TIM KELLY PHOTO | Melodee Riley and Mario Carrera of Riverhead received athlete of the year awards from Times/Review Newsgroup on Thursday.
Times/Review Newsgroup honored a virtually entire new slate of athletes when it presented its athlete of the year awards on Thursday. Miller Place senior Nick Parrella (soccer, basketball, lacrosse) was the only repeat winner among the 20 athletes recognized during an awards reception at the company’s Mattituck headquarters.
The other athletes of the year for the 2010-11 school year are: senior Olivia Schumann (soccer, winter track, track and field) and senior Rocco Pascale (soccer, winter track, baseball) of Bishop McGann-Mercy, junior Melodee Riley (field hockey, basketball, track and field) and senior Mario Carrera (football, wrestling, lacrosse) of Riverhead, junior Alexis Reed (field hockey, softball) and senior Dantré Langhorne (basketball) of Greenport, senior Stefanie Loverde (volleyball, basketball, lacrosse) and senior Yianni Rauseo (football, basketball, baseball) of Mattituck, senior Emily Metz (soccer, lacrosse) and junior Winston Wilcenski (golf, basketball) of Southold, senior Olivia Hallstein (soccer, winter track, track and field) and senior Joe Fuller (winter track, track and field) of Longwood, senior Marlaina Sherman (soccer, basketball, softball) of Miller Place, senior Janie Turek (cross-country, winter track, track and field) and senior Matt Poillon (soccer, football, lacrosse) of Mount Sinai, senior Caitlin Gargan (soccer, winter track, lacrosse) and senior Matt Ross (wrestling) of Rocky Point, junior Debi-Michelle Jantzen (field hockey) and senior Erik Anderson (volleyball, winter track, track and field) of Shoreham-Wading River.
This is the 26th year in which Times/Review Newsgroup has presented athlete of the year awards to the top female and male athletes in the schools in its coverage area.
With last Thursday’s awards, The Suffolk Times has made 142 selections, The Riverhead News-Review 106, and the North Shore Sun has added another 78 names to the honor roll.
The following are profiles of local athletes of the year:
Bishop McGann-Mercy High School
Running track isn’t easy, but Olivia Schumann makes it look that way. With her long legs and long stride, she quickly eats up ground.
“If you look in the dictionary, she would be the perfect example of what a track athlete looks like,” Bishop McGann-Mercy’s girls track and field coach, Tricia Nunez, said. “You watch her, and it looks so effortless. It’s so natural. She has such a beautiful gait.”
That gait has taken Schumann far. She recently ran for McGann-Mercy’s 4×400-meter relay team, which finished first among New York State Division II teams in a school record time of 3 minutes 57.43 seconds. She had also qualified to compete in the state meet in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, but unselfishly passed up that event in order to be fresh for the relay team.
Schumann showed tremendous range, running anything from the 100 meters to the 800.
“She excelled at everything,” Nunez said. “You can tell with Olivia, she enjoys what she’s doing. She loves it, and that’s what makes her a success.”
During the indoor season, Schumann ran the 200-meter leg for an all-state intersectional relay team that won in 10:28.63.
Among her personal-best performances indoors were 43.12 in the 300 meters and 4 feet 11 inches in the high jump.
“If you convince Olivia that she can do something, she is great,” said McGann-Mercy’s winter track coach, Gregg Cantwell.
Schumann was a co-captain and MVP of both the winter and spring track teams.
Her speed was also put to good use by the school’s soccer team.
“She was aggressive,” the soccer coach, Jacki Paton, said. “We used her speed and intensity and determination to mark up some of the other team’s faster players, and she did a phenomenal job with that, and there were other times when we put her up on the front line to create a little bit of a spark and put pressure on other team’s defenders.”
Schumann is the recipient of the Dellacave Award, which honors the top male and female senior athletes in every school in Suffolk County.
She will run for Dickinson College (Pa.).
Bishop McGann-Mercy High School
It’s hard to imagine that Rocco Pascale once went an entire Little League baseball season without a hit. He apparently wasn’t much of a hitter back then.
My, how times have changed.
The numbers Pascale put up this past season for Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Long Island Class C championship team are staggering: a .588 batting average, a .702 on-base percentage, seven home runs, 39 runs batted in, nine doubles, three triples.
“These are the numbers that he is putting up when guys know what he can do,” Monarchs Coach Ed Meier said. “He’s getting maybe one pitch to hit per at-bat. I think I would point to first base every time he was up if I was the other team.”
No wonder Pascale was selected as the League VIII most valuable player. The senior was also an all-county pick for the second year in a row and the team MVP.
Pascale was a catcher in addition to playing some third base and first base for the Monarchs. But he was especially comfortable in the batter’s box where he did much of his damage with an unorthodox swing and a small strike zone.
“He just flat out hits,” Meier said. “I’ve never seen somebody at the plate with as much confidence as Rocco, never. … He knew if he got his pitch, he could hit it.”
Pascale also played as a reserve goalkeeper and forward for the boys soccer team and was presented with the team’s Coach’s Award.
Mature for his age, with plenty of personality and intelligence (he was the class salutatorian), Pascale made an impression on the soccer coach, Louis Manoussos, who valued him for his leadership.
“I would classify him borderline genius, I really would,” said Manoussos.
In the winter, Pascale worked on his speed as a sprinter for the winter track team and received the Coach’s Award from that team as well. He ran the 55 meters in 7.46 seconds, the 300 in 45.54, and his best split time in the 4×200-meter relay was 26.6.
Pascale is a Dellacave Award winner. He will attend Manhattan College.
Matt Perry, the boys winter track coach, said, “He’s one of those kids you don’t wonder or hope, [you know] he’s going to be successful.”
Riverhead High School
So, how far can Melodee Riley jump?
It may be premature to answer that question just now. As far as the Riverhead junior has triple jumped and long jumped, Coach Maria Dounelis sees room for improvement.
“I think there’s still more to come,” Dounelis said. “What this kid could do is amazing.”
What Riley has achieved this spring hasn’t been too shabby. She returned home from the state track and field meet with four medals, three of which were gold. She won both federation (39 feet 3 inches) and Division I (39-9) titles in the triple jump and was first among public-school athletes in the long jump (18-9 3/4) as well as fifth in the federation in that event at 18-0.
In the state qualifying meet, Riley turned in one of the best triple jumps in the nation this season, 41-3 1/2, which is a school record. In the same meet the day before, she turned in a personal-record long jump of 19-1/4.
Riley also ran the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 1 minute 5.64 seconds, the 400 in 59.5, and clocked a split time of 56.8 in the 4×400 relay.
“What amazes me the most is she is so gifted and anything could be hers in this sport,” said Dounelis.
An all-county selection for both the long jump and the triple jump, Riley was named one of the top five outstanding athletes in Suffolk County in addition to being chosen as Riverhead’s team MVP.
Riley was the leading scorer for the field hockey team, registering 13 goals and two assists. She was recognized for her efforts with an all-county honorable mention citing and a second straight team MVP award.
“She’s a fierce competitor, a strong desire and will to win,” Coach Cheryl Walsh-Edwards said. “During practices she goes all out and pushes herself to get better every day.”
As an all-league forward, Riley provided the basketball team with 10 points and 12 rebounds per game. “This was her coming out party,” said Coach Dave Spinella.
The 5-foot-7 Riley handled jump balls for the Blue Waves and usually won the tip by outleaping taller opponents. In fact, the Blue Waves designed a play specifically for that. “We’d get two points every time,” said Spinella.
Riverhead’s athletic director, Bill Groth, said: “She’s just energetic with a very quiet determination, and that’s very significant because she’s funneling her energy in the right direction. And the bonus is that we get her back for another year.”
Riverhead High School
It wasn’t an easy season for the Riverhead High School boys lacrosse team, which struggled to a 2-14 record. “It would help to have a lot more Marios,” said Coach Vic Guadagnino.
Clones of Mario Carrera surely would have helped the Blue Waves.
A three-sport athlete, the senior is best known for his work on the lacrosse field. This past season he recorded 20 goals, eight assists and 190 ground balls. That was impressive enough, considering the extra attention opposing defenses paid to the middie, but perhaps the most impressive contribution he made to the team was in face-offs. He won 66 percent of the face-offs he took.
The Riverhead captain was an all-county player, team MVP and an academic all-American nominee.
“He had a real good year,” Guadagnino said. “I wish we had a little better of a season. That would have helped him some, but he played like a warrior.”
Carrera wrestled this past season after sitting out his junior season, yet still finished with a 27-5 record. Wrestling at 160 pounds, he placed second in the League IV tournament. He was a champion in the North Babylon Tournament. Riverhead Coach Wade “Rocky” Davey said Carrera had only one bad match the entire season, in the league final.
“He was really a very good all-around wrestler,” Davey said. “He could score from any position. He was good on the top and good on the bottom and very hard to take down. He truly is a good athlete. He’s pretty good at everything that he does.”
Carrera was a two-way starter for the football team as an H-back and free safety. He was an all-league selection.
“What is unique about Mario is he could play a lot of positions,” Coach Leif Shay said. “He was so versatile he could fill a lot of holes.”
Riverhead’s athletic director, Bill Groth, said, “He’s a leader on three separate varsity sports and to me that is a unique and exceptional accomplishment right there.”
Carrera has received a scholarship to play lacrosse for St. John’s University.
Shoreham-Wading River High School
It didn’t take long for Debi-Michelle Jantzen to establish herself as a top field hockey player in Suffolk County. She did that before starting high school.
As an eighth-grader, she was an honorable mention all-county player, helping lead Shoreham-Wading River to its first county championship since 2000. Each year since the Wildcats have maintained that spot atop the county.
And now Jantzen is not only among the top players in Suffolk County, but in the nation.
Jantzen became the third member of her family to be honored with an athlete of the year award from Times/Review Newsgroup. Her older brothers both received athlete of the year awards during their runs of state championships in wrestling.
For Debi-Michelle, her junior season was filled with myriad accomplishments. She was an all-American and first-team all-Long Island player. Her 42 points scored was the most of any player on Long Island.
In the Wildcats’ county championship win she tallied a hat trick in a 6-2 victory over Sayville.
On top of her success on the school team, she was also selected to play for United States Under-17 National Team. Her first tour came in March 2010 when she competed at the Youth Pan American Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay, to face teams from Bermuda, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. The United States finished with a bronze medal.
In April she traveled to Holland. The United States went 6-2, playing in the DOMO International Easter Tournament while facing some of the top competition from around the world.
Jantzen also went on to be selected for the New England Region Tournament team that is currently playing at the Junior National Championship. The team includes some players who are already in college.
Shoreham-Wading River High School
When Erik Anderson began his volleyball career at Shoreham-Wading River, his first two years on the varsity team were spent as a setter. By the time he moved full-time to an outside hitter — the position where kills are most easily obtained — it seemed unlikely he would have enough games to reach a career milestone of 500 kills.
But after a monster senior season during which he helped lead the Wildcats into a county championship match, Anderson’s hard work paid off. In the second to last match of the regular season, Anderson eclipsed the milestone mark of 500 kills. Only he didn’t know it.
Shoreham Coach Mary Mitchell waited for Senior Day at home for the following match to announce it, and Anderson was honored in front of his home fans with a commemorative ball.
Then Anderson did what he does best, powering balls into the hardwood as Shoreham swept all three games to finish 10-4 in League III.
The fall season was just the beginning for Anderson. In the winter and spring he competed on the track and field teams as one of the top high jumpers in the county.
He was the league champion in the high jump and also competed in the long jump and the 55-meter hurdles during the winter season. He again took first at the small school county championship in the high jump and posted a top mark on the season of 6 feet 4 1/2 inches. He was second in the state qualifier and advanced to the state championship, finishing seventh overall.
In the spring season he won first place in the Division III Championship and was a fourth-place finisher in the state qualifier.
Anderson will continue his track & field career next year at Monmouth University.
Joe Werkmeister contributed to this article.