Goetz boys off to another strong start on hardwood

By WAYNE WITKOWSKI
Correspondent

Winning 20 games has been a trend for the Carl W. Goetz Middle School boys’ basketball team, which has done so in each of the last three seasons. This year’s team again is off and running in a 7-3 start.

But this team will need some help if it wants to repeat as Ocean County Intermediate Athletic League champions after suffering its second league loss of the season recently to unbeaten Toms River Intermediate North.

Goetz is alone in second place in the standings, but coach Steve Bado believes he has the personnel to stay in the hunt.

Goetz plays in the four-team championship round in the Santa Scamper at Mount Carmel School in Asbury Park. Goetz plays at 7 p.m. Jan. 2 against an opponent to be determined. The team went 2-1 in pool play, losing to championship-round qualifier St. James School when three of its starters were out, rolling past St. Joseph Grade School of Toms River and beating St. Aloysius School of Jackson, 30-23, in the tournament.

“We’re getting guys some game time experience,” Bado said. “In late January and February, we’ll make a run in the tournaments.”

The lineup is laden with eighth graders with big-game experience. Eighth grader Tom Cartnick also was an outstanding pitcher last summer for the Jackson Little League team that won the district and state championships and got to the Mid-Atlantic Region finals before losing for the farthest advance of any Jackson Little League team.

Also in the Goetz starting lineup is point guard Nick Colon, whose 15-point average leads the team in scoring, and Rony Bantang is a talented 6-foot-2 center who also played sweeper on the Goetz high-powered boys soccer team that nailed down a repeat unbeaten season and Ocean County Middle Schools Red Division title. Both are eighth graders.

Michael Cooper is another eighth-grade starter at guard, while the other starting spot is shared by 5-foot-10 eighth graders Zach Novak and Jake McKown.

“This is a very coachable bunch of guys,” said Bado, who is assisted by Joe Pienkowski, the boys’ lacrosse coach at Jackson Memorial High School. “They know what it takes to be successful.”

It’s a team that adapts to situations. It runs in transition when the opportunity presents itself, but it can patiently pull the ball back in a half-court set against teams like Lakewood Middle School that rely so much on speed.

“We’re not as big as last year. We have very good athletes,” Bado said, with the only other player with size being 6-foot-3 backup center James Vislocky, an eighth grader. “It’s not a typical Goetz team of a stud guard and big guys. It’s well balanced. Scoring comes from everywhere.”

The defense has been adequate, holding every opposing team under 40 points. The deep bench includes eighth graders Aaron Hutchsinson, who can play guard or forward, and guard Jake Rasinski, as well as seventh-grade guards Caden Brooks, Stanley Smith and Sean Slusak and forward Matthew Potok. Slusak also was on the school’s championship soccer team.

After the holiday tournament, Goetz returns to action Jan. 5 at Lacey Township Middle School. It is not at home again until Jan. 14, when it plays Central Middle School.

Howell’s goal on ice is a return to the Rock

By TIM MORRIS
Staff Writer

 Howell High School goalie Bobby Dovenero gloves a shot during the Rebels’ Dec. 22 game against Westfield High School at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall Township. Howell won the non-conference matchup, 4-1, to improve to 5-2 this year.  FRANK GALIPO Howell High School goalie Bobby Dovenero gloves a shot during the Rebels’ Dec. 22 game against Westfield High School at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall Township. Howell won the non-conference matchup, 4-1, to improve to 5-2 this year. FRANK GALIPO Having gotten a taste of the Prudential Center in Newark, also known as the Rock, the Howell High School ice hockey team wants more.

The Rebels made a stunning run to the NJSIAA Public A championship game last winter, getting to play at the Rock, home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. It was an experience that no one on that team will forget and, for the core coming back from that team, the goal is to get back and finish what it didn’t last year, according to head coach Bill Daley.

The Rebels want to prove they are not a one-and-done team.

They lost the finals in their historic season to Randolph High School, 2-1. By getting to the finals, Howell became the first Freehold Regional High School District ice hockey team to play for a state championship.

This year’s Rebels will differ from last year’s Shore Conference A North Division championship team, which finished 22-5. The team graduated much of its offense, including the program’s all-time leading scorer, Kyle Hallbauer.

“It’s going to be more of a defensive-type season,” Daley said.

The Rebels have a franchise goalie in junior Bobby Dovenero, who is in his third season between the pipes for Howell. He has proved to be a difference-maker and his play breeds confidence in the Rebels. He has a .911 save percentage thus far this season and has allowed fewer than two goals a game

“With Bobby in goal stopping everything, the team feels he can steal a win from any team on any given night,” Daley said.

Getting back to the Rock is a realist goal for the 2015- 16 Rebels because, despite the loss of some key offensive players, they have a lot of talent back.

“We are returning a good core group of boys that helped Howell get to the state finals last year,” Daley said. “With the return of captain Anthony Gallicchio, Zac Turcotte, Matt Goeller, Zac Mazik, Louie Kuka, Greg Bernhardt, Anthony Mauro, Mike Camaroto and Evan Ganz on offense and captain Ryan Damelio, captain Steven Ramos, newly converted [defenseman] Kyle McEvoy (played third line forward last year), Sean Mylod, Mat Nekrasz and Tyler Kunzmann and the return of captain goalie Bobby Dovenero and backup goalie Eric McMahon, we have a strong core that knows what it takes to get us back to the finals and this year make history.”

Howell has received help where it needed it most — scoring — from Christian Brothers Academy transfer Timmy Clifton. He is playing on the first line, which is centered by Gallicchio with Turcotte on the opposite wing.

In the team’s first seven games (5-2), Clifton has scored eight goals and assisted on five. Gallicchio has six goals and seven assists.

Other newcomers contributing are freshman defensemen Anthony Lopardo and junior Jason Musselman.

“We are a fast team with great team chemistry,” Daley said. “The boys have set their goal. We have a tough schedule this year with games against teams from every conference.”

SPORT SHORTS

Jared DiZenzo of Jackson Liberty High School’s wrestling team added his second early season tournament title to his record at 285 pounds as he and 170-pound champion Tyler Kalmowitz won their weight classes in the Walter Woods Tournament at Middletown High School South Dec. 26.

DiZenzo (4-0) won a 4-0 decision over Lou Ceras of Monroe Township High School. DiZenzo also won his weight class in the Ice Breaker Tournament at Old Bridge High School, where Jackson Liberty finished in second place. Jackson Liberty was fourth in the team standings at Walter Woods.

Kalmowitz also won a 4-0 decision over Brendan Rumsby of Middletown South. Kalmowitz was a runner-up in the Ice Breaker.

Jeremy Bollard dropped a 4-3 decision to Jarryd Ley of West Deptford High school at 152 pounds. Bollard also was runner-up in the Ice Breaker.

Nick Pellegrino at 113 pounds lost a 10- 1 decision to Lucas Revano of Camden Catholic High School.

He won his weight class at the Ice Breaker.

Central Jersey RedLegs will hold tryouts for the 11U 2016 spring and summer baseball season. Winter workouts start the first week of January. Indoor tournaments, league play and multiple travel tournaments will be played.

Home fields are located in Michael Tighe Park, Freehold Township.

Contact Coach Tom at tfigliolino@aol.com for details.

Merli Invitational

 MATT DENTON MATT DENTON Howell High School’s Natalie Coil competes in the 55-meter hurdles at the Merli Invitational Dec. 26 at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River. The Rebels’ standout finished second in her heat.

Jaguars, Lions are off to strong starts on the ice

By WAYNE WITKOWSKI
Correspondent

Jackson Memorial High School’s ice hockey team for the second straight year under coach Larry Clayton is off to a fast start at 3-1-1.

Jackson Liberty High School has also started out strong at 4-3-2.

JACKSON MEMORIAL

A year ago, Jackson Memorial started off 6-0 and went 8-1-2 after 11 games, going on to finish the season with 13 victories for the second straight year.

But Clayton is reserving judgment about his team’s chances for equal or greater success until he sees what happens in the upcoming weeks. He already has stoked the schedule with some formidable opponents, including Dec. 13 against Brick Township High School, which scored a 5-3 victory, and Dec. 2 against Southern Regional High School, which Jackson Memorial rallied back against for a 4-4 tie. Freshman forward Nick Swain scored three goals — two in a span of 21 seconds late in the third period — against Southern Regional.

“Statistically, it’s an OK start,” Clayton said. “We got some mixed results against two top teams we’ve played so far.”

The Jaguars had another top opponent Dec. 28 when they played Red Bank Catholic High School in the Winding River Holiday Tournament.

Red Bank Catholic pulled out a 3-2 victory in overtime.

With only four seniors, Clayton needs some younger players to mature quickly as the schedule toughens with a Jan. 8 game at defending NJSIAA Public B state champion Middletown High School North, which is loaded with returning players. There is also a rematch with Brick Township, a pair of games against Brick Memorial High School, a rematch with Southern and a Feb. 8 game against Jackson Liberty before a showdown with formidable Toms River High School South two days later.

“From January, it’s the meat of the season — the make or break time against some elite teams,” Clayton said. “I sought out better teams. Everybody on this team is making an effort. A lot of players are willing and able to contribute. No one is sitting back.”

Clayton said he needs the defense to perform even better, although it has done its share to contribute offensively. Senior Mike Termine, one of the four captains, leads the way with five goals and 10 assists centering a line with senior Chris Petrone and freshman Nick Swain, who Clayton says is a pleasant surprise with six goals and five assists.

The other line has also done its part with junior captains Joe Jablonski III and Kyle Lalley and sophomore Cam Satkowski, whose six points leads that trio. They have had their share of minutes against the top lines of opposing teams.

The defense has cashed in on scoring opportunities. It includes junior captain Trevor Cear, who has five goals and two assists, and senior Justin Mayer, who has four goals and six assists. Sophomores Connor Lowrey and Cody Jablonski (Joe’s younger brother) also contribute defensively.

Clayton said that junior Spencer Swain, Nick’s older brother, has been a strong force on defense, and James Termine, a freshman and younger brother of Mike, also has gotten minutes on defense.

“They have to play even better on the defensive side against those elite teams,” Clayton said. “If not, we’d need a lot of goals to beat those teams, which would be a tough task.”

They look to limit scoring opportunities against goalies Matt Pousson, a sophomore, and freshman Tristin DeVito.

“We need them to be even more consistent. There’s potential there,” Clayton said.

JACKSON LIBERTY

Jackson Liberty, meanwhile, has pleased second-year coach Kyle Weise despite losing a couple of games amid some key injuries and grooming new players after losing nine to graduation from last year’s team.

“It was a little bit of a rough start, but now we have everybody back healthy,” Weise said, as veteran goalkeeper Chris Stefanowicz kept things under control in December. “The defense has rallied around our goalkeeper. We’re not giving up a lot of opportunities.”

Jackson Liberty brought in a three-game win streak when it played North Jersey power Ridgewood High School Dec. 27 in the Montclair Holiday Tournament.

Jackson Liberty lost, 3-2, as Ridgewood rallied for two goals in the closing minutes, the winner coming with three minutes left.

Senior forward Leszrek Gronowski, a leading scorer the past two seasons, missed five games with a back injury, while topnotch senior defenseman Tyler Melnick (shoulder injury) and Nick Uliano (illness) were missed in an early season loss to Ocean Township High School, 4-1. The Liberty Lions also lost to North Jersey power Morristown High School, 5-0, but boasted solid 3-2 victories over Point Pleasant Borough High School and Central Regional High School, as well as 1-1 ties with Middletown High School South and Wall High School.

Stefanowicz stopped 34 shots by Point Pleasant Borough, and senior forward Joe Low, who recently got his 100th career point, scored the game-winner against Central Regional with 3:40 left. Low plays on the first line with junior Joe D’Andrea and freshman center Nick LaBianca. Melnick, Uliano, freshman Joe Granza and junior Matt Meyer also have played well at forward.

Low and D’Andrea each scored a goal and assisted the other against Ridgewood.

Mission Belief is NJ’s Horse of the Year

Trotting filly Mission Brief has been named the winner of the Secretary of Agriculture’s Trophy as New Jersey Standardbred of the Year for 2015.

Also selected New Jersey Sire Stakes Horse of the Year, Mission Brief will be honored Jan. 24 at the 59th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Luncheon at 1 p.m. at O’Connor’s Restaurant (formerly Charley’s Other Brother) in Eastampton.

Voted the nation’s 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in 2014, she also won the Dan Patch Award as 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in 2015.

The daughter of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena wrapped up her 3-year-old campaign with 10 wins and three seconds in 14 starts, banking more than $1 million toward a career total of $1,599,587 for the ownership of the Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The Ron Burke trainee was regularly driven by Yannick Gingras.

Undefeated in her New Jersey Sires Stakes competition, including the $100,000 final at the Meadowlands, she also won the $307,040 Elegantimage at Mohawk Raceway, the $185,000 Zweig at Vernon Downs, the $187,400 Matron at Dover Downs, the $144,000 Continental Victory at the Meadowlands and the $174,000 Money Maker at The Meadows.

She made a bid to best the boys in the $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, winning her elimination but finishing second to Pinkman in the $1 million final Aug. 8.

Bred by Steve H. Stewart, Black Creek Farm and Andrea Lea Racing Stables Inc., she sold for $150,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale.

At 2 years old, she won both the Merrie Annabelle and Breeders Crown, for nine wins in 13 starts and earnings just shy of $600,000.

Tickets for the luncheon cost $40 per person and may be purchased from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Markets & Development, Horse Industry, PO Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625.

For further information, email Lynn.Mathews@ag.state.nj.us or call 609-984-4389.

Collecting the pinfall

 SCOTT FRIEDMAN SCOTT FRIEDMAN Jackson Liberty High School’s Jerald Goodman won his 192-pound match against Christian Pritzlaff of Red Bank Catholic High School by a pin at the Ice Breaker Wrestling Tournament at Old Bridge High School Dec. 19. Goodman finished second in his weight class.

Jaguars’ boys, girls bowlers off to strong start to season

By WAYNE WITKOWSKI
Correspondent

Jackson Memorial High School’s girls’ bowling team, which won the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV title last March, and its boys team are off to solid starts in the young season.

Both will be put to the test again Jan. 2 when they compete in the annual Brick Tournament. Brick Township High School’ girls won the Tournament of Champions title, with Jackson Memorial finishing right behind, in March. Three players return from that Jackson Memorial team, led by junior Aimee Sherman, who was seventh in the Shore Conference last year with an average of 194.

“She’s very skilled and knows the game inside and out,” Jackson Memorial girls coach Brian Tart said. “She’s extremely polished.”

Also back in the lineup are seniors Alexa Asta, who has bowled consistently throughout the season, and Jessica Ormsby, a streaky hot bowler who can string strikes when she gets momentum. They have led the Jaguars to a hot streak of late as they come into the week 12-6.

Jackson Memorial was swept Dec. 21 in a showdown with leading contender Howell High School. Tart remained upbeat regarding the long season that goes into March.

“They’re all capable of bowling a 220, 230 game any night,” Tart said.

Sophomore Jenna Waldron and senior left-hander Jamilia Nobles have broken into the lineup. Freshman Erin Logan also has been in the mix.

“We need to keep improving and for the top three to carry us to the end of the season. That’s the hope,” Tart said.

As for the boys team, they reeled off a 15-3 start coming into the Dec. 21 showdown against top contender Howell. Jackson Memorial’s boys showed their skill when they blistered Ocean Lanes with a 3,772 triplicate in qualifiers — the second highest score behind Brick Memorial High School — in the Roll with the Indians Tournament. The Jaguars placed fifth overall. Freshman Brad Aumann lost a bid for a 300 game on his 11th ball and ended with a 286 in qualifiers. Senior Anthony Sranka at one stretch hit eight strikes in a row. Sranka and Aumann are in the No. 2 and No. 4 spots, respectively. Junior Steven Gold leads it off, senior Nick DeGaetano is the No. 3 bowler and junior Steve Nicholsen anchors the lineup.

DeGaetano bowled a 223 despite an injured finger when the boys dropped two of three games against Howell. Paul Allen, a junior, stepped into the lineup for Nicholsen and bowled well.

The boys team earlier in December finished fourth in the Bob James Winter Classic at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick behind Gold and Nicholsen and were as high as second place in the team standings in the latter stages.

Heath built legendary cross-country program at CBA

SPORTS VIEW

Tim Morris

The words “great” and “legend” get thrown out so often that they have almost lost their meaning.

In the case of retired Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) cross-country coach Tom Heath, those words hardly do him justice.

Heath, who stepped down as the Colts’ head coach after another championship year, leaves as one of the greatest coaches in any sport in New Jersey high school sports history. His legacy is unsurpassed. He is synonymous with cross-country in this state and, in the process, elevated the sport.

His list of accomplishments is staggering. There is the record 21 NJSIAA Meet of Champion (MOC) crowns, which includes the last six straight. There are the 27 group state titles, as well as team average course records all over New Jersey and New York (Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls). Maybe the most impressive achievement is winning the Nike Cross Nationals national championship in 2011.

Tom Heath’s Christian Brothers Academy cross-country teams won a record 21 NJSIAA Meet of Champions titles during his unparalleled career. Yet he ranks the national-record 343 dual-meet victories as the highlight of his career.LARRY LEVANTI/CBA

Tom Heath’s Christian Brothers Academy cross-country teams won a record 21 NJSIAA Meet of Champions titles during his unparalleled career. Yet he ranks the national-record 343 dual-meet victories as the highlight of his career.

LARRY LEVANTI/CBA However, when asked what stands out the most to him over his unprecedented career, his reply was the streak.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said.

The streak is CBA’s ongoing national record for consecutive dual-meet victories, which began in September 1974 and continued through the 2015 season. The mark now stands at 343.

The mark is a tribute to CBA’s unmatched depth. The Colts were so deep that Heath was able to run his B or even C team in most dual meets and rest his top runners. In that way, as Heath noted over the years, everyone contributed to the streak.

One of the Shore coaches linked to Heath’s streak is Colts Neck High School’s Jim Schlentz. In 1981, the streak was at 94 when Schlentz’s St. John Vianney High School team tied the Colts in a dual meet but lost on the sixth-runner tiebreaker.

It was the closest any team came to CBA during its unfathomable five-decade streak.

“I like running against CBA,” Schlentz said. “The only way to get better is to race against the best.”

The Cougars’ coach, who has had his fare share of success in the sport (his 2006 Colts Neck girls were MOC champions), spoke highly of what Heath and CBA have been able to accomplish.

“To be at the top all those years is remarkable,” Schlentz said.

The Cougars’ coach had a simple explanation as to why the Colts have stayed on top all this while.

“They outwork everybody,” Schlentz said.

Heath, a CBA graduate who was a sprinter on the track team, took over as head coach of the crosscountry team in the fall of 1971. “There was a tradition at CBA for crosscountry,” Heath said.

Heath, though, took the program to high levels.

Heath noted that not being a cross-country runner was, in a strange way, an advantage for him.

“I never ran distance, which is probably good,” he said. “I never knew pain.”

There was no secret formula behind CBA’s and Heath’s success. He pointed out that it starts with recognizing that kids are smart. He explained they have to work hard, put in their miles in training and stay injury free. Pretty simple stuff, but something it seems only the Colts could achieve year-in and year-out. I have watched the CBA program over the years as it went from a state power to national champion. I, like most, used to think, “Hey, anyone can coach CBA.” He gets the talent, but after observing Heath over the years and seeing how his runners were always ready for November and the biggest races of the season, I began to appreciate what he has done more. Getting your runners to come through when it matters in a single race takes more than talent. It takes coaching. In Heath’s case, it’s great coaching.

I remember the shocked faces of the Cherokee High School runners a few years ago when they were the heavy favorites to win the MOC only to have CBA take it from them as the Colts ran above their season-level. They did it this year, rebounding from a loss in the group championships the week before to snatch a 21st MOC title.

The 2012 MOC stands out as CBA’s signature win. With superstorm Sandy pushing the MOC back, it conflicted with the Nike Cross Northeast Regional. Heath couldn’t run his starters for fear that it would impact them at the regional three days later and jeopardize their chances of qualifying for the nationals. So he gambled on his “B” team, resting his top five runners.

“I told [the MOC runners] there was no downside,” Heath said. “If you do bad, I’ll take the blame. Just relax and be focused.”

The Colts all went out and ran their Holmdel Park personal bests for a stunning triumph that was a testament to CBA’s tradition.

When the Nike Cross Nationals started up to produce a national champion, did anyone doubt that Heath and the Colts would win it? They did in 2011, raising the profile for New Jersey cross-country. The Colts were also the runner-up in 2013. They’ve made the national championships the last six years.

It’s hard to think about it now, but it wasn’t always this way for Heath and his harriers. He pointed out that he lost the Monmouth County championships the first four times his teams competed in it. Clearing that hurdle opened the door for what would follow.

“As soon as you win something, you realize it’s not as hard to win as you thought,” he said. “It was the same thing with the states (MOC). I thought it was impossible. Then you win it, and it’s not as hard to do.”

How do you get everyone to race so well at the same time?

“You just have the kids relax and realize it’s just another race and it can be won,” Heath said.

Now that Heath has retired, he said that he won’t appear at any cross-country meets next year so as to not be seen as looking over the shoulder of the coach who has the impossible task of following him.

He may not be at Holmdel Park next year, but his shadow certainly will be.

SPORT SHORTS

Jackson Memorial High School senior right-hander Chris Hawryluk signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his baseball career at Monmouth University.

Hawryluk is heading into his third varsity season with the Jaguars on the diamond and has starred both on the mound as a pitcher and at the plate as a first baseman. This past season, he hit .444 with five doubles, a triple and three home runs while knocking in 21 runs and scoring 24. He also posted a .550 on-base percentage and .622 slugging percentage from the middle of the Jaguars’ order.

Central Jersey RedLegs will hold tryouts for the 11U 2016 spring and summer baseball season. Winter workouts start the first week of January. Indoor tournaments, league play and multiple travel tournaments will be played.

Home fields are located in Michael Tighe Park, Freehold Township.

Contact Coach Tom at tfigliolino@aol.com for details.

Items for the Sport Shorts column may be sent to tmorris@gmnews.com. Please send items at least two weeks prior to a registration deadline or tryout date.