By Jessica Yatvitskiy ’21
The Pingry wrestling season began on November 20th. The team consists of 28 members and has “more kids on the team than ever,” said captain Aidan Dillon (VI). “We’ll have almost all the weight-classes filled, which helps immensely with our dual-meet schedule,” said Head Coach
George Sullivan, who has coached Pingry wrestling since 2014. He is aided by Coaches Joseph Forte, Reid Prichett, and William Lagarde. Mr. Sullivan said he chose to coach Pingry wrestling because “[he has] a unique opportunity to build a great program.”
The wrestling team’s first scrimmage was on December 6 against the Peddie School, and its first true meet is on December 16. “The team’s goal for this season is to win 15 matches and send at least one wrestler to states,” Mr. George Sullivan said.
This year’s captain is Aidan Dillon, who has had 13 years of wrestling experience. Aidan said,
“I’m super optimistic about this season. We should have the best team that Pingry has had in my time here. We’ll have the best chance we’ve ever had to win a conference championship.” The wrestling team had a great season last winter. “The team sent our first wrestler in a decade to the New Jersey state wrestling tournament, Frankie Dillon ‘17. We had four regional qualifiers: Aidan Dillon, Frankie Dillon, Tommy Tarantino ‘17, and Brandon Spellman (V),” Coach Sullivan said.
Mr. Sullivan expresses high hopes for this season: “With new freshmen joining the strong team, the future is bright. We have a talented and hard-working team that has been improving for several years, and I can’t wait to see them perform.”
By Caroline Wargo (IV)
The boys’ squash team had a strong season last year, boasting a 15-3 record and ranking 10th at Nationals. Led by Sam Scherl ’17 and Daniel Hutt ’17, the team had four members that competed in U.S. Squash’s Junior National Championships (Scherl and Hutt included).
With Mrs. Tina Rix-Stout now coaching the girls’ varsity team (Mr. Ramsay Vehslage had previously coached both the boys’ and girls’ teams since 2003), Coach Vehslage is excited to collaborate with Mrs. Rix-Stout as well as to tailor his own coaching specifically to the boys’team.
The squash team has grown tremendously and added many enthusiastic new players this year. With the new Bugliari Athletic Center, which accommodates eight squash courts, more spots for players will be available and post-tryout “cuts” should be more limited. There will be a full varsity and JV team, allowing many players to get opportunities to practice and play.
The team has had a great start to the season, winning 7-0 on both of their first matches against Blair and Princeton Day Academy. Their next game is home against Millburn on December 19th.
Coach Vehslage is “excited to be in [the team’s] new home in the BAC” and hopes for “a great season with captain Krish Bhavnani” (VI).
By Caroline Santoro (V)
After a tied record of 13-13 last year, the girls’ basketball team is ready for another successful season. Having graduated three key seniors last year, the team has been working hard to adjust since preseason began on November 20th.
Captain Megan Horn (VI) thinks that “it will be great to see how some of the new players step up.” She is excited to see how the team will work as a unit, and she is confident that they will be able to improve greatly and perform even better this year with continued hard work.
In her opinion, the best part of the team is “how close [the girls] are and how much [they] are able to push each other and support each other in practice.”
The team had its first scrimmage on December 7th against Governor of Livingston High School, and they won their first home game 62-29 on December 15 against Belvidere High School.
By Caroline Santoro (V)
The boys’ basketball team is off to a great start this season. Having graduated five seniors last year, this year’s team is quite young. Captain Michael Weber (VI) feels “excited to get started this season because of a lot of fresh faces in the program. With the majority of players being either freshmen or sophomores, it is exciting to see what the younger guys can bring to the table.”
The team ended with a record of 11-12 last year and plans to keep working hard for continued improvement and success. Head Coach Jason Murdock says that his main goal for this season is to create an environment in which the players feel valued, have fun with the competitive nature of the game, and, of course, enjoy a few victories.
Coach Murdock has been coaching the team since 2007. When asked what his favorite part of coaching basketball is, he said, “As a former player, the competition. But as a coach, it’s seeing the relationships formed by the team and players reaching their potential by creating an environment that is both challenging and rewarding.”
The varsity team had its first scrimmage on December 5th against Morris Catholic High School, and their first away game on December 15th against Koinonia Academy.
By Nick Robinson (V)
This past month, the boys’ cross country team ended their fall season on a high note. The team placed fourth in the county and kept their Prep ‘A’ Championship title. Coach Matthew Horesta added that the team “finished fifth in Non-Public ‘A’, beating Don Bosco, Delbarton, and Bishop Eustace. I think one would be hard-pressed to find a school as small as ours competing at the level that the Pingry boys’ team did this past year.”
The runners enjoyed success on an individual level as well. Captain Jeffrey Xiao (V) said that
“Henry Wood (III) ran a 16:51, breaking a school record by over half a minute.”
Xiao added that, as of next season, the team would be losing “Ben Vazquez (VI) and Colin Edwards (VI), two high scoring runners who are valuable parts of our varsity lineup.” Looking forward to next year, Coach Horesta said, “Our goals are team goals: finish higher in the county meet, win Prep ‘A’ for the third year in a row, and finish higher in Non-Public ‘A.’”
By Nick Robinson (V)
The boys’ winter track and field team is looking forward to a strong season. Captain Ben Vazquez (VI) said that last year, the team “lost two great leaders, who were also our captains,” but that the team is still capable of scoring points.
Head Coach Christopher Shilts, who is new to the team this year, said he hopes to “create a track and field culture with kids that are committed to track.” Coach Shilts said that his goals for the team this season are for “the kids who run spring track to have a strong and good base” and for the team to have 100% practice participation. Vazquez said that he hopes for the team “to stay strong. We’re not too concerned on the outcome of meets. We’re more focused on staying strong for the spring.” The winter track team will start competing right before winter break starts.
The team’s first tournament was the Bishop Loughlin Games at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.
By Brooke Pan (III)
The ski team is looking forward to a strong season under the leadership of Head Coach Julianne Coxe and Captains Lindsey Hogan (VI), Nick Ladino (VI), Conor Mahoney (VI), and Annie Leithead (V). Having recruited many new members this year, the captains are excited for a “better chance of making it to States,” a team-based competition, with the hopes of sending more racers to the Race of Champions, an individual competition.
In addition to the performance of the team, Hogan and the other captains are putting a big emphasis on the safety of each member. “Taking care of our bodies and our equipment, while always being aware of our surroundings is not only vital to skiing, but also in life,” Hogan said. By incorporating skiing into the other aspects of their lives, Hogan believes that “it will lead to better health and happiness.”
With the winter season drawing closer, Leithead, along with the rest of the team, is “confident in [their] abilities” and is excited to embrace the “magical time” of winter. The team’s first race is the Giant Slalom Race #1 at Mountain Creek.
By Martha Lewand (IV)
The girls’ swim team, led by Head Coach Deidre O’Mara and captains Kassidy Peterson (VI) and Naiyah Atulomah (VI), is headed in a promising direction this year.
When asked about this season’s goals, Mrs. O’Mara said, “I would love for us to win the Prep Championship again this year and have all of our swimmers in the top 12 for every event.” She also added that they would like to have a final record of 7-5 within the conference.
After an amazing season last year guided by first-year coach Mrs. O’Mara and five senior captains, the future of the team looks to carry that success.
“We are excited to have a lot of returning talent this year and skilled incoming freshmen,” Atulomah noted. “Our team has a lot of depth that will definitely lead to improvements later on in the season.”
The team had amazing success at their first two home meets, winning 112-58 and 102-68 against Watchung Hills and Hunterdon Central respectively.
“Our swimmers are excited and ready to take on this new season and thrive,” Autlomah added. “We are looking forward to bonding and pushing our limits as a team. With the depth we now have, Kassidy and I can’t wait to see what championship season holds for us.”
By Jemma Kushen (III)
Girls’ cross country had an outstanding season this year. They placed third in the NJSIAA Group Championships (November 11th) and sixteenth out of twenty-one teams in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions (November 18th), ending the season in seventeenth place in the state.
Nikki Vanasse (IV) won the Group Championships race with a time of 18:45. The team then qualified for the Meet of Championships where Vanasse finished third, setting a new school record on the course with a time of 18:23.
Vanasse was one of few runners in sound health for the race, as many others were not able to finish; Anna Wood (VI) could not finish the race after falling, Ryan Davi (III) had an iron deficiency and could not compete, and Alina Irvine (III) finished the race with a stress fracture.
Despite these setbacks, the team pulled through to achieve remarkable results.
According to Head Coach Tim Grant and Irvine, those meets marked the end of a “great” and “very fun and exciting” season during which the team won the Newark Academy Invitational, the Shore Coach Invitational, the Valley Division of the Skylands Conference, and the Prep “A” Championships.
By Zara Jacob (III)
Snow will not stop this year’s girls winter track and field team! With captains Avery Schiffman (VI) and Anna Wood (VI), the team is getting ready to go, having had their first practice the Monday after Thanksgiving Break.
Head Coach Christopher Shilts spoke about the team’s goals for this year, putting emphasis on “the daily track and field commitment” and expecting every player to put their best foot forward.
With workouts, daily practice, and hard work, this year’s team is on the path to a successful season. On the topic of their goals for the season, Coach Shilts states that “they are not particularly worried about results, just the process.” This is an important sentiment to keep in mind as the winter track and field team focuses on the importance of personal goals and achievements as well as building camaraderie in their team.
With a great season ahead of them, the winter track and field team participated in their first competition at the Bishop Loughlin Games on December 16.
By Victoria Gu (IV)
The girls’ ice hockey team began their season with a scrimmage against Summit High School. The game ended in a 6-6 tie, but the team outshot Summit 20-19. With an aggressive start, the team is looking forward to a favorable season.
Head Coach Kate Whitman-Annis described how players both new to the team and returning are mingling well together. “They’re working hard and are always excited to get on the ice,” she said. “They really care about each other as a team.”
In addition to performing drills that refine their technique, the team has been competing with each other in casual games during practice. Coach Whitman-Annis is proud of the players’ growing teamwork.
The team’s goals, as always, include winning games. However, both the coach and the players of the team want to make sure “to have fun” and to “foster a team environment both on and off the ice,” as said by Coach Whitman-Annis. With a 3-3 record so far, the team aims to continue to practice with these goals in mind in order to further achieve both individual and team success.
By Victoria Gu (IV)
The boys’ ice hockey team started their season with a win and a loss over Thanksgiving break. The first game was a 4-0 loss against Randolph High School, a formidable opponent. “Randolph is always a challenge,” Head Coach Scott Garrow said. However, the team made a comeback in the second game against Summit High School, winning 4-2. Players who scored against Summit include Nick Spinelli (V), Colin McKinnon (VI), Ryan Bush (IV), and Austin Parsons (VI).
This year, nine freshmen have joined the team, more than the number of members in any other grade. While the large number of new players means a large change in the team’s overall composition and dynamic, the team seems to be adjusting well.
With a 7-1 record so far, the team aims to win the Skyland Conference and advance to the state tournament. According to Coach Garrow, the team’s enthusiasm matches these goals: “They have a lot of energy, and they’re very competitive.”
By Ameera Ebrahim (III)
The girls’ fencing team has started off the season very well, with all the fencers eager to tackle new challenges and take advantage of new facilities. With preseason ending and the regular season starting, the girls are excited to test out their brand new electric fencing strips. Monica Chan (III) said, “I think it’s great that we have new equipment and a new facility in the BAC. It’s really exciting seeing the team change and transition into this space, and I must say warmups are much less crowded. This new space allows for a larger team and more people practicing at once.”
Previously, the fencing team had practiced in the storage room in the arts wing. The introduction of the Bugliari Athletics Center was a big step up for fencing. The team has been utilizing these new facilities as much as possible. Coach Li says his goals for this fencing season “are to form a cohesive, competitive, social unit that enjoys training, competing, and hanging out together.”
With hard work, the girls fencing team hopes to have a successful season. The fencing team had their first tournament at the District’s tournament on December 16th.
By Ameera Ebrahim (III)
The boys’ fencing team has started off well. During preseason, the team alternated between footwork and conditioning every day.
As the regular season began, the team practiced the aforementioned footwork and conditioning as well as fencing under the supervision of head coach Ted Li.
Captain Michael Sun (V) says his goal for this fencing season “is to make sure that everyone improves as a fencer and feels invested into the team.” It is clear that the team is driven by teamwork and a desire for everyone to improve as a fencer. This is especially important as brand new fencers on the team can learn from those who are more experienced.
With the new Bugliari Athletics Center, the team will be able to practice on electric fencing strips to aid them in achieving this goal. The boys participated in their first tournament on December 16th at Bernards High School.
By Meghan Durkin (III)
As the winter sports season approaches, the girls’ squash team is thrilled to get back on the courts. This year’s team, led by new head coach Mrs. Tina Rix-Stout and captains Rachel Chen (VI) and Namita Davey (VI), will strive to continue the success of last year’s season, during which the team finished second in Division II at Nationals. The team is looking forward to improving their ranks by “making it into Division I” and are “hoping to win State Championships,” Chen says.
As the squash courts in the Bugliari Athletic Center are up and running for their first full season, the girls will now practice on campus instead of using the courts at Drew University as they did in previous years. This advantage holds promise for the captains and the rest of the team to “improve match performance” as well as to “build team bonding.”
In addition, the increase in the size of the team is an exciting opportunity for growth in the squash program and for a strong season. Davey and the other girls, who won their first home match 6-1 against Poly Prep on December 13th, are hoping “more people will come out to watch our matches and support.”