Verona High School’s spring sports teams weren’t going to be outdone by the teams that preceded them in the 2017-2018 school year. They finished strongly in their divisions, won championships, and broke records, including one that had stood for 44 years. Robert Merkler, VHS’ director of athletics and special programs, took at few minutes at the start of the June 12 Board of Education meeting to recap the highlights of boys tennis, softball, baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, and spring track and field. “It was again a very successful season for our spring athletes,” Merkler said, “as we captured a number of championships including division titles, sectional titles and a group Championship as well.”
Merkler noted that the boys tennis team advanced to the Quarterfinals of North 2 Group 1 State Sectional Playoffs, were the consolation bracket Runner-Ups at Essex County Tournament, and finished with an overall record of 7-15. Verona’s first singles player, Andrew Siegelin, and the doubles team of Max Batson and Henry Wertz were named 2nd Team All SEC Liberty Division. Henry Noren and Brian Feury were named Honorable Mention All-SEC Liberty Division.
The softball team finished with an 11-14 record in what Merkler called “the toughest conference in the state”. The team earned the No. 6 seed in the North 2 Group 2 State Tournament, where they made it to the sectional semifinals. Softball also made their first ever Essex County Tournament Semifinals at Ivy Hill Park. “Christina Colon had a dominant season,” Merkler said, “being named 1st team All-American Division. She struck out 238 batters this season for an average of 9.5 strikeouts per game.” Julia Rigney was named 2nd team All Division. while Mel Naeris and Jessie Loudon were both named Honorable Mention.
Merkler said that the boys lacrosse team, which graduated 10 seniors last year, “has a very bright future”. “They were a young team that steadily improved and finished 6-12,” he added. The highlight of the boys lacrosse team’s year was beating Columbia High School for the first time in VHS history. Matt Aldiero was named 1st team All-Liberty and All-Kimber Division while Jarrod Keating, Harrison Keating and Jack Lonsinger were named 2nd team All-Liberty Division. Jarrod and Harrison also received All Kimber Honors. Matt DiDia also earned Honorable Mention honors.
Girls lacrosse finished with a 10-8 record, which gave them second place in the Freedom South Division, and they advanced to the quarterfinals of both the county and state tournaments. Maggie Lonsinger, Maggie Ashley and CC Courter all earned 1st Team All Division Honors, Clara Frizzi and Lara Tole got 2nd Team All Division honors and Skyler Freedman earned Honorable Mention All Division. Courter was also selected to play in the state All-Star game this past weekend, and Courter and Ashley will both play at the collegiate level next year.
The baseball team finished 12-13 in the extremely competitive Liberty Division. They won their first round ECT Game and qualified for the state tournament as the #9 seed. “For the third year in a row, we were victorious in our rivalry game at Yogi Berra Stadium against Cedar Grove, 2-1,” Merkler said. Ian Metzger earned 1st Team All Liberty Division Honors while Anthony Zamloot and Steven Priscoe captured Honorable Mention honors.
The girls spring track & field team captured their second consecutive SEC Championship while also finishing undefeated in the dual meet season for the second straight year. They were named the top small school team at the Essex County Relays and also medalled at the Penn Relays. Verona’s sprint medley team of Olivia Fiore, Brianna Rigney, Alex Devivo and Kate Ashley set a new school record and won first place at the Essex County Relays. “Kate was again the state sectional champion in the 800m and we also had 12 girls qualify for the group championships,” Merkler said. “We had a number of girls make the All Conference teams, including Kate Ashley, Cianna Winkler, Olivia Fiore, Brianna Rigney, Alex DeVivo, Alex Holland, Erin Petrino, Julianna Spina, Carolyn Feely, Lily Benanchietti, Gabriella Petti and Krishma Parekh.
The Boys Track & Field Team finished 6-1 this season and took second at the SEC Championships for the Colonial Division. “Our 4 x 800 team of David Navarro, Mark Walsh, Jason Siegelin and Mike Maglione were state sectional champions, broke the school record, and placed 4th overall at the Group 1 Championships,” Merkler said. Isaac Skrivanic was the SEC Colonial Division Champion in both javelin and discus. Owen Fogarty was the SEC Colonial Division Champion and Essex County Champion in the pole vault, took second at the group championships, and broke a 44-year-old school record, clearing 14 feet. Skrivanic, Fogarty and Peter Farley all made 1st Team All Division, while Nick Giuliano made 2nd team. Jason Siegelin earned Honorable Mention honors.
Golf capped off Verona’s spring season by winning the North 2 Section 1 State Title for the first time in 19 years. The team also finished second in the conference with a 10-2 record, and second in the Liberty Division Conference Tournament. Jack Strippoli is the overall Group 1 individual State Champion.
“Over the past six seasons,” Merkler concluded, “our student athletes have won 10 Conference Championships, eight sectional titles, and three group titles.”
Also, before we go, we have a few special guests in the audience tonight: our spring state champions. When I announce you, please stand and remain standing:
-Kate Ashley, state champion in the 800
-David Navarro, Mark Walsh, Jason Siegelin and Mark Maglione, state champions in the 4 x 800
-members of our State Championship Golf Team-Tyler Jackson, Dan Gibson, Ethan Triggiano and Jack Strippoli
-Jack Strippoli, Our individual Group 1 State Champion in Golf