Sports

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Kings Park track and field standouts competed in the Last Chance Meet Invitational at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus Jan. 25.

It was the final meet before the County Championship Feb. 1. Senior Luke Neilson placed first at 3,200m, setting a new school record for Kings Park clocking in at 9 minutes, 56.43 seconds, 14 seconds clear of second place.

Richard Mangogna, also a Kings Park senior, ran the shorter events where he captured the indoor pole vault record clearing 13 feet Dec. 14 at the Armory Track & Field facility in Manhattan. Mangogna is the No. 3 pole vaulter in Suffolk County and has qualified for the State Pole Vault Qualifier Championships at Mount Sinai High School Feb. 6.

 

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Jaden Martinez drives the baseline for the Warriors in a 58-44 victory at home against West Islip Jan. 25. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue trailed by two at the half time break before erupting in the third quarter, scoring 10 unanswered points to surge ahead of West Islip at home Jan. 25. The Warrior defense shut the door in the final eight minutes of play to win the League IV matchup 58-44.

Comsewogue senior Jaden Martinez led his team in scoring with 14, Milan Johnson, back in action after an injury, netted 11 and teammates Michael McGuire and Matt Walsh banked 10 points apiece.

In victory the Warriors improve to 5-3 in league, 9-7 overall and are back in action with a road game against Smithtown East Jan. 29. Game time is 4 p.m.

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Shoreham-Wading River freshman Annie Sheehan shoots for two for the Wildcats at home against Bayport-Blue Point Jan 24. Bill Landon photo

The Wildcats had a score to settle against visiting Bayport-Blue Point Jan. 24, having lost to the Phantoms by eight points earlier in the season. Senior Abby Korzekwinski and Sophie Costello, the freshmen, combined for a powerful one two punch netting 15 points apiece winning the league VI matchup 57-50. Shoreham-Wading River senior Hayden Lachenmeyer finished with eight points and freshman GraceAnn Leonard banked seven and with it, clinched a playoff berth.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 8-5, 10-7 overall with three games remaining before post season play begins.

The Wildcats retake the court with a road game against Amityville Jan. 31. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

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With four pins in the match, it was Ward Melville’s Nick Gaffney who led the way for the Patriots with a pin just 16 seconds in. Aidan Toomey did it in 33 seconds, senior Co-Captain Daniel Cassera won his match at the 1:09 mark and Ethan Herschander pinned his opponent 43 seconds into the second period.

With scores like those, the Patriots dominated visiting Hampton Bays, winning 59-14 in a non-league matchup at home Jan. 23. Ward Melville junior Matt Cracchiola, at 126 pounds, notched another win with a 16-0 technical fall who surpassed his 100th career victory earlier in the year and hopes to bring that momentum into the league and county finals. Patriot head coach Garrett Schnettler said Cracchiola will have his work cut out for him as he’ll be competing in the deepest weight classes in the state.

Ward Melville sophomore Christian Lievano, at 99 pounds who in his third year on varsity, is undefeated in Suffolk County this season, and has amassed a career record of 31-3.

The Patriots retake the mat in the Wes Dolon Invitational at Mattituck high school Feb. 1. First bout is 8 a.m.

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By Daniel Dunaief

Alyssa Nakken

For Lori Perez, Alyssa Nakken was a can’t-miss softball prospect. Perez was an Assistant Softball Coach at Sacramento State University, while Nakken was, at the time, a junior at Woodland High School in California.

“She was a no-brainer,” Perez said. “She was 5’10”, athletic, and played multiple sports [including basketball and volleyball]. She was home grown and had great family support.”

Indeed, when Perez saw Nakken, who was a pitcher during high school, he witnessed a player who was throwing 64 miles per hour at her father, Robert Nakken, a lawyer.

“Seeing her out there, grinding away, I could see her making an impact,” Perez said.

What Perez witnessed during Nakken’s four years at Sacramento State, which included two years as captain, was a player determined to push herself on and off the field. When Nakken was recently named the first female assistant coach of the San Francisco Giants, a team Nakken and Perez support as fans, Perez was delighted and thrilled not only for women, who have earned jobs men had held for years, but also for her former player.

Perez believes Nakken will be as successful through her contributions to the Giants as she was with softball teams she helped lead.

Nakken, who will not be in the dugout during games, will throw batting practice and will work on base running and team unity.

Nakken has a “great personality” and is “charismatic,” Perez said. The question, however, is whether baseball players will listen to her.

“She will prove herself, no doubt,” Perez offered.

Perez recalls observing Nakken watch videos, ask questions and put in considerable extra work.

“She went above and beyond to push herself,” Perez said. Nakken “put in long hours, knows the game well, understands how it’s supposed to be played and how hard and often you need to practice.”

The game of softball has numerous differences from its baseball cousin, including a smaller diamond, no leading, a bigger ball, and different starting point for bunt defenses.

Nakken, who has been working with the Giants since 2014, will be able to rely on some of the similarities to a game she excelled in as a player, while also tapping into a deep reservoir of energy and determination to contribute to a different sport, Perez suggested.

Megan Bryant, the head softball coach at Stony Brook University, said the fundamentals in the two games are similar.

“Fielding skills and arm angles [for throwing] are similar,” Bryant said.

Perez said middle infielders in both sports drop their left leg after they field a ball to throw to make a side arm throw at the start of a double play.

Perez recalled how she was holding her young daughter one day and was looking for a diaper while Nakken was taking batting practice. Nakken hit a ball that flew at the Perez and her infant daughter Caroline. At the last minute, Perez turned so the ball hit her arm and her daughter’s leg.

“She felt terrible,” Perez said, laughing about the incident now. “I knew I shouldn’t have been standing there. You think in terms of family connections and how close you get with these players. It’s huge.”

Indeed, Perez believes Nakken was fortunate to continue her softball career after she was in a car accident in which her vehicle flipped over.

“I have no idea how she walked out of that car accident alive,” Perez said. “She must have had an angel looking over her shoulder that day.”

Nakken had a storybook ending to her senior year. During senior day, she crushed a home run to left field in her first at bat. In her second time at the plate, she hit another home run to right field. The third time up, she crushed a ball to deep center field that the outfielder caught. Nakken ended up going two for four with three runs batted in during a game Sacramento State won 12-4.

“She was the kind person that people took a step back because of her presence,” Perez said.
Photos courtesy of Bob Solorio/Sacramento State Athletics

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Central Islip had a score to settle with the visiting Patriots Jan. 21, having lost to them earlier in the season at Ward Melville.

Central Islip surged ahead by 21 points midway through the third quarter when senior Giancarlo Serratore had the hot hand for the Patriots to close the gap to a single point with 1 minute, 21 seconds left in regulation. Central Islip avenged that loss by holding on to win it, 60-58. Serratore hit three triples, netted four from the floor and sank four free throws for a team high 21 points. Senior Myles Brown scored nine, and Ted Bliznakov, also a senior, banked eight, while teammates Jack Holland and Paul Otto Nicholson had six points apiece.

The Patriots are back in action Jan. 24 at home against William Floyd. Game time is 6 p.m.

The loss drops the Patriots to 4-3 in League I and 10-5 overall with five games remaining before post season play.

 

The Northport Tigers looked to continue their winning ways against the visiting Newfield Wolverines who were on a five-game winning streak and win they did, with a 75-36 victory Jan. 16 to remain atop the League III leaderboard.

Northport senior co-captain Danielle Pavinelli led the way in scoring for the Tigers with four from the floor, four triples coupled with six rebounds to lead her team with 20 points. Senior Kelly McLaughlin, also a co-captain, netted 18 and teammate Sophia Bica banked 10.

Newfield sophomore Megan Spina sank five from the floor along with a triple for 13 points, and Raiyah Reid, the eighth-grader, tacked on 10.

The win lifts Northport to 7-0 in league, 12-3 overall, with six games left before postseason play. The loss drops Newfield to 4-3 in league, 9-3 overall with eight games remaining.

 

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Senior Joe Goodrich goes for the pin on his opponent. Photo from Mel Jacoby

The Mount Sinai High School Mustangs wrestling team beat John Glenn at John Glenn High School Friday, Jan. 17 to win League VII and advance to the Suffolk County playoffs with teams from Shoreham-Wading River, Mattituck, Port Jefferson, John Glenn and Southampton.

Eighth-grader Brayden Fahrbach and senior Matt Campo both showed their stuff on the mat Jan. 17. Photo from Mel Jacoby

In an impressive victory over John Glen, Mount Sinai showed off their skills, led by seniors Matt Campo (31-2), Joe Goodrich (35-0), Mike O’Brien (31-4), Ryan Shanian (26-8), Gian Luca Ferrara; along with juniors Brenden Goodrich and Jack Tyrell. They all scored impressive wins.

Brayden Fahrbach, an eighth grader, continued his winning streak (34-0) with a pin.  Fahrbach is ranked number 1 in New York State D-2 at 99 lbs.

Mount Sinai will wrestle next at Center Moriches in the semifinals on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 4:30 p.m., with the finals at Bay Shore High School on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2:30 p.m.

The winner of the Suffolk County Championship will travel to Syracuse where they will compete at the SRC Arena and Events Center Feb. 1 for the New York State Dual – D2 Championship. Mount Sinai was the winner of this tournament in 2018 and 2019.

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Mount Sinai sophomore Gavin Takacs (L) fights for the rebound at home against Sayville Jan. 18. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai Mustangs fell behind 22 points in the 2nd quarter Jan. 18 but battled their way back against Sayville at home to retake the lead a by three in the closing seconds of regulation. It was then that Sayville senior Aidan Arnesen hit a 3-point buzzer beater to force overtime. Mount Sinai surged ahead in the overtime period holding off the Golden Flashes to win it 62-57 at home.

Head coach Ryan McNeely said his team has had some close wins and some close losses but that the close losses were in league play.

“We beat them earlier in [the season] so these two teams matchup very well, but I think our guys are tired of losing those close games,” said the coach. “We’ve got a lot of seniors who’ve been to the playoffs except for [one] year and I think they want to get back to that.”

Mount Sinai senior guard Ryan McNeely, the coach’s son, led his team in scoring with 17 points and talked about the rematch.

“The last time we played them it was very close-we won in overtime, so we knew we could beat them,” said the senior. “Coming into our gym we always play well, we had to keep our composure and we knew we could make a run.”

Mount Sinai seniors Justin Rinck netted 14 points and Nick Cergol banked 10.

The win lifts the Mustangs to 4-7 in League VI, 7-8 overall with five games remaining in regular season play.

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Smithtown East sophomore Carly Bigliani (R) battles down low in a league IV game against Central Islip Jan.17. Bill Landon photo

The Bulls of Smithtown East trailed by 6 at the halftime break, but visiting East Islip dropped the hammer the rest of the way, outscoring East by 22 points to put the game away 58-30 in a League IV matchup Jan. 17. 

Senior guard Katie Biglianni led Smithtown East in scoring with 8 points, her younger sister Carly, a sophomore, netted 6, as did freshman Ava Mueller. Paige Doherty, Briana Durland and Becky Hannwacker all scored.

East Islip remains undefeated in league play at 7-0 while the loss drops the Bulls to 1-6 with five games remaining. Smithtown East retook the court with a road game against Bellport Jan. 22, and lost 37 to 42.