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South girls look to regain control of A North Division Experienced squad off to perfect start With a 3-0 record thus far, the Middletown High School South girls tennis team is hoping to better last fall’s 16-5 mark. With a veteran lineup, the Eagles should contend for the Shore Conference’s Class A North crown along with last year’s champion, Marlboro. In addition, Middletown South also made its way to the semifinals in both the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III tourneys. “We’re very strong in singles and our doubles players are also solid,” said Coach Pat Ouellette, who has won four conference titles, four CJ Group III, one CJ Group IV and one overall Group IV championship in her 14 years at the helm. “We’d like to take back A North. That’s our first goal, but we’re looking forward to the tournaments.” South has easily handled Howell, Red Bank Catholic and Manalapan in the early going, as the Eagle entire lineup is playing well. At first singles, Jamie Fass is 2-1, with the lone defeat coming in the RBC match. Fass, who went 18-6 a year ago, has added more variety to her arsenal of shots, Ouellette said. The senior now uses a variety of spins, slices and drop shots, and a consistent serve to confound opponents. Sophomore Karen Shih, who combined with Lindsay Moran for a 19-2 overall record and the Monmouth County second doubles title at second doubles last autumn, is 3-0. Shih worked diligently in the off-season to upgrade her game and it has resulted in a strong all-around game, Ouellette noted. At third, Christine Powers is off to a 2-0 start. Last season the steady senior went 18-7 at second doubles. Powers’ hard-hitting style and ability to patiently work for her points wears opponents down. Although the Eagles singles players can be outstanding, South’s doubles combinations are equally talented. Senior Jen Corley, 15-7 a year ago at third singles, moves to the first duo where she is paired with Moran, now a sophomore. They are 3-0 in the early going. At second doubles, senior Lucy Hanus and junior Rachel Scherer are poised to better their 14-6-1 mark in 1999. Now in their third year together, Hanus and Scherer are 2-0. “We have our entire team back, but we also have a lot of depth,” Ouellette said. “It makes for some interesting practices as these girls really challenge our starters.” The issue for Ouellette, however, will be finding the playing time these youngsters need to gain match experience. Leading the reserves are versatile senior Erica Moran; junior Sara Whipple; sophomores Isabel Rivera, Ellen Tsay, Allison Vaccari, Kristyn Villani and Melissa Zampella; and freshman Leslie Potter. Villani and Zampella, who saw some time at doubles last season, are 1-0. “On the bright side we have a good nucleus now and for the future,” the coach said. “But I’m trying to get everyone some playing time.” The Eagles faced a busy week with matches against Rumson-Fair Haven and at Raritan on Monday and Tuesday, and a home match this afternoon against Middletown North at Normandy Park. On Friday, South visits Freehold Township. Staff Writer By Warren Rappleyea
Sport Shorts The MYAA Mid-Monmouth boys travel basketball teams will hold tryouts on Sept. 8 and 10 at Thorne Middle School, Middletown. On both nights, the Junior Division will run 6-7:30 p.m. and the Senior Division will run 7:30-9 p.m. The Junior Division (fifth and sixth grade) must be under 12 as of Aug. 1, 2003. Senior Division (seventh and eighth grade) must be under 14 as of Aug. 1, 2003. Proof of age and residency (driver’s license not accepted) required for all registrants. Please note that because of the size of Middletown, there are two Mid-Monmouth programs (MYAA and TYBA). There are certain residency and school boundaries, which determine where you are eligible for tryouts. This information will be detailed at the MYAA tryouts. Call (732) 747-2410 for more information. The MYAA Mid-Monmouth girls travel basketball teams will hold tryouts on Sept. 9 and 12 at Thorne Middle School. On both nights, the Junior Division will run 6-7:30 p.m. and the Senior Division will run 7:30-9 p.m. The Junior Division (fifth and sixth grade) must be under 12 as of Aug. 1, 2003. Senior Division (seventh and eighth grade) must be under 14 as of Aug. 1, 2003. Proof of age and residency (driver’s license not accepted) required for all registrants. Please note that because of the size of Middletown, there are two Mid-Monmouth programs (MYAA and TYBA). There are certain residency and school boundaries, which determine where you are eligible for tryouts. This information will be detailed at the MYAA tryouts. Call (732) 747-2410 for more information. The Hazlet Hawks, an U13 boys’ travel soccer team, is looking for two dedicated players for the upcoming fall season. The team plays in the Premier flight of the Mid-New Jersey League, and receives professional training from an A licensed coach. Boys born between Aug. 1, 1990, and July 31, 1991, are eligible; residency is not required. For more information, call (732) 495-4790.
Agree that dangers of abuse can BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer Steroids have become a part of our everyday landscape.You just have to pick up a newspaper or watch television and you’ll know how entrenched they are in the sports world. If it’s not baseball players sitting before a congressional hearing, it’s news about football players. With steroids becoming so high profile, coaches and administrators from area high schools are doing their best to stay one step ahead. Education has been the preventative response, with coaches getting the word out about the dangerous side effects of steroids, and stressing the immorality of using them to get an artificial edge. And it doesn’t hurt to remind the young athletes that steroids, without a prescription, are against the law. Dominick Lepore, head football coach at Freehold Township, pointed out that the subject of steroids is something he doesn’t limit to the football season. “I talk about it all year round,” he said. “We have off season meetings with the kids. We had a clinic after school with a spokesman from the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) who spoke about steroids.” The DEA spokesman also had a meeting with all of the physical education teachers in the district. Howell’s veteran head coach, Corey Davies, believes that being out front and talking about steroids is working. “The awareness is very great now; the young people are very aware of the dangers of steroids and the reasons not to use them,” he said. “By having it out front we can keep it [steroid use] where it doesn’t happen.” By not brushing steroids under the rug and openly talking about them, parents are, according to Lepore, more aware of what harm they can do to athletes and the symptoms (like acne and mood changes) to look for. “I meet with the football parents once a month and steroids are becoming more serious,” he said. “Parents’ eyes are a lot more open.” One way for coaches to keep track of their athletes is through the up-to-date weight rooms in the schools. That helps keep athletes away from gyms, which are thought to be breeding grounds for steroid use. “We want them under our guidance all the time,” Lepore said. “We like to know what they are doing.” Steve Antonucci is the head football coach at Middletown South, one of the premier football programs in the state, and he, too, believes that it is the coach’s responsibility to monitor his players. “Unless I’m naive to it, I think we’re blessed at our school because the kids are pretty aware of the dangers,” he said. “We monitor our kids, and if we were to find someone we suspected, we’d try to help him immediately. Any time you can educate kids about anything, it’s a worthwhile cause.” Woodbridge High School football coach, Brian Russo, agrees, stating that coaches need to stress the dangers of steroid abuse frequently. “The more the better,” he said. “There’s never enough being done to educate the kids.” Old Bridge High School wrestling coach Ken Scott, one of the most successful and respected high school wrestling coaches in the state, echoes the belief that educating his athletes about the dangers of substance abuse in general is a priority. “It has to be emphasized,” he said. “The kids hear horror stories, but it could never be pushed enough. Kids need to learn of the detriments that come later on. But kids live for today, and that can be part of the problem. “I’d like to see more light shed on the matter. It needs more exposure.” Bigger, stronger, faster, however, remains the goal of every scholastic athlete, whether he/she is a star, or just trying to make the varsity. Hard work is a given to become the best athlete you can. But all the attention put on getting better has made Manalapan head football coach Ed Gurrieri think twice about what he tells his players. He wants to make sure the emphasis of weight lifting isn’t a green light to do whatever it takes. “We have to outwork our competition,” he said. “After I tell them how important it is to get bigger, stronger and faster, I don’t want them to take it the wrong way. I’m always conscious about telling them to do it the right way.” Gurrieri, who played college football at Wagner, said he uses the analogy of a house to make his point. A house built on a strong foundation will last, while one built on shortcuts, like steroids, is only temporary and will collapse. “Education is always the way to go about it,” he said. Gurrieri is very aware of the temptations — from just trying to make the team to earning a college scholarship — that could drive a young high school athlete to turn to steroids. That’s why he constantly monitors his Braves. “We test [weight lifting] every six weeks,” he added. “If there is a major jump [in performance], a red flag would go up. An athlete can improve by 10 pounds every six months. If he goes up 40 or 50 pounds and puts on 15 pounds of muscle, it’s a red flag.” Gurrieri added that if he thought there was a widespread problem with steroids, he would recommend drug testing. Right now, in the Freehold District as well as in many other local school districts, if an athlete or any student is suspected of using steroids, they have to take a drug test. Once thought the domain of football on the professional sports scene in America, steroids have raised an ugly face in baseball, as evidenced by the BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative) case and recent congressional hearings. That hasn’t been lost on baseball coaches like Frank Gualtieri, who has been the head coach at Freehold Township the last 10 years, “Every year we discuss drug and alcohol abuse and one of the drugs is steroids,” he said. “This year we brought in our substance abuse counselor to talk about the pitfalls of steroids. We emphasized it more than in the past.” Gualtieri knows the subject, having educated himself. “I’ve attended lectures on steroids,” he said. “I know the dangers and how they work.” The face of the steroid user may be changing. Dr. Victor Naumov, a chiropractor and human performance specialist, who is one of the founding members of The National Coalition for the Advancement of Drug-Free Athletics Inc., said that the number of girls using steroids is on the rise. Jeannette Bruno, the head softball coach at Manalapan, said it might be time for an educational program just for girls. It will take a team effort on the part of parents and coaches to continue the steroid battle, according to Gualtieri. “We need leadership from coaches and parents,” he said. “We have to let kids know how steroids can mess your life up.” Even with that, Gualtieri knows that steroids are out there, and even if not widespread, some are still taking them, “To think they [users] are not there is foolish,” he said. Continued vigilance is necessary, coaches agree, because the pressures on young athletes and their drive to get better won’t go away. There will always be a temptation to do whatever it takes regardless of the long-term consequences. “Every kid will look for the edge; it’s the nature of the beast,” said Lepore. “There’s a lot of pressure out there.” — Doug McKenzie contributed to this story Steroids in our schools
The Middletown United Red Devils U10 travel soccer team is looking for a few competitive players to round out its roster. The team competes throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties. Players must be born between Aug. 1, 1995, and July 31, 1996. Call (732) 671-4159, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. The Hazlet Youth Athletic League (HYAL) will be holding basketball registrations for its in-town recreation program for boys ages 7-18 and girls ages 7-15, as well as traveling teams (Mid-Monmouth boys and girls, 11U and 13U, and Monmouth Youth, boys 8, 9, 10 and 12, and girls 9U). Birthday cutoff is Aug. 31. Registration will take place at Hazlet Middle School (Union Avenue) on Sept. 21 and 28 from 7-9 p.m., and on Oct. 8 from 9-11 a.m. at the HYAL Clubhouse, Hazlet Avenue. Proof of age and residency (driver’s license not accepted) is required for all new registrants in the program. Registration fees at $70 for one child, $100 for two and $130 for three or more. A $50 refundable work deposit is required. Call (732) 264-3060, ext. 5, for more information. The Hazlet Youth Athletic League (HYAL) will be holding wrestling registrations for its in-town recreation program for children in grades one through eight. Registration will take place at Hazlet Middle School (Union Avenue) on Sept. 21 and 28 from 7-9 p.m., and on Oct. 8 from 9-11 a.m. at the HYAL Clubhouse of Hazlet Avenue. Proof of age and residency (driver’s license not accepted) is required for all new registrants in the program. Registration fees at $75 for one child, $125 for two and $150 for three or more. A $100 refundable work deposit is required. Call (732) 264-3060, ext. 5, for more information. The Garden State Knights 14U team is looking for experienced travel players to fill out roster spots. Starting positions are open as the team looks to continue its proud tradition of winning baseball and preparing players for high school competition. Contact Nick for a tryout appointment at (732) 547-1650 or www.gsknights.com The Lincroft Wildcats basketball tryouts for the upcoming MYAA season will be held Sept. 24 at St. Leo the Great in Lincroft. Times are: U8 (third grade) born after 7/31/96 at 3 p.m.; U9 (fourth grade) born after 7/31/95 at 4:30 p.m.; U10 (fifth grade) born after 7/31/94 at 5:30 p.m. and U12 (seventh grade) born after 7/31/92 at 6:30 p.m. Please contact Don Burns at (732) 513-5485 or e-mail email@example.com for additional information The Middletown Lacrosse Club needs coaches and volunteers for this season’s boys and girls lacrosse program. Contact Dave at (732) 957-9828 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mario at (848) 218-0532.
On the heels of its outstanding finish last season that led to the Handchen Cup championship, the Middletown High School South ice hockey team is off to a 4-0-1 start this winter. FILE PHOTOS Above: Returning goalie Chris Marsillo for the Middletown South Eagles saves a goal during last year’s Handchen Cup Championship game at the Red Bank Armory. Left: Tyler Ralph moves the puck down the ice. With much of the same lineup back, the Eagles are coming off a 4-3 success against Red Bank Catholic on Sunday at the Gold Coast Arena in Wall. The Eagles have also posted victories against Toms River North, St. John Vianney and Monsignor Donovan. The tie was a hard-fought 1-1 affair against cross-town rival Middletown North in a game played at the Prudential Center in Newark. A year ago the Eagles struggled early before catching fire in the Handchen Cup playoffs, which is for Shore Conference A Division teams. Seeded eighth, Middletown South knocked off top-seeded RBC in the opening round despite losing decisively to the Caseys twice in the regular season. Next up, Middletown South defeated St. John Vianney and then scored a 4-3 victory Brick Memorial in the title game, thanks to a late goal by Jason Zimmel. “I don’t think we played badly at the beginning of last season; it was just that our younger guys were still learning our system, and we play a complicated system,” Eagles coach Stan Gutt said. “Once they got it down, things turned around, and they’re getting better all the time.” Middletown South employs a 1-2-2 style that requires discipline and the ability to counter-attack aggressively when the opportunity presents itself. Knowing the system, combined with good overall team speed, depth and quality goaltending, has been a recipe for success for the Eagles. Chris Marsillo has been the backbone of the team in goal. The junior is not only a top-notch netminder, he has also developed into a team leader as evidenced by his role as an alternate captain. “Chris really stepped up for us last year and he continues to excel,” Gutt said. “Having a goalkeeper who can erase mistakes with big saves is a big advantage.” The defense in front of Marsillo is steady with Terence Doyle and sophomores Jimmy Burns and Matt Littenberg. In addition to his defensive duties, Burns also contributes to the offense, picking up seven goals and six assists last season. Up front Middletown South has good firepower with sophomoreMatt Johnson, who netted 18 goals and posted eight assists last winter, along with junior Justin Horowitz, 10 goals, nine assists; and Jimmy Valan, who scored nine times and assisted on nine others. Sophomores Tyler Ralph (five goals) and Chris Connor (two goals, four assists) are expected to increase their numbers. Gutt is also expecting big things from Zimmel, a junior, who has been playing with increased confidence in the early going. Two transfers from CBA, sophomores Zach England and Brett Johnson, should add to the offense “This is still a young team — we have 13 sophomores — but basically it’s the same team as last year,” the coach said. “We only lost four seniors and most of the guys who are back played important roles, so they know what’s expected, and we’re expecting more from them.” Gutt said his primary goals are to qualify for the state playoffs and to contend for the Shore Conference A North title. The Eagles are off and running toward both of those goals, though the coach cautioned that it’s still early in the season. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he said. The Eagles return to action on Sunday at home against Summit at Gold Coast Arena and will “visit” CBA the following afternoon, also at the Gold Coast Arena. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer
BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent The final month of the regular season, starting with a loss to Middletown High School North and ending with a loss to Lakewood, proved to be a tough stretch for the Holmdel High School boys basketball team.In that stretch, Holmdel lost its hold on first place in Class A Central and struggled to regain the momentum it earned with a 13-2 start.But by the time the state tournament rolled around, the Hornets were back at full throttle.Holmdel (18-9) played its best basketball when it mattered most, advancing to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title game against Ewing on March 6. Although the Hornets fell in that sectional championship, the probability of getting to that point in the season was fading only weeks ago.“We really played some good teams. Winning the number of games we did in a competitive schedule” was an accomplishment, head coach Sean Devaney said.Given that the team moved through the first three rounds of the state tournament with relative ease, the Hornets expected the outcome against Ewing to be different. “There was some frustration and disappointment that we were right there,” Devaney said about the 48-42 loss to Ewing, which recently won the State Group II championship and advanced to the Tournament of Champions. Holmdel started strong in the sectional final and took a 12-10 lead going into the second quarter. Senior Christian Vikse “surprised” Ewing with three three-pointers in the first quarter and Holmdel “gained confidence” off his performance, Devaney said. That confidence carried the Hornets into halftime with a 25-17 lead.Ewing (26-6) turned the game around in the second half, outscoring Holmdel, 20-9, in the third quarter.Vikse finished with 12 points to lead the Hornets, while senior center Dan Baumlin added 10. Junior point guard Robbie Cantelli scored nine points.“They really stepped it up defensively in the second half. I was really disappointed in our play, but they probably caused that,” said Devaney, who added that Ewing used a “gimmicky defense” in the first half but switched to man-to-man.Cantelli will be an integral part of next season’s team, especially considering the impending loss of seniors Vikse, Baumlin, Kyle Nodes, Tim McDonnell, Sean O’Neill, Matt Nasra and Anthony Simuro.Holmdel is determined to make another postseason run next season — just with some new faces.“We would like to have some level of consistency,” Devaney said, “but we are losing an awful lot.”
Above: Matawan’s Connor Clifton dons the uniform of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, who drafted Clifton in the fifth round (133rd overall) during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft on June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Clifton, a defenseman, played for Christian Brothers Academy in high school and was most recently a member of the United States National Team Development Program. Below: Clifton is handed a Coyotes jersey by general manager Don Maloney (l) during the draft. Being selected in a professional sports draft will always amount to a big day for an athlete, but to hear his name called in his home state in front of family and friends makes for an unforgettable moment. That was the case for Matawan’s Connor Clifton, who was chosen by the Phoenix Coyotes with the 12th pick of the fifth round (133rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark on June 30.“It was in the middle of my home state, and it was nice that it worked out that way, [being in] Newark,” the 18- year-old defenseman said. GETTY IMAGES Clifton, who ranked 88th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, waited a few hours for his selection. But that did not diminish the thrill of hearing his name called by the Coyotes.“When [my name] was finally called, we were really excited and happy,” Clifton said of sharing the experience with loved ones. “It was definitely a memorable moment.”Clifton comes off an impressive season in the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) as a member of the U-18 team. Over 66 games, he posted eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points, along with 114 penalty minutes. He also played for the United States at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Championship, where his lone goal in the tournament came in a gold-medal game loss to Canada.It was when Clifton first started with the national program in Ann Arbor, Mich., that he started to believe a career in the NHL was a possibility.“The first time I thought it could actually happen was at the beginning of this year when I joined the national team, and I figured it was one of my goals when I decided to go there,” he said.Previously, Clifton suited up for the New Jersey Hitmen of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, and he played high school hockey at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in Lincroft during his freshman and sophomore seasons.“It was a tremendous accomplishment for Connor,” CBA head coach Ryan Bogan said of Clifton being drafted. “We are so proud of his accomplishments on the ice.”Clifton, who considers himself a “physical, two-way defenseman” because he likes to take the body on defense and jump into the play offensively, acknowledged that he played a leadership role during his time at CBA.“I considered myself a leader on that team,” he said. “[The other] kids looked up to me.”“Connor was a leader as a young player at CBA because of his strength on the ice and his ability to take the game over with a big hit or a big goal as a defenseman,” Bogan said. “He is probably one of the most fearless players I have ever seen play the game. I can vividly remember Connor using his fearlessness and character in defense of his fellow teammates.”Clifton is the third member of the CBA program to be drafted into the NHL. Joakim Ryan was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round (198th overall) in 2012, while James van Riemsdyk was taken by the Philadelphia Flyers with the second overall pick in 2007.“Anytime you have the caliber of player like Connor come to CBA, the influence on future players is invaluable,” Bogan said.“I believe this influence was passed on to many Colts playing today and will be passed on to others in the future, as well.”Like many successful players, Clifton got his start in hockey at a young age. “I started at age 3,” he said. “My father taught me and my brothers how to skate. [Being from Matawan], hockey was not a big thing at all. It was just big within my family. It was really just us.“Since I started, it definitely became more popular. It seems like it’s still growing.”While he may now have a rooting interest in the Coyotes, his team of choice growing up was the New York Rangers, and he looked up to Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.Clifton’s next hockey venture will be at the collegiate level with Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Conn.) Quinnipiac comes off a banner season in which the Bobcats advanced to the program’s first Frozen Four appearance in the NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Tournament. They fell in the finals to Yale University, 4-0.Clifton was also selected in the fourth round (75th overall) of the 2013 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft by the Peterborough Petes, but Quinnipiac’s coaches, facilities and the ability to play on the same team with his older brother Tim made the institution a more alluring option for him.“I want to get in there and play my game, keep working on every aspect of my game and help the team out,” Clifton said.Clifton did get a taste of the NHL experience from July 8-12 when he took part in the Coyotes’ prospect development camp. With a chance to get acquainted to the organization and display his skills in front of management, coaches and fans, Clifton joined 35 other Coyotes prospects for drills and instruction both on and off the ice.“I’ve learned that all the coaches want to do is help you and develop your game,” he said.With each step in that development, Clifton grows nearer to putting the Coyotes jersey on for real game action one day in the NHL. By NEIL BORENSTEIN Staff Writer
MATT DENTON Middletown High School North’s Tyler Downing won the boys pole vault at the Merli Invitational held at the John Bennett Indoor Athletic Complex in Toms River on Dec. 26. He scaled 10-6 to win the competition.
By Sonia OxleyManchester City started their Premier League campaign in scintillating fashion on Monday with a stylish 4-0 win at home to 10-man Newcastle United as Manuel Pellegrini made a dream start to management in England.Last season’s runners-up took just six minutes to open the scoring with David Silva heading in after Steven Taylor failed to deal with Edin Dzeko’s shot across the goal.They doubled their lead on 22 minutes when a low shot from Sergio Aguero, set up by a neat flick from Dzeko, went in off the far post.City’s job was made even easier just before the stroke of halftime when defender Taylor was sent off after swinging an arm at Aguero and they made the man advantage count five minutes after the break with Yaya Toure’s sizzling free kick.The hosts made it four on 75 minutes when substitute Samir Nasri slotted home and could have had many more if it had not been for some excellent saves by Newcastle keeper Tim Krul as they sent a clear message of intent to their title rivals.
By Nemanja BjedovMARCOS Baghdatis was beaten by second-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1, 7-5 in the second round of the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday afternoon.Wawrinka broke Baghdatis’ serve twice to claim the first set in just 22 minutes. However, the Cypriot improved in the second set and there were no break point opportunities until the ninth service game when the Swiss had a chance to take a 5-4 lead, but 28-year-old Baghdatis managed to hold serve after winning three straight points after some quality serving.Unfortunately for the Cypriot, he dropped his serve two games later to allow Wawrinka to go 6-5 up, and the world number 10 made no mistake as he served out the match in just over an hour.Wawrinka, who also beat Baghdatis in the third round of the US Open at the beginning of the month, will now take on the winner of the match between Russian Dmitry Tursunov and Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, while Baghdatis travels to Tokyo where he will participate at the Japan Open Tennis Championships.This will be the fourth participation in Tokyo for the World No.48 Cypriot who reached the semi-finals of the event last season where he lost to local favorite Kei Nishikori.