Note: This article was written before the transition to remote school, and the subsequent cancellation of spring athletics around the country. We have decided to publish this article because it is still worth recognizing the talent of our student athletes.
As spring begins, sports teams are gearing up for the new season. Coming off a successful campaign in 2019 and led by a talented senior class, Big Blue is likely to continue its excellence on the playing fields this spring.
Boys’ lacrosse is coming off a 9-8 overall record, having gone 3-1 in Skyland Conference play. Last year the team was in transition, as they were accustomed to competing for the Non-Public State Championship, but this spring will be no transition season. The team is led by senior captains Kalman Kraham, Ben Peacock, and Matt Korth. Kraham, a Lafayette Lacrosse recruit and all-state player, has tallied 103 goals and 33 assists in the last three years. “This year I am excited for the opportunity to get back on top, all the guys around me have been working really hard and as a captain I just want to make everyone better around me,” Kraham said.
Girls’ lacrosse is headed into the spring coming off an extremely successful campaign in 2019. The team won its second straight Central Jersey, Group 1 Sectional title. This spring, Girls’ Lacrosse Coach and Director of Athletics, Carter Abbott, is at the helm of what looks like another very capable roster. The team is led by a pair of four year starters: University of Pennsylvania commit Alyson Feeley (VI) and Stanford commit Emma Capanna (VI). “I am really looking forward to getting back with the girls for my last season, we want to get the three-peat in the State Sectional,” Capanna said. Last year, the girls fell just short of the Somerset County title. “We’ve been in the county finals the last few years but this time around I want to show up and win counties. We are ready,” Capanna remarked.
The baseball team is entering its second season with Coach Ross in the lead. Last year, the team played one of the toughest schedules in the state and finished 7-10. However, the team is still optimistic for this season, led by four-year starting short-stop and Tufts recruit Matt Lee (VI). “Of course the goal is winning a county championship, but in my last season I want to leave a winning legacy for the teams to come. I’m less focussed on stats this year, I want to help the younger guys and set a good example for them,” Lee said. While Matt Lee leads the team in experience, he is not alone. Fellow seniors Anthony Rubino, Tyler McLaughlin, and Shane Shannon will be key contributors to the team’s success. McLaughlin has added some speed to his pitch, clocking in at 83 mph, while Thomas Santana (IV) is headed into his sophomore season having already thrown over 200 pitches at the varsity level. Between McLaughlin and Santana, Big Blue is in safe hands on the mound. Offensive talent is scattered throughout the roster, but we will likely see Matt Lee, Anthony Rubino, and Ryan Smith (VI) taking the lead. The trio has struck for 90 runs in the past three seasons and looks to wrap things up in style in their final spring with Big Blue.
Softball comes off a 17-7 overall record. Loaded with upperclassman talent, the team is looking to improve from last year’s run and has its eyes on the Skyland Conference title. A wave of junior talent will supply a steady supporting cast for four-year starter and all-county selection Nicolette Brigante (VI). “I’m really excited about this season, we have a lot of returners. Personally, I want to get to my 100th hit. That would symbolize all the hard work I have put in the past four years. All the extra work after practice and all the hours I have poured in, I’m chasing that 100,” Brigante said.
Boys’ tennis enters the spring after an exciting state tournament run in 2019. They finished as Non-Public “B” state finalists, ending the season with a 12-6 record overall. With four freshmen on the nine-player varsity squad, there will be plenty of opportunity for underclassmen to thrive. Junior captain Hugh Zhang will lead a group of talented players this season as they look to make it over the hurdle in this year’s state championship.
Golf enters the season after a clean sweep of the county tournament in 2019. The boys finished 15-4 while the girls wrapped up at 11-5. The reigning county champions have returning seniors Burke Pagano, Alec Bliemel, and Ian Larson on the boys’ side. “We have a really talented team coming off a county title last year, so hopefully we can get some more trophies on the shelf,” Pagano said. Senior Ashley Lu and junior Zara Jacob will headline the girls’ team. Lu and Jacob hope to pass their experience down to the underclassmen, with four talented sophomores returning from last season.
Track and field is returning strong yet again. The girls’ team is led by top pole vaulter Caroline Dannebaum (VI) and skilled long distance runners, Nikki Vanasse (VI) and Ryan Davi (V). “This year we are looking to win our conference meet. We have a strong group of seniors who have been really successful and we want to instill a competitive environment among the younger grades,” Dannenbaum said.
There has been widespread excitement amongst the community this year regarding athletics, and attendance at games have been much higher than in prior years. Our teams have been thriving off this school support.“It definitely helped our team during the fall, having good crowds and the support of our classmates and teachers at games this fall. We try to give that back by going out to as many games we can to support all the other teams,” noted girls’ soccer captain and Gettysburg recruit Leah Mangold. The spring season is shaping up to be incredibly strong, and our teams will continue to push boundaries!
Following successful seasons across the board last winter, Pingry boys’ athletics have raised the bar even higher this year. Outstanding accomplishments from all teams continue to demonstrate Big Blue’s athletic excellence, and Pingry is poised to finish strong this season. Here is a look at some of the most memorable highlights so far.
Coming into the season, Matt Fallon boasted several records on his résumé. Only a junior, Matt is already one of the best swimmers in the country, and this winter he added a few more achievements to his list. Against North Hunterdon, Fallon broke the national independent short course records for the 200 meter IM and 100 meter breaststroke. He also claimed the meet record for the 100 yard breaststroke at Lawrenceville. Regarding these successes, Fallon commented, “The hard work during practice definitely paid off, and I couldn’t have done it without the team.”
Armed with one of Pingry’s best lineups in recent memory, the powerhouse boys’ swimming team, led by seniors Reid McBoyle (VI) and Will Stearns (VI), swept both the Skyland Conference and Prep Championships, and won its 13th consecutive state title, breaking the state record for the most state titles won back to back in a 98-72 win over Bishop Eustace. Upon winning the state title, captain Reid McBoyle remarked “After seeing the other captains in years past win the state title, it’s been an important ritual for us to come here, do well and win. And this year if feels really good because we finally broke that record. It’s awesome that we got to go through the program and become the first team to beat that record.”
The boys’ winter track team is also having a terrific season; as Captain Henry Wood (V) remarks, “we are consistently dropping PRs each race.” The team put up impressive results at the Prep Championships, with James Draper (VI) coming in fifth for shotput and Wood winning the 1600 meter run. Wood also broke the 1000 meter school record at the New Balance games and placed second in the 800 meter at the Skyland Conference Championships.
Pingry has dominated the ice as well, with the boys’ ice hockey team heading into the state tournament as number one seed. Juniors Eric Bush and Jared Kordonsky both hit the 100 point mark this season, and the team has secured multiple victories, including a recent win against The Hun School. Overall, it has undeniably been a “solid season,” according to hockey captain James Cummings (VI).
After their excellent season last year, the girls’ varsity squash team has high hopes for the upcoming season. Led by Captains Renée Chan (VI) and Jessica Hutt (VI), they hope to further improve on their record from the previous year. Coach Francis Odeh, who is new to Pingry, hopes to “bring excitement, hard work, and improvement to the team” as their preseason begins, and is already amazed by the determination and enthusiasm of his players.
Despite the graduation of their number two player, Alisa Chokshi ‘19, the captains are optimistic about their team’s lineup. “Our main goal is to beat our toughest competitors, which are Hackley, Poly Prep, and Lawrenceville,” said Chan. In addition to hard work, the captains prioritize the importance of team bonding since many new freshmen are joining the team. “We want to build on our team culture and cultivate positivity,” said Hutt, who hopes to have a successful season.
Looking to build off last year’s success, the boys’ varsity squash team is ready for another busy and focused season. The team, led by Chris Zachary ‘19 and Jeffrey Xiao ‘19, finished with a record of 15-2 and capped off a dominant season as Division II National Champions.
The coaching staff has seen a major overhaul from last season with the departure of Mrs. Tina Rix-Stout and the addition of two new coaches, Mr. Francis Odeh, Assistant Director of Squash, and Mr. Chad Smith, Director of Squash. Mr. Odeh will bring more than 30 years of squash expertise, including a #1 national ranking, and will mainly run the girls’ varsity team. With past coaching experience at The Lawrenceville School and a successful junior career, Mr. Smith will oversee and direct the auxiliary squash program and “build the brand,” according to Coach Ramsay Vehslage. Coach Vehslage will remain as the Head Coach of the boys’ varsity team while Coach Olivia Tandon continues her role as the primary JV squash coach.
When asked about the goals for this season, Coach Vehslage stated, “Get seeded in Division I … In order to get there, we need to focus on winning five-game matches and in order to do that, we need to focus on fitness.” Mr. Vehslage also remarked that, “We have a lot of guys who are very passionate about the sport and are willing to put in the work individually so that they can contribute to the success of the whole team.” With captains Collin Wen (VI), Alex Chiang (VI), Waleed Nisar (VI), and Charlie Malone (VI), the boys’ varsity squash season is bound to have a triumphant season.
The very underclassmen heavy wrestling team is excited to see what achievements lie ahead in the next few years. Captain Mason Stahl (VI) says about this year’s team: “We have a very young team this year; over half the players are freshmen. Our goal is to have every player improve and to create a strong footing so that Pingry wrestling will continue to grow and evolve in the future.” Along with the infusion of freshmen this year, there is a whole new three-team coaching staff being implemented, including the head coach. “We want them to be a part of the wrestling family, and hopefully this new insight will accelerate our program even more,” says Stahl. With a whole new team and culture, the next few years could be very successful for Pingry wrestling. The season officially begins for the team on December 11 against The Peddie School. We wish the team the best of luck!
The girls’ basketball team is looking strong this winter, with high hopes to build on their performance from last year. Captains Jennifer Ryan (VI), Aly Feeley (VI), and Olivia Volpe (V) will be leading this year’s team as they approach the upcoming season with a new and improved mentality.
“It was kind of hard last season because we lost a lot of our best players,” Volpe recalled. “Because of that, we went into last season with low expectations and … we lost a lot of morale.” Working from the lessons they learned from last year, the girls’ basketball team has made it their mission to “work harder on [their] team chemistry.”
Feeley is confident in the team’s ability to achieve this goal. “We all have a strong work ethic and a desire to get better every day, which is critical to the success and improvement of a team.” She adds, “this team has a really special environment and culture that differentiates it from other sports teams on campus … I can’t wait to see how the season goes!”
After a spectacular showing in both the county and state tournaments last year, the senior-heavy boys’ basketball team is looking to make an even deeper run into this season’s tournaments. Coach Jason Murdock said, “Knowing that we have six returning seniors from last year’s team, experience is key and we always want to win our conference, advance in our county tournament, and show well in the state tournament.” The team has been preparing offseason, Coach Murdock explains. “[The guys] have been in the gym working with Coach Scott, so they are very motivated.” It is clear that team culture is very crucial to the success of the program, Coach Murdock explains. Incoming freshmen should expect, “a team that cares about each other, a team that works hard and is competitive, and a team that’s going to do their best to represent Pingry.” The team officially kicks off the year with a difficult game at Immaculata on December 23rd.
This season, the Pingry ski team is looking to continue their positive momentum by improving upon last season’s success. Led by captains Matt Dispenza (VI), Natalie Ladino (VI), Peter McClearn (VI), and Rosemary Collins (V), the team hopes to build on last year’s performances while also fostering a strong rapport between each member of the team.
The ski team’s main priority this year is “to qualify for team states and get more individual skiers into the Race of Champions,” Collins said. To do this, the captains have implemented additional on-snow training sessions at the National Winter Activity Center. “This mountain has a steeper trail than we usually train on […] By training more on a steeper pitch, we will be better prepared to race,” Collins added.
Aside from individual improvement, the captains also hope to further the camaraderie on the team. Ladino notes, “One of our goals is to foster a stronger team environment so that we can encourage a more positive and supportive atmosphere for everyone.”
Overall, the Big Blue ski team is looking forward to a promising season.
The boys’ winter track team is returning with a strong lineup this year. Despite losing a handful of senior players, the team still has fifteen boys, including five new freshmen. With both new and returning runners, Head Coach Chris Shilts says, “We have some strong individual talent, and we hope to put these pieces together with some with lesser experience for some relay experimenting.”
The boys will be pushing through rigorous training in the winter weather. Henry Wood (V), a runner for the boys’ winter track team, said, “There are a lot of different elements that go into our training. The team lifts in the weight room four days a week. It is important for us to practice even if conditions are harsh so we don’t fall behind on our training.” After finishing fifth last year, the team hopes to crack into the top three in the NJSIAA Prep “A” Meet. The team is also hoping to place high in the Skyland Conference.
With a lot of strong runners, the boys’ winter track team is ready to perform to the best of their ability. They are excited to succeed and show that their training has paid off!
The girls’ winter track team, led by captains Dylan Anidjar (VI) and Kier Brown (VI), is looking to carry their great successes from last spring into the winter season. Last spring, two relay squads made it to nationals. This year, the team is looking to build on this achievement. Coach Christopher Shilts’s main goals this season are to “make a run at the Group A title and place high at Nationals in both relay and individual events.”
The team is made up of both experienced upperclassmen and newcomers to the sport. Anidjar believes that with the team’s “supportive and knowledgeable coaching staff” as well as its “hard work, [it] will definitely lead to a successful season.” With the season right around the corner, girls’ winter track is ready to achieve their goals and have a great season.