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Comsewogue

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Comsewogue junior Kayla Goncalves takes a pitch at the plate against visiting West Islip April 16. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue’s girls softball team stayed within striking distance through six innings of play, trailing West Islip by one run through the first five. But the Lions’ bats came alive in the top of the 7th, scoring four unanswered runs to put the game away 8-2. The Warriors scored both of their runs in the bottom of the first but struggled offensively the rest of the way in a League III matchup at home April 16.

The loss drops the Warriors to 2-5 in the league and 2-6 overall at the midway point of the season, with ten games remaining before post-season play begins. Comsewogue is back in action April 23 when they’ll take their bats on the road to face Huntington at 11 a.m.

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Addison Azmoun leaps a fence. Photo by David Luces

Horseback riding is a sport that requires full commitment, courage and a particular skill set, one based on mental fortitude and bravery to even get up on the horse. 

For members of the Old Towne Equestrian’s middle school team, they can’t picture their lives without their horses. Now their collective passion, as well as their recent successes in tournaments throughout the season, has propelled them to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Finals taking place April 26-28 in Pennsylvania.   

From left, Addison Azmoun, coach Lauren Sobel, Graney, Ali Treuting and Hairston show off the awards they’ve received this season. Photo by David Luces

Myrna Treuting, head coach of the team, couldn’t be prouder of the girls. 

“We’ve had a pretty strong team this year,” she said. 

To get to nationals, individual and team performances throughout the season are crucial in getting the points necessary to qualify. First, if the team has enough points, it qualifies for regionals, and the top two teams then go to zone finals. The Old Towne team won the IEA Zone 2 Final March 16, securing a spot in nationals and bringing home a trophy back to the Old Towne Equestrian Center barn. Two members of the team: seventh-grader Maggie Graney of Garden City and eighth-grader Ali Treuting, Myrna’s daughter, also qualified individually to compete at nationals.   

“This is the first time that the middle school team has [collectively] qualified for nationals,” the head coach said. 

According to Treuting, the team is the top ranked middle school team in all of New York State. 

Fellow coach Lauren Sobel said the journey has not been easy. 

“They are very dedicated, hardworking and they show great sportsmanship,” she said. “Going to nationals is very exciting for us.”

Sobel said most of the girls have been riding at the barn their whole careers, and started at a very young age, some before they could
even walk. 

In preparation for nationals, the coaches have made sure the riders are securing extra practice and are getting used to riding without stirrups. 

In many of the competitions, riders draw the name of the horse they will ride out of a hat the morning of the event. It is a way of evening the playing field as many riders become comfortable riding with their own horses. 

Treuting said it’s the luck of the draw sometimes, and it doesn’t come down to the horse but to the skill of the rider. She mentioned her team has experience riding many different horses and can easily adapt to a new steed. 

“I think going to nationals is a great opportunity to advance and learn to ride different horses  outside of your comfort zone,” seventh-grader Tess Hairston of Selden said. 

Graney added the season has been pretty good, and it’s really cool to go back to nationals this year. The young girl had qualified individually for nationals last year as well. 

The members of the team are close with one another, and though they don’t go to school together, they relish the time they spend with each other at the barn. 

“It is exciting, you get to learn together and get to grow as friends,” Hairston said.  It’s nice because we get to see each other more often and do things that we love.”

Tess Hairston practices drills. Photo by David Luces

Treuting has owned the Old Towne Equestrian Center for close to 30 years and started a horseback riding team about 15 years ago, just around the time IEA was created. The organization’s mission is to introduce equestrian sports to students grades four through 12. 

In addition to the middle school team, Treuting coaches a high school team and the Stony Brook University Equestrian Team as well.   

“I think we can do quite well at nationals, we have a very good team,” she said. “We are so proud of them, they work hard and they deserve it.”

The Old Towne Equestrian Center is located at 471 Boyle Road in Selden.

By Bill Landon

The Warriors continued their winning ways defeating Hauppauge, 17-4, at home in a Div II matchup April 2. 

The victory extends Comsewogue’s winning streak to four in a row with a record of 4-0 in league, 4-1 overall. Senior attack T.J. Heyder tallied five assists and two goals, and Sean Kennedy recorded three goals and three assists for the Warriors. Senior Chris Wolfe stretched the net three times and Jake Deacy split the pipes twice.

Hauppauge’s Riley Henselder had one goal along with an assist, and Andrew Sellitto, Dylan Sas and Andrew Maiorini also scored.

Comsewogue hits the road on April 6 against Kings Park while Hauppauge retakes the field hosting Harborfields April 4. Game times are scheduled for 10 a.m and 4:30 p.m. respectively. 

By Bill Landon

Near the close of the regular season, Comsewogue’s boys basketball team was already secure in the post-season berth being 8-7 in league, but they needed a win at home for a higher seed in the playoff brackets. They got that victory handily against Huntington, notching a 72-44 win on senior night Feb. 7.

Comsewogue junior forward Jaden Martinez led the Warriors in scoring with six field goals, a triple and two from the free throw line for a total of 17 points. In addition, Martinez was just as effective under the boards as he ended the game with 17 rebounds. Junior Mike McGuire followed up with four triples and three from the charity stripe for 15 points while senior guard Devin Rooney netted 11 and junior Nick Stiles banked 10.

Juniors Daniel Danziger and Lex Colato topped the scoring chart for Blue Devils with 15 and 12 respectively while freshman Max Rentsch followed up by netting 11. This game conclude their season at 2-15 in league.

With the win Comsewogue improves to 9-7 in league which makes them the 16th seed
in class AA and will face Longwood, the No. one seed, Feb. 13 at Longwood High School in the opening round of the playoffs. Game time is set for 5:00 p.m.

By Bill Landon

The Comsewogue Warriors girls basketball team came out strong for the first three quarters Jan. 31, but visiting Smithtown East Bulls put their foot on the gas in the final 8 minutes of play outscoring Comsewogue, 19 to 13, to snatch a 40-33 victory.

Smithtown East junior Brianna Durland led the Bulls in scoring with 12 points. She was followed by junior Katie Bigliani and sophomore Katie Illari who banked seven each.

On the Comsewogue side, sophomores Samantha Andresen, Annalise Russo and eighth-grader Danielle McGuire all notched seven points apiece.

With the win, Smithtown East improves to 6-7 in league with three games remaining before the postseason. The Bulls are set to take on the undefeated North Babylon Feb. 5 at 5:45 p.m.

The loss drops Comsewogue to 3-10 in league with three games remaining in the regular season, the last game of which is on the road against Huntington Feb. 7. Tipoff is at 5:45 p.m.

By Bill Landon

Centereach trailed Comsewogue’s boys basketball team from the opening tip off and closed within 4 points late in the game, but the Warriors defense was up to the task, holding off the late surging Cougars for a 71-65 victory on the road Jan. 17. 

Comsewogue junior Michael McGuire seemingly couldn’t miss from long range as the young man nailed seven triples and a free throw for a team high of 22 points. Teammate Milan Johnson netted a pair of treys, 4 field goals and 4 from the line putting up a total of 18; and teammate Liam Gray tacked on 17. Centereach junior forward Matt Robbert topped the scoring chart for the Cougars throwing down 9 field goals and netting 4 from the line.

With their third win in a row, Comsewogue improves to 5-3 in league and 7-5 overall. The Warriors continued their road tour against Deer Park Jan. 21 and were back on their home turf Jan. 23 hosting Bellport at 5:45 p.m. With the loss, Centereach dropped to 4-5 in league 7-5 overall, and were back in action at home Jan. 23.

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Comsewogue School District approved the appointment of the new superintendent and other staff Jan. 7. From left: Susan Casali, Jennifer Polychronakos, Michael Mosca, Joseph Coniglione and Jennifer Quinn. Photo from David Luces

By David Luces

Come the start of the 2019-20 school year, a number of new positions will be filled by well-known faces. Meanwhile many school officials are still dreading the day when Superintendent Joe Rella will step down as the district’s head.

The Comsewogue board of education approved new positions at its district board meeting on Jan. 7. 

Joseph Coniglione, who previously served as Comsewogue High School principal, was appointed assistant superintendent for staff and student services on a four-year probationary appointment from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2023. 

‘This school district prides itself on being a family.’

— Joseph Coniglione

Coniglione has been an educator for nearly 23 years, but before he came to Comsewogue he taught special education in the Brentwood school district for 10 years. He has served the Comsewogue district for the past 12 years and during his time there became the assistant principal and ultimately principal at Comsewogue High School. 

The new assistant superintendent said he is looking forward to continuing to make the school district the best place for its students. 

“Academics is a huge part [of our school],” Coniglione said. “But also, this school district prides itself on being a family.” 

Jennifer Quinn, who has been named the incoming superintendent of Comsewogue School District at the start of the next school year, said she is excited to be working with Coniglione and new principal of the high school, Michael Mosca. 

“The things we were able to do at the high school was amazing,” Quinn said. “We are so proud of that work.” 

Mosca was approved on a three-year appointment from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022, and he has previously served as the principal for Islip High School starting in 2014. Before that he served as executive assistant principal in the Comsewogue School District. 

“We worked together many years ago and now I’m re-joining the team,” Mosca said. “I’m excited to be back and we’re going to do some great things.” 

Mosca said his focus is for his students at Comsewogue High School to be ready for the next step whether it be college or straight into their career. He also wants to revamp the school’s business department. 

‘It’s going to be exciting to see how everything transitions to the next level.’

— Jennifer Quinn

Quinn said another focus for the high school will be increasing results of the district’s Problem-Based Learning program, which is a student-centered teaching method in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving open-ended problems that are often based in real-life examples, for example, figuring out what might be wrong with the sediment in a teacher’s garden.

Additionally at the board meeting, Susan Casali was appointed assistant superintendent for business and Jennifer Polychronakos was named the district’s new assistant superintendent for instruction. 

While those appointed said they are excited to start in their new positions come July, many said they will miss Rella, who announced he would be stepping down back in November 2018.

“We are following the foundation that (former superintendent) Dr. Rella laid for us,” Quinn said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how everything transitions to the next level.” 

Tom Judge, center, stands with his family. Photo from JoAnna Judge

By Rich Acritelli

“Every kid should have one Tom Judge as their teacher and coach within their lifetime.”

These words were recently stated by Comsewogue School District Superintendent Joseph Rella on the educational and coaching legacy of Tom Judge who is finally being recognized by the district after decades of working for the school and community. On Jan. 10, his name will adorn the high school wrestling room.

As a kid, the longtime resident of Mount Sinai lived in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Judge’s father was a New York State police trooper and a veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart as a Navy gunner in the Pacific during World War II. After living in government housing that was provided to veterans, Judge’s father moved a family of nine children to a Levitt house in Hicksville. From his earliest years as a kid, Judge supported himself by working jobs as a roofer and pumping gas at a local Shell station.

Judge’s true athletic passion was displayed through his iron will to play baseball, football and wrestling. At Hicksville High School, Judge was a respected team leader who excelled at being a linebacker and halfback. While it was many decades since he played for the Comets, with a big smile, Judge has recalled how his football team defeated rival Farmingdale to win their conference. In the winter months, Judge was a devoted wrestler who competed at 167 and 191 pounds. In order to help his team win matches, Judge wrestled at a heavier weight, where he made a name for himself by placing in several tournaments.

Tom Judge in his college football days at Yankton college 1968. Photo from JoAnna Judge

After taking a year off after high school, Judge had a unique opportunity to attend college. Football coaches from South Dakota’s Yankton College held a recruiting picnic at Belmont State Park in Babylon. This school was interested in accepting Judge due to his reputation for being a competitive football player. Judge received an athletic scholarship and grant funding that was offered to him by this school. At Yankton, this kid from Nassau County demonstrated his versatility as a football player and a wrestler. Attending college with him was Robin Winkel, a native of Hicksville and a strong wrestler, who later proved to be an incredibly successful wrestling coach at the Rocky Point school district. Both men drove together from Hicksville to the wide-open lands of South Dakota where they met members of the Sioux tribe.

At Yankton, Judge was a leading wing back who was able to run the ball and block against the large defensive linemen. He also played with fellow Nassau County native Lyle Alzado. This aggressive and wild football player had a distinguished career with the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders. Judge’s team won the tri-state football championship comprised of teams from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, but the training conditions were not ideal, and he seriously hurt his ankle playing on a practice field that was formerly a cow pasture. 

Judge’s youngest daughter, JoAnna, marveled at the concentration that her father had to play both football and wrestling at an extremely competitive level and still maintain his grades. JoAnna said her father has “firmly lead by example, and his energy is contagious during every endeavor.” While he was at this school to play sports, Judge has said he is immensely proud of his opportunity to earn a college degree that saw him major in physical education and sociology and minor in psychology. 

As a kid, Judge was only a short train ride away from New York City, and as a college senior he completed his student teaching in a school that only had 200 children. He recalled most of these kids were farmers who had to endure the late winter flooding of the tributary waterways that flowed into the Missouri River. Judge has long enjoyed the finer aspects of the outdoors and he was able to hike through the beauty of the Black Hills near Yankton. Judge’s oldest daughter, Amanda, fondly remembered the family nature walks that were led by her father to “look for fox and deer in the fields by their house, and this respect of the outdoors has stayed with me ever since.”

For three years after his graduation in 1969, Judge taught physical education at the Tuckahoe School in Southampton. Around the same time Judge was hired as an assistant wrestling coach at Long Island University. In 1973, he was employed as a gym teacher at Comsewogue and he later earned his certificate to teach health from Stony Brook University.

Judge, top right of picture, stands with Comsewogue wrestling team 1985. Photo from JoAnna Judge

Judge’s son, Brenden, identified how he constantly meets his father’s wrestlers out in the world, and they always mention the “positive lessons” that were taught by his father. Through his 23 years as a varsity wrestling coach, Judge constantly preached a team first mentality. Brenden said his father was a stickler in ensuring his team did not disrespect the colors of the school and that his athletes were expected to conduct themselves as “gentlemen.” As a superintendent and friend, Rella praised Judge’s genuine approach in “absolutely refusing to allow any kid to fail and teach them life lessons in education and sports.” Up until he was 55 years old, Judge could be seen running, doing calisthenics, staying active and otherwise being a model for the students around him. 

Judge had the opportunity to coach and mentor one of the finest wrestlers and football players ever to be produced on Long Island. Adam Mariano was a two-time New York State champion who was also a Hanson Award winner in football. In this school year, Judge has come out of retirement to coach the junior varsity team at Comsewogue, and his current athletes have been curious to see his coaching presence around Mariano in YouTube videos that still show the strength of this legendary competitor. While wrestling is extremely difficult and grueling, the big smile, laugh and kind demeanor of Judge always made the rigors of this sport easier to handle for his athletes over the years. The character of Judge has been instrumental in turning out graduates who have been productive within all aspects of society. Because of his work within the school community, the Comsewogue wrestling team will name its room after coach Tom Judge Jan. 10 with a plaque listing all of the league, county and state winners from this school.

According to his children, Judge always pronounces his love for his wife Barbara and the success that she has achieved as a gymnastics coach at Mount Sinai School District. The Judges enjoy watching their grandson, Jaden, who is also the third generation of this family to learn how to wrestle. Armed with a warm personality, Judge practically glows about the accomplishments of his children, and he said he is elated Brenden just completed his training to become an occupational therapist. Over the last five years, he has watched JoAnna, a former state champion and respected gymnast at the University of Rhode Island, to teach and move on to coach gymnastics at Commack School District.  

Judge has never lost his love of nature and to this day enjoys visiting his daughter, Amanda, a social studies teacher at Wappinger Falls, where they continue their pursuit to discover the natural wonders of upstate New York.  

Andrew Harris, right, stands with Comsewogue Superintendent Joe Rella and two other Comsewogue students. Photo from Joe Rella

Amanda Perelli

Those who know him say Andrew Harris, a special needs teacher at the Comsewogue High School, is an empathic teacher in the classroom and an advocate for service within the community, and that he often goes above and beyond.

Harris recently organized Joe’s Day of Service, a community service initiative where students and community members pledge to give back.

“Sometimes kids are like, ‘Oh, I have to get another five to 10 service hours,’ but with him the kids are so happy doing it. He’s really visionary in many ways,” Comsewogue Superintendent Joe Rella said. “He moves comfortably between and among the teachers, the administrators, the elementary students, secondary students, and really gets them excited about service. He’s a selfless person and that comes across in everything he does.”

Comsewogue High School students clean headstones at Calverton National Cemetery May 30 as part of Joe’s Day of Service. Photo from CSD

Harris has been a member of the district for 14 years, but it wasn’t until last year, with the help of his colleagues, that the idea for Joe’s Day of Service was born. 

The name was inspired by Rella for his constant dedication to better the community. 

Harris asked Rella what he thought of creating more districtwide volunteer opportunities and Rella was instantly on board.  

“He said, ‘What do you think about creating some opportunities [in service],” Rella said. “We have different opportunities at the High School level, where kids have to do community service as a part of the National Honor Society — what about if we did it on a district level? I said, ‘That’s a fantastic idea’ and he’s transformed the whole concept of service.”

The superintendent added the community was missing a districtwide event to get everyone involved at once.

Students in Harris’ class pitched how they thought they should spend the day — excited to work outside the classroom and with others within Comsewogue. 

“We had a movement here for many, many years to get kids more involved in their community — giving back, to be more empathetic,” said Joseph Coniglione, the principal at Comsewogue High School. “The goal was to do that through community service in the area. We had a large sum of students who went out and did individual projects and a tremendous group, who went to the Calverton National Cemetery to clean off the head stones and get them prepared for the veterans.”

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said Joe’s Day of Service was so successful she expects it will only grow in coming years.

 “The Comsewogue community is very close knit, and neighbors have already been working with students, teachers and faculty to improve the lives of others through the Joe’s Day of Service projects,” Cartright said. “Andy Harris and those involved have portrayed this initiative as continuous from the start, so I have no doubt that participation will increase as more members of the community learn about the project.”

Andrew Harris, right, stands with Brookhaven town Councilwoman Valerie Cartwright (D). Photo from Joe Rella.

Harris spearheaded the initiative, developing one day-long service event that taught students the value of service while helping out the community. 

“There are major problems everywhere — addiction, depression — and the thing is, they say one of the best things to do is to help other people,” Harris said in an interview at Brookhaven Town Hall, where the students were recognized for their efforts by the town board June 14. “I wanted the students to understand that, because they don’t always have the opportunity. I wanted them to get a taste of that just in one day and understand that when you give to others you feel rich.”

Harris has inspired students to give back to their local communities, and he also teaches the importance of being a civic leader in service. 

“Andy is a veteran special education teacher, but what sets him aside from a lot of people is his ability to really be empathic toward people,” said Coniglione. “He’s probably one of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet in your life. He really tries to make others life better and just happier.” 

Miller Place traveled to Warrior nation and outscored Comsewogue, 72-52, in a nonleague matchup Dec. 10.

Miller Place junior Thomas Cirrito led his team in scoring with eight field goals, eight free throws and two triples for 30 points; Thomas Nealis, the lone senior on the squad, banked 16 along with 14 rebounds; and junior Timothy Hirdt netted 12, rebounding 12.

Atop the scoring chart for Comsewogue were Mike McGuire and Liam Gray with 13 points apiece. Both teams opened league play Dec. 12 where the Panthers hosted Wyandanch and Comsewogue took on visiting Centereach, but results were not available by press time.