Rye Teams Look to Paint Spring Months Garnet and Black

Dirt, concrete, water, turf, rubber, and grass. They’re all surfaces that Rye’s spring teams play on, and they should all be settings for even more Garnet greatness this season.

Baseball

Last year ended painfully as the ninth-seeded Garnets fell to No. 8 Harrison in the Class A Sectionals. The memory of that loss is seared in the minds of Rye’s 11 returning players.

Baseball captains Forrest Henderson and Kevin Turco

The 2011 edition will be a veteran team, comprised of 10 seniors and nine juniors, many of them up from the JV squad. The senior co-captains are Kevin Turco and Forrest Henderson. Head coach Michael Bruno said the team goals for this year are nothing less than a League and Section championship.

Here’s how he sized up his captains for us: “Kevin Turco is a gamer who leads by example. A tough competitor who leaves everything on the field. Carries himself with a maturity greater then his years.

“Forrest Henderson is a student of the game; knows what it takes to win ball games. A great role model for younger players. He’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure victory.”

Garnets to watch this year: Henderson and Turco at the corners (Henderson will also pitch); senior Matt Fedorchak at short; junior Jake Meyerson at catcher; and junior Willis Robbins and senior Ryan Crawford, both starters.

Bruno summed up the situation. “The team played great defense last year until our playoff game against Harrison. There are no excuses this year. We have a veteran ball club with a playoff game under our belts. If we are in that situation again, the players understand they have to perform. If they do that, we have a great shot at achieving our goals as a team.”

The Garnets travel to Sleepy Hollow for Opening Day April 4.

Girls’ Lacrosse

In Lisa Zweigenhaft’s first season as head coach, she led the young Garnets to a thrilling 16-15 overtime victory in the first round of the Section playoffs. The 11th-seeded team fought valiantly in the quarterfinals, but fell 8-6 to second-seeded Nyack.

Laurel Kennedy and Rye should be contenders this season.

“We’re going into the season a lot more confident now that we know what we’re capable of,” said Zweigenhaft. “Last year was about learning. Now, I’m more familiar with my players and the girls are more comfortable with me. We realize we have the talent, and we’re going to work harder to make it further.”

The hungry Garnets return a strong core, including captains Maddy Chabot, Brittany McCormack, Natalie Moore, and Laurel Kennedy. Zweigenhaft was impressed with how the foursome stepped up last year, and knows they’re hungry for more. The coach also praised Emma Brinkman and Tori Virtue, and warned opposing offenses of the goaltending prowess of Maddie Kinker.

“This team has already been a great group to coach,” said Zweigenhaft. “We know when it’s time to be serious, when to have fun, and when to get our game faces on.”

The Garnets host Sleepy Hollow in their season-opener March 31.

Track and Field

For head coach Jim Yedowitz, improvement and consistency are what he hopes members of his boys’ team take away from the sport.

“We stress that good things happen when you put in the time and effort,” said Yedowitz. “We tell them their time will come. Little boys grow into strong fast men if they stay with the program.”

Following a successful winter season, this year’s squad is comprised of both young talent and seasoned veterans. Yedowitz will rely heavily on Aaron Mathias, Ben Lee, Taylor Love, Tom Mayo-Smith, and Tyler Breckenridge for heavy scoring in competitive meets.  The coach also predicts a breakout season for Scott Hanley in the throwing events, and Chris McGinnis in the distance events.

While Yedowitz says that his coaching has certainly played a role in his team’s success over the past years, he explains he has seen a great deal of talent – especially among the junior class.

“Talent goes in cycles,” said Yedowitz. “Some years you do the best with what you have – that’s really when you do your job as a coach.  Other years, talented athletes make coaches look good.”

In his 34th year as head varsity coach, Yedowitz’s wants to develop as many quality athletes as possible, give them an enthusiasm for the sport, break a few school records, <and> have fun accomplishing it all.

On the girls’ side, John McGee also looks forward to coaching a strong roster of many returning athletes. Senior Lindsey Clark is expected to perform well in the 100 hurdles as well as long and triple jump.

“The distance program is solid and we should have a strong spring with Ellie Friedmann, Ali Mackay, Nagomi Ogura, Celia Palmer, and Lizzy Bennett,” said McGee.

Stephanie Alimena will lead the team in high jump and pole vault. Elan Spitz returns in the throwing events. For McGee, consistency will define the season’s outcome.

“Hopefully, with some of the girls a year older and stronger, we will be able to run at some of the bigger meets this season.”

Both teams kick off the season at home on March 30 against Byram Hills.

Boys’ Tennis

Moving up from League B to the A’s last year, the Garnets still managed to achieve a respectable record of 5-6. The doubles team comprised of Keishi Goto and Grant DeBease made it all the way to the Section 1 Championship.

Boys’ tennis captains Buck Reynolds, Keishi Goto, and Alfredo Holguin

Six players graduated, but the Garnetters are looking forward to another successful season under head coach Susan Dickson, new assistant coach Mark Parsons, and senior captains Goto, Buck Reynolds, and Alfredo Holquin.

Dickson made a point of saying the team is fortunate to have someone of Parsons’ caliber supporting them. He is the head pro at Manursing Island Club, and recently won the National Paddle Championships.

At No. 1 singles, Keishi Goto is, “spirited, invested, and quick,” said his coach. “He covers the court well and is a strong player in both singles and doubles. Keishi is willing to give tips to younger players to help them improve their strokes or their game, and is a natural teacher.”

Reynolds, at No. 2, was a captain of the RHS soccer team last fall, and is another seasoned player. Last year he accumulated the most wins for the team, and Dickson raved about him as well. “Buck is dedicated, willing to work hard to achieve goals, and has the tenacity and patience to play and win long three-set matches. He leads by example and is an asset to our group.”

This is Holguin’s second season on the varsity team, though he had to leave last year for mid-season knee surgery. Dickson and the team are clearly thrilled to have him back and healthy. “Alfredo connects well with teammates, and brings joy and heart to our team. He will be both a positive addition to our doubles lineup and one who helps set the tenor of the group.”

In addition to the captains, returning juniors Harrison Janart and Phil Dorn will provide leadership. Four returning talented sophomores will help round out the team. They are Sectional vet DeBease, Will Friedman, Harry Bonay, and Brandon LaBella. DeBease will fill his usual third singles spot to start the season. The others will round out the doubles lineup.

The Garnets head for the courts at Rye Rec March 28 against Byram Hills.

Crew

In their first official season of varsity competition, the Garnets are at the forefront of the ever-growing sport. Coached by Stan Nelson and Jen Palermo, the co-ed team boasts a 40-student lineup of disciplined athletes who begin their day with a 6 a.m. practice at Greenwich Rowing Club.

Nelson explained that the sport is certainly not for the faint of heart, and typically attracts a different kind of athlete. “These kids are very committed to the sport and have great teamwork. It’s a different sport with events that span all age groups. They learn to organize their time, and they learn how to discipline themselves.”

Nelson expects Benno Stein, Bryan Cronin, Chris Reifsnyder, Luke Simonson, and Ben Lee to highlight the boys’ side, and Dakota Kashchy and Maggie Khelenbeck to lead the girls. The team’s regatta schedule is comprised of skulling (two oars) and sweeping (one oar) races in both male and female categories, as well as a co-ed division.

The launch date is April 9 at the Greenwich Invitational.

Softball

Seeded 16th in the 2010 Section playoffs, Rye’s season came to an end in the first round against 17th-seeded Nyack. The Garnets graduated six of the team’s stars last June, and will field a team comprised of five seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores, and two freshman.

Ninamarie Grau and Jillian Chittenden are the softball captains

Senior captains Jillian Chittenden and Ninamarie Grau enter their fourth years with varsity. Head coach Alex Tejera believes his team will return to the Section playoffs. “I believe that if we work hard the entire season we will meet our goals,” he added.

Junior pitcher Erika Becker, who was a force on the mound in the offseason, worked with a pitching coach in the offseason and could have a dominant season in store.

Opening Day is March 31 at home against Ossining.

Boys’ Golf

The Garnets finished just 6-9 last year, but head coach Pat Romano noted the subpar record had much to do with the team’s green roster.

“Our young players from last season should be a lot more relaxed this year in matches,” said Romano. “They all played competitive golf over the summer, are a year older, and have more experience – these things should translate into success.”

Senior Connor Usry and junior Andrew Gladstone are the captains. Romano said the sky is the limit for Gladstone. He was Rye’s No. 1 golfer as a sophomore, and has a legitimate shot of excelling at Sectionals and advancing to the State tournament.

Thomas Henderson, Jabril Whiteside, and Henry Bailey, a trio Romano refers to as the “meat and potatoes” of Rye’s lineup, will assist the captains. Henderson made it to the finals of the Apawamis Junior Club Championship in the summer, and Bailey qualified for the Sectionals last year. Whiteside earned “Player of the Year” honors for his age group at the MET PGA Summer Tournament. Joey Viger and Don Tice are two players Romano also believes will step up this season.

Girls’ Golf

In only their third year of existence, the Garnets team finished the 2010 season 10-3 and captured the League championship, sent four players to Sectionals, and one player to States. This year, repeat captains Julia Pasqualini and Nancy Kelleher, both seniors, say they are excited to get going. Their goals, shared by head coach Rich Savage, are to defend the League championship, and send six players to Sectionals so the Garnets can qualify as a team. Savage also hopes to have more players qualify for the State tourney.

Julia Pasqualini and Nancy Kelleher will lead Rye on the links.

While the team is comprised of 18 players, only six can compete in each match. The top four returning are the captains, junior Jen Lee, and freshman Alexis Hiol, the sole player selected to play at States last year. Other players who will contend are Caroline Whelan, Kelly McRedmond, Tess Munsie, Emily Liddy, and Lea Sporken.

Boys’ Lacrosse

Rye has been to six consecutive Section finals – winning the first four and dropping the last two – but could face an uphill climb in returning to the championship game this season. The Garnets, 12-8 last year, jumped from Class C to B in the offseason.

Christian Bonaventura is part of a talented senior class.

The team does, however, return an especially strong senior class, including Matt McReddie, Christian Bonaventura, Jack O’Callaghan, Michael Collins, Max Bonsall, Briggs Barton, Brian Pickup, and Garrett Chapman. Coached by brothers Brian and Scott Dooley, the seniors, along with talented juniors like Greg Stern, will be ready for the ramped up competition.

Notable contests include tilts with Harrison, John Jay-Cross River, Rye Country Day, and a regular season finale against rival Putnam Valley. The season begins March 30 at White Plains.

Jim Byrne, Melanie Cane, and Andrew Dapolite contributed to this article.

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