Winter sports heat up after conclusion of the fall season


   By Connor Smith

   Now that fall sports have finally come to an end, it is time to refocus the attention of the community on winter sports. There are six separate sports, and eight different teams (swimming and basketball have separate teams for boys and girls). Some teams, such as ice hockey and swimming, have already made their mark on this season with big wins. The different teams have just enough star power to make this winter one to remember.

   Ice Hockey: The ice hockey team has only been a varsity team for nine years, but they have made their mark around the school. Fans are always drawn to hockey games through the good times and bad. The team finished 6-16-2 last season, and graduated leading point scorers Eric Hogan and Tyler Hardgrove. The team will be led by seniors Davey Leong and John Bruckman, who hope to bring production on offense this year. “The team has looked solid so far, and we are looking to build off of successful early season play,” said senior goalie Mike Illanovsky. The hockey team will be playing different teams this year than they have in previous years, which will hopefully give them a more successful record. Their division is composed of teams such as Oratory Prep, Governor Livingston, and Dayton to name a few. They are already off to a roaring start with a 6-4 victory against archrival Westfield.

Bottom Line: After early season wins against Westfield and Pennington Prep, the team will be able to contend for a county title if they can continue their strong play in the third period.

   Bowling: The bowling team this year will rely mainly on senior co-captains Jeremy Haas, Matthew Haas, and Sam Mahler to lead the team. They are coached by fourth year coach Ryan Goracy. Jeremy believes that this year is going to be a big success for the team. “We have a lot of young players that will be able to contribute to the team,” said Jeremy. These players include freshmen Grady Szuch and Mike Bonnell, and sophomore Spencer Vaughn. The team believes that they can fight for the top spot in the county. The bowling team plays their home matches at Jersey Lanes.

Bottom Line: The team will rely on their senior leadership to transform young talent into key players. If they can do this they will contend with Linden and Roselle Catholic for top team in the county.

   Wrestling: The wrestling team is always one of the most successful winter sports teams. They finished the season last year at 17-11. This included a heart stopping victory over Westfield, on a last second decision victory in the last match of the night, won by Matt Ridge. This year they will be led mainly by seniors Brian Lapham, Tommy Cunningham, Alex Mirabella, and JT Beirne. Lapham, recently committed to wrestle at Bucknell, was district champion at 145 pounds last year, but he desperately wants to turn that into a state championship this year.

Bottom Line: The team will rely on key players to lead the team to success. If wrestlers such as Lapham, Beirne, and Cunningham can produce, the team will be primed for a postseason run.


   Boys Basketball: The boys basketball team is coming off of a 10-15 season. They graduated a few seniors, but still have enough returning players to look forward to a successful 2014-2015 season. Key players for this season include seniors Leo Ramos, Emendo Thomas, and Chris Gibbons, as well as junior Aaron Lee. The biggest looming problem for the team is the lack of depth when it comes to their big men. They graduated Jack Poillon and Quayree Bull, and lost Rashan Gary to Paramus Catholic. The team’s top competition in the area is against Westfield, Cranford, and Union Catholic.

Bottom Line:  The boys basketball team will have little room for error in their new up-tempo style offense. They need to get off to a fast start against crosstown rival Union Catholic to be successful this year.


Girls Basketball: The girls basketball team is coming off of a 10-17 season. Similar to the boys team, they lost a few seniors, but have plenty of depth for a successful season this year. Standout center Thabitha Dwumfour averaged just under ten rebounds a game for the first time in her three year career. They will also rely on a new player, junior Myasia Taylor. She is a transfer from Parsippany who will make a big impact this year. With support from these two, and contributions from the rest of the team, the girls will look to top their 2013-2014 campaign.

Bottom Line: The girls basketball team is very young this year and will rely on Dwumfour and Taylor to keep this from being a transition year.

   Swimming: The boys and girls swim team are another one of the top winter sports teams in the school. They last won the state championship in 2011, and are always one of the better teams in Union county. The boys team finished last year’s campaign at 10-4 and the girls team was 8-3. The swim team will once again be coached by Judith Sharkey, even though she retired from teaching last year. The boys team will be led mainly by senior Alex Skoog. The boys team recently defeated the tenth ranked team in the state St. Peter’s Prep. The girls team will look for contributions from a variety of girls, especially junior Sarah Davis, as they look to build off of their second place performance in counties. The girls and boys have both started off the year at 3-0. The boys team is the only winter sports team at SPFHS to be ranked in the state top 20, as they most recently jumped to number 10 in the state.

Bottom Line: Off to fast starts, the swimming teams are the school’s best shot at state titles. Their matches against Westfield will be crucial as Westfield is among the best swimming programs in the state.

   Winter Track: The winter track team for boys and girls is a little different from the other winter teams. They do not have head to head meets. They will open up their season Dec. 20 in the Gardnier Holiday Relay at Drew University. Their county championship will take place on Jan. 24 at the Jersey City Armory. Some athletes to watch for the team are shuttle hurdlers Quincy Sanchez and Andrew Ciccarino, and sprinter Kobe White. The team will also be strong in distance events with runners such as Joe Dzuback, Colin Sullivan, and Annie Pierce in the 1600 meter run.

Bottom Line: This high school always produces star athletes that also excel as track stars, so the winter track team will have no problem sending athletes to postseason events.