Zellner Award as Suffolk’s top lineman.

“He’s the most dominating player on both sides of the ball that I’ve seen in more than 30 years of coaching," Westhampton coach Bryan Schaumloffel said. "You rarely see lineman that have such a tremendous impact on a game.”

He joins Adam Mariano of Comsewogue, who earned the Hansen Award in 1988 and won state wrestling championships in both 1988 and 1989, as the only ones to accomplish both.

Regis totaled 101 tackles (26 for a loss), 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and blocked five extra points.

“How often do we see a lineman being the focal point of the other teams’ game plan,” East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi said with a laugh. “They had no choice. Regis was one of a kind. He was as good on the mat as he was on the football field. And perhaps his most impressive attribute — likable by everyone.”


Newsday's high school sports section cover for Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.

Girls have wrestled against boys for two decades now. But none had ever won a boys league tournament — until 2023. Newfield seventh-grader Julianna Hernandez became the first girl in Long Island history to capture a boys league wrestling tournament in when she edged Northport junior Henry Barbagallo, 8-6, to win the 110-pound title in Suffolk League III. She overcame a 4-0 deficit to earn the win. One of 10 siblings, Hernandez became the first girl to qualify for the Suffolk Division I championship. She did not place but had already etched her name in Suffolk wrestling lore. Her final record was 27-14.


Few athletes can call themselves a state champion in two different sports. Count Muratore among the best of the best.

The St. Anthony’s junior earned the CHSAA state boys golf title at the James Baird Golf Course in Pleasant Valley on June 5. He won the tournament by seven strokes, shooting a 3-under par 68. The University of Michigan commit earned Newsday Golfer of the Year honors.

Dean Muratore of St. Anthony's poses for a portrait at Newsday's...

Dean Muratore of St. Anthony's poses for a portrait at Newsday's photo studio in Melville on March 22. Credit: James Escher

Muratore capped 2023 with a fall season to remember, leading the Friars to the state CHSAA Class AA state boys soccer crown. He scored the winning goal on a header off a cross from John Oualaalou in extra time as St. Anthony’s beat Chaminade, 1-0, for the Long Island title to qualify for the state tournament.

In the state Class AA final, St. Anthony’s and Regis were tied at 1 after two overtimes. Muratore scored one of the five goals in the 5-4 penalty shootout win for the state Class AA crown on Nov. 12 at St. John’s University.


When you want pitching dominance, you want Josh Knoth on the mound.

The 6-1 righthander’s senior season with Patchogue-Medford delivered a repeat, as he won the Yastrzemski Award as Suffolk’s best baseball player. He is just the third to win it twice.

And that wasn’t the biggest thing that happened to him this year. In July, the Milwaukee Brewers selected him with the 33rd overall pick in the Major League Amateur Draft.

Josh Knoth of Patchogue-Medford discussed the heart-pounding moment he was picked by the Milwaukee Brewers a day after going No. 33 overall in the 2023 MLB Draft. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.  Credit: Johnny Milano; Maddy Frascogna

“I am so excited,” Knoth said that night. “It’s my dream come true.”

In his final high school season, Knoth allowed just five hits (all singles). He went 7-0 with a 0.17 ERA across seven starts.

His high-90s fastball and sharp slider were hard to handle as he struck out 109 and walked 15 over 41 2/3 innings. The highlight was a 19-strikeout perfect game against Riverhead.


North Babylon bowler Nick Vuono warms up for his match...

North Babylon bowler Nick Vuono warms up for his match at Strike 10 Lanes in Deer Park on Dec. 7. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

North Babylon freshman Nick Vuono etched his name into the record books when he bowled an 867 three-game series in a 29-4 win over Lindenhurst on Dec. 9 at AMF Babylon Lanes.

Vuono rolled a 278 in the first game, a perfect 300 in Game 2 and a 289 in Game 3. He broke the state record for a three-game series, previously set at 856 by East Islip’s John Knieriemen in 2009. Vuono’s performance also tied the national record held by Charles Hunt (Illinois) and John Delp III (Pennsylvania).

North Babylon coach Sonny Casale described Vuono’s demeanor as “stone-cold, letting nothing faze him” during the historic effort.


Newsday's high school sports section cover for Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.

The undisputed story of the girls tennis season was Garden City’s stunning ascent from the ability-based second division to reaching the Nassau large school team championship match. And the centerpiece of their magical run was undisputedly Nina Wiese.

The senior didn’t just win all 18 of her matches in team play as the Trojans’ No. 1 singles player, she proved to be without equal in the high school ranks, first by capturing the Nassau singles title and then by earning five wins in three days to win the singles crown at the state championships in Schenectady.

Wiese was equal parts gritty tactician and speedy powerhouse as she didn’t drop a set in the state tourney, including an impressive 7-5, 6-4, semifinal win over defending state champion Victoria McEnroe of Bronxville to become the first Garden City state champion since 2008.


Newsday's high school sports section cover for Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.

It takes two to tango.

Two of Long Island’s greatest multi-sport athletes put on a dazzling scoring display on Nov. 4. When the exhausting pace of the scoring onslaught was over, Half Hollow Hills West had prevailed over Smithtown West, 70-68. Colts quarterback Joseph Filardi totaled a Long Island-record 10 touchdowns (seven passing and three rushing). He also set the LI record of 651 all-purpose yards in a single game when he completed 30 of 38 passes for 404 yards, rushed for 183 yards and returned a kick for 64 yards.

Melore, the Smithtown West wide receiver, scored a school-record seven touchdowns, including five through the air from quarterback Brayden Stahl. Melore also set a Long Island-record with 17 receptions in one game.


Jahniya McCreary of Half Hollow Hills races downfield after making...

Jahniya McCreary of Half Hollow Hills races downfield after making her first of two interceptions in the Suffolk girls flag football championship against Patchogue-Medford at Sachem East on May 25. Credit: James Escher

The fastest growing high school sport on Long Island had its share of star players. But the brightest one may have been Half Hollow Hills East senior running back Jahniya McCreary, who helped usher in the new sport with a spectacular season. Newsday’s inaugural Flag Football Player of the Year ran for four touchdowns and led Half Hollow Hills over Patchogue-Medford, 31-14, in the Suffolk championship.

As flag football grew in popularity and 41 schools put together teams, it was McCreary who helped elevate the sport with her do-it-all talent on offense and defense. She rushed for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 69 passes for 1,243 yards and 13 TDs. McCreary also had 150 flag pulls and 13 interceptions, including five returned for touchdowns.

Coach Michael Lupa called her a once-in-lifetime player.


Edward Liao of Commack competes in the singles finals of the...

Edward Liao of Commack competes in the singles finals of the 2023 NYSPHSAA Boys Tennis State Championship at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on June 4. Credit: Louis Lanzano

The Commack senior crafted a masterpiece in three parts during the high school boys tennis season. In the first, he didn’t drop a match at first singles, leading the Cougars to the Section XI large school team championship. In the second, he toppled the field to earn his third straight Suffolk individual singles crown, giving him three straight seasons without dropping a county match.

And in the third, the Yale commit exhibited that his mental toughness has equaled his huge serve and overpowering forehand as he captured the singles title at the state championships at the USTA National Tennis Center.

Liao dropped just 10 games to win his first three matches and reach the semifinals of the state tournament. He then won gritty three-set battles over formidable foes — Geneva’s Drew Fishback and Goshen's Braeden Gelletich — to become Commack’s first state singles champ.


Zariel Macchia of of Floyd wins the New York State...

Zariel Macchia of of Floyd wins the New York State Federation Cross Country Championship with a time of 17:59.4 at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls on Nov. 18. Credit: Errol Anderson

What happens when you don’t meet your own expectations? You supersede them in your next race. Zariel Macchia, the top distance runner on Long Island, wasn’t quite satisfied with her second-place finish at the Class A State Public Schools Athletic Association race.

Macchia, who planned to skip the state Federation race, decided to avenge her loss in the public schools race by winning the overall Federation title at Bowdoin Park on Nov. 18. After losing to Saratoga Springs’ Emily Bush on November 11 in the NYSPHSAA race, Macchia beat Bush by 24.9 seconds in the Federation championship. .

With Roger Rubin, Dean Zulkofske and Brian Heyman

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