The season is already underway, which means the Wildcats are well on their way in attempting to repeat the success of recent spring campaigns.
On the heels of a fifth consecutive NYSAIS State title and Rye Country Day’s second FAA boys’ golf championship in school history, the Wildcats return in 2011 with their murderer’s row of Brian Starker, Colin McDade, James Kennedy, and Harrison Baker intact.
“It’s a really strong foursome,” said head coach Steve Konopka. “Baker is so consistent and reliable – he never makes silly mistakes. Kennedy is very talented and extremely long, and I think he’s going to have a big year for us. Starker and McDade have worked extremely hard on their games and it shows. Both have commitments to play in college next year, and if there are two better high school golfers in our area, I’d be amazed.”
Jonathan Kligman, Tyler McCaine, and Anders Mikkeson join the fantastic four up top. Newcomer Theo Humphrey, a freshman, is also expected to make an impact this year and over the course of the next four years.
“This team pushes hard,” added Konopka. “Every day in practice we have matches and it’s extremely competitive. My problem sometimes is getting them off the practice tee. They love to work on their games.”
Much like their male counterparts, the RCDS girls’ golf team is a force to be reckoned with. The Wildcats captured a second-straight FAA championship in 2010, and have won 21 of their last 23 matches going back to the start of the 2009 season.
Larke Nimocks won the FAA individual tournament as a freshman last year, and was one of many young talents. Skye McCaine and Catie Cole earned FAA All-League Honorable Mention awards as sophomores.
Although Bob TeCarr, who coached the Wildcats to both championships, is no longer leading the way, new coach Marie Vlcek inherits a roster loaded with talent. Alexa Greene, Lauren Schumaker, Madison Friedman, Nina Stoupnitzky, Samantha Coughlin, Taryn Clary, and Taylor Katzovitz all made an impact in 2010.
It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Wildcats. Rye Country Day overcame record-breaking, 95-plus-degree temperatures in the State final last May at Randall’s Island to capture the NYSAIS title. They expect the heat to be turned up even higher this season as opposing schools hone in on the champs.
The Wildcats graduated 12 players from the 18-2 squad, but head coach Matt Rosolen and his assistants feel RCDS has the pieces to contend for both the NYSAIS and FAA titles. Senior captains Jake Heller and Marco Prouve will lead the way.
“Jake is a four-year starter and has to anchor an inexperienced defense, which includes freshman goalie Michael Farber,” said Rosolen. “Marco is a terrific athlete who plays an extremely important role in transition. He’s our main offensive threat from the midfield position.”
Rosolen also expects Tommy Garry, Andrew Farber, and Hunter Massad to step up this season.
There are two critical things to know about the Wildcats: They’re young, and they’re fast. Head coach Georgette Summers hopes those two ingredients, along with the leadership of captains Devon Kraus and Allie Farber – the lone seniors on the roster – are enough to improve on last season’s 5-11 record.
“Devon and Allie have so far handled everything beautifully,” said Summers. “They are both talented players and will play a critical role on the field. Allie is one of our most versatile players.”
Juniors Skye Aresty and Meghan McDonough round out the list of stars.
Head coach Ted Lawrence set conservative goals for his Wildcats this year, following an impressive three-year run highlighted by a 2008 FAA championship and the record-breaking career of pitcher Zack Tax, who graduated last June.
Senior Billy Mills, as well as juniors Jeff Grasso and Alex Gendelman, are the captains. Lawrence wants the trio, along with senior starters Ian Tecklin and Jake Misisco, to lead the team by example both on and off the field.
“We can improve in all phases of the game,” said Lawrence. “We have been inconsistent thus far, so I cannot say what our strength is yet. Overall, however, we have the best team speed I’ve seen in my time here.”
The Wildcats finished 15-5 last season, but lost by one run in the first rounds of both the FAA and NYSAIS tournament.
Opponents will have to work hard to beat Rye Country Day in 2011, as the Wildcats take pride in both execution of fundamentals and defense. The team is only two years removed from an appearance in the NYSAIS championship game, and new head coach Margaret Scarcella said she plans to keep the bar raised high.
Scarcella, who replaced Wendy Haft – the current RCDS Athletic Director – at the softball helm, played four years at Hackley before returning there as an assistant coach. She held the role for 10 years, and has also coached her daughters in their recreation leagues for the past 14 years.
Senior captains Kim McKoy and Chris Cunningham will lead the 14-player team, which should improve on last year’s 6-8 finish. Fellow seniors Cody Nilsen, Pauline Chiquet, and Jennifer Williamson join the captains in the core group.
A shortage of senior players generally translates into a lack of a success for a high school sports team. The Wildcats obviously did not receive that memo last season. Led by junior captains Paul Fanto and Brenton Howland, Rye Country Day overachieved and finished 8-6.
Fanto and Howland are back, and head coach Gil Castagna is optimistic his team is ready to take the next step.
“We’re looking to push ahead of where we were last year,” said the coach. “I don’t want to zap myself, but the last team coming off a season with no seniors finished 15-1. I’m hoping for a lot.”
Juniors Sebastien Lafontant and Tyler Tananbaum will figure into singles competition with the captains, and seniors David Rosenzweig and Andrew Wong, along with juniors Matthew Weissman and Zach Needle, should balance out doubles play.
The Wildcats are focused on fleet racing this season, as opposed to team competition, and head coach John Bainton and assistant coach Clemmie Everett believe the extra emphasis will land the team in Nationals.
After a successful week of practice in Miami, Rye Country Day opened the season with a first place finish at the League qualifier regatta in Stony Brook. Andrew Mollerus and Thomas Dunn combined to finish third in Division A, while Matthew Mollerus, Michael Ince, and Georgia Kleiner won Division B by seven points. The team victory qualified RCDS to compete in the Mid-Atlantic fleet race championship at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, April 9-10. If they place third or better, they will qualify for May’s Nationals in Austin. The Wildcats placed seventh at the Mid-Atlantic Fleet last year.
Bainton is also excited about the increase in female participants. There were no girls on the roster in 2009, and just one last year. This year the roster features at least four.