Elk County Catholic High School held its 2011-2012 Winter Athletic Awards Program on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in the school's auditorium.
Campus Minister Ross Miceli provided the invocation for the event; Elk County Catholic High School Athletic Association President Chris Schneider gave the official welcome; Principal Sandy Florig offered a brief overview of the evening's program, congratualting the student-athletes on another great winter sports season; and Athletic Director Aaron Straub acknowledged all of the individuals and organizations who contributed to the successful winter sports season.
The first order of business for the evening was the presentation of certificates for three-year letter winners. This year's 12 three-year letter winners were cheerleaders Joanne Aiello, Marissa Armstrong, Maria Gismondi, and Ashley Seelye; swimmers Maura Keyes, Jeff Moore, and Kylee Produfit; wrestler Joe McLaughlin; girls' basketball players Lexie Meholic, Abbi Petrosky, and Jena Struble; and gymnast Abby Wittman.
Seven four-year letter winner plaques were also presented. Recipients were cheerleaders Brittany Auman, Shelby Gorman, Kathleen Kneidel, Jodi Meyer, and Erica Wehler; and swimmers Andrew Cotter, Alex Renwick, and Ryan Struble.
Letter jackets were presented to senior Kevin Kraus; junior Mitchell Vallone; sophomores Morgan Geyer, Jordan Lenox, and Mackenzie Neureiter; and freshmen Nicole Florio, Marissa Heary, and Julia Sweeney.
The program was divided into two parts, with the coaches from swimming and diving, wrestling, and gymnastics, all of which are cooperative programs with St. Marys Area High School, as well as junior high volleyball, addressing the audience first. Following a brief intermission, the boys' and girls' basketball coaches and cheerleading coach had their turn at the podium.
"This is our fourteenth year of competing in swimming and our eleventh year competing in wrestling and gymnastics," Straub said. "We are very grateful to the administration of St. Marys Area for sponsoring this cooperative arrangement and proud to be a part of the teams from St. Marys Area."
First to the stage was St. Marys Area swimming and diving coach Mark DeMuro, who noted that it was "an eventful, challenging year."
"I'm extremely proud of this team. We had a lot to overcome this year," DeMuro said. "We have a number of seniors graduating-- 13, I believe. We have two exchange students. So it's going to be an interesting year next year."
DeMuro added that his team met most of their goals this year.
"Our girls' team had a really fine season, better than most of us had hoped for, I think. The girls finished their season with a 5-4 record, a winning record, and they did this by coming back and beating a team that had beaten them previously earlier in the season, which takes a lot of effort, a lot of guts, and a lot of determination to do," he said.
He also lauded the accomplishments of Emma Daghir and Kylee Proudfit, both of whom broke long-standing team records this season.
"The boys also had a strong season. They were District 9 champions, going undefeated during the regular season and winning the league championship meet," DeMuro said.
DeMuro also acknowledged his assistant coaches, Mary Secco, Travis Secco, and Eric Wonderling, for their contributions to the team this year.
Varsity letters were presented to the following members of the team: Andrew Cotter, Alex Renwick, Maura Keyes, Jeffery Moore, Kylee Proudfit, Emma Daghir, Joey Ferragine, Corey Koss, Nathan Koss, and Maxim Struble.
Recipients of the P. Denny Hetrick Memorial Award were Alex Renwick and Ryan Struble.
Plaques were also presented to members of the boys' 400-yard freestyle relay to acknowledge the team setting a new record of 3:21.26. Members of the relay were Corey Koss, Jeffrey Moore, Andrew Cotter, and Matt Hoffman. Swimmers who set new individual records also received plaques. Kylee Proudfit set a new record in the girls' 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:11.19, Emma Daghir set a new record in the girls' 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.44, and Andrew Cotter set a new record in the boys' 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 58.77. Proudfit and Daghir were named co-MVPs for the girls' squad, while Cotter was MVP for the boys' team.
Next up was St. Marys Area wrestling head coach Dom Surra. This year's wrestling team finished with a 7-8 record and was the runner-up for the D9 AAA team title.
Surra first acknowledged his assistant coaches, Bill and Josh Meyer, as well as all of the other individuals who helped support the team throughout the season.
"This season was a really interesting season for us," Surra said. "We were very young, and at times we had eight weight classes that were either freshmen or sophomores and so we had some trials that we had to go through."
Three ECC students are on the SMA squad, and Surra praised each of them for contributing to the success of this year's squad.
Joe McLaughlin was the lone letter winner from ECC. A junior, McLaughlin won his second consecutive D9 title this season.
"There are some really good wrestlers that have gone through our program, and Joey is quietly turning himself into one of these really good wrestlers and we're going to expect a lot out of him next year," Surra said.
In addition to McLaughlin, freshman Josh Zelinski also wrestled for the Dutch as a member of the junior varsity wrestling team.
Junior Dan Snelick also was a member of the team, though he was unable to compete due to an injury.
"Dan, as we all know, has been battling these knee injuries here, which is really unfortunate, but Dan really played a big role in our team. Even though he hasn't done much wrestling in the room, he's been there almost as a coach and a mentor for some of our young kids," Surra said.
Surra noted that he already presented the team's MVP award during St. Marys Area's winter sports awards program, stating that this year's recipient was SMA senior Evan Smith.
St. Marys Area gymnastics coach Irene McCandless also began by acknowledging her assistant coach, Mary Lynne Bellotti. She also stated that the team had a "very good season," finishing with a 4-4 record and a third-place finish at the league championship meet, a second-place finish at the state team championship meet, and ended up with 13 medals at the state individual championships.
"We also had two state champions, one of which is here tonight, and that would be Mackenzie Neureiter," McCandless said.
She presented Neureiter with a plaque which will be displayed in one of the school's trophy cases.
Letter winners on this year's gymnastics squad were senior Michaela Sorg; junior Abby Wittman; sophomore Mackenzie Neureiter; and freshmen Cheyenne Bothun, Nicole Florio, Madison Quesenberry, and Jessica Tettis.
Co-MVPs for this year's team were Mackenzie Neureiter and Michaela Sorg. Nicole Florio was named Rookie of the Year.
Concluding the first half of the program, junior high volleyball head coach Danielle Fledderman talked about the 7th and 8th grade squads' seasons.
"This year was a little different for us in that we had just a total of 23 girls in the two squads - eight seventh graders and 15 eighth graders. In past years, we've sometimes had 23 girls on both squads, making for a very crowded gym," Fledderman said.
She added that she and head coach Chrissie Schneider and assistant coaches Lynne Childs and Mary Ellen Hawkins were pleased with the teams' seasons, which she noted were "very successful on both grade levels."
Members of the eighth grade team were Rae Ann Bucher, Danielle DeLullo, Mackenzie Gahr, Abbey Gerg, Sydney Hoffman, Emily Kamats, Kali Ann Kirst, Lexi Knight, Mary Kraus, Emily O'Neill, Allegra Schloder, Elise Stebick, Sophia Viglione, Stacie Werneth, and Hannah Wittman. The seventh grade squad consisted of Cassidy Cunningham, Kara Detsch, Emily Evers, Jordyn Fox, Rachel Herbstritt, Reilly Herzing, Ramsey Struble, and Lauryn Wortman.
Following a brief intermission, Straub addressed attendees regarding the school's boys' basketball program.
Straub started off by introducing members of the junior high boys' basketball team, who finished their season with a 19-3 record under head coach Tony Breindel and assistant coach Wee J. Fernan. Members of this year's squad were Austin Amacher, Drew Bille, Jonathan Dippold, Ian Herzing, John Kaul, Aaron Meier, Drew Meyer, Austin Minard, Peter Riddle, Ryan Seelye, Dan Singer, Mitchell Smith, Mitchell Struble, Joe Tamburlin, and Tom Wolfe.
Next up was the junior varsity, who finished their season with an 18-4 record under head coach Mike Buchheit and assistant coaches Dave Bosnik, AJ Straub, and Marty Timm. Members of the junior varsity team were Andrew Gebauer, Cory Huff, Vincent Jacob, Matt Jerko, Luke Kraus, Colton Lecker, Ben Reuscher, Elliott Struble, Nick Werner, and Ivan Wortman.
The varsity squad finished with a 16-12 record under head coach Aaron Straub and assistant coaches Jude Hoffman and Doug Straub. The team was made up of letter winners Michael Jacob, Kevin Kraus, Ben Wortman, Hank Cappiello, Devin Constable, Brock McCullough, Alex Herzing, Clayton Housler, Mitchell Vallone, and Brandon Schlimm, along with Ben Cortina, Mitchell Gahr, Shea Meyer, and Mitchell O'Neill.
The MVP award was presented to junior Clayton Housler.
In discussing the program's future, Straub remarked that he had both good news and bad news.
"The bad news is, instead of talking about how to compete for a state championship, we need to find a way to compete with the other three teams in our own county before we can think of a trip to the state tournament. This year we played the Elk County teams nine times. Our record against the county teams was 2-9. First, you might say that's not very good, and certainly the record isn't, but the teams in our county were very strong this year. We lost to Johnsonburg four times. They have four starters back for next year. We lost to Ridgway two times, and they have four of their top seven back, and we split with St. Marys. So that's the bad news," Straub said. "The good news is, on the other hand, that the road to success at the league level and the district level, and as you saw a couple days ago, at the state level, goes through the County of Elk, as again next year we will have probably three of the finest teams in the entire state right in our county."
Ken Pistner, varsity girls' basketball head coach, was the next to take the stage. He began by acknowledging the efforts of his assistant coaches Dave Geci and Alec Pistner, as well as junior varsity head coach Ann Florio and junior varsity assistant coaches Alli Dellaquila and Maureen Newell.
This year's junior varsity team was made up of Hayley DaCanal, Michaela Cashmer, Maria Scacchitti, Marla Scacchitti, Chiara Genevro, Rachel Stauffer, Renee Buchheit, Erin Petrosky, Hannah Onink, Sam Zimmerman, Nicole Schneider, Maddy Schneider, Kirstie Wehler, Sierra Meyer, and Ellie Pearson.
The varsity team ended their season with a 24-5 record. Letter winners for the team were seniors Lexie Meholic, Abbi Petrosky, Jena Struble, and Maggie Sorg; juniors Taylor DaCanal, Kristy Hanes, Michelle Imbrogno, Morgan Onink, Kayla Weis, and Stephanie Zimmerman; and freshmen Macy Neureiter and Julia Sweeney.
The Coaches Award was presented to Jena Struble, while Lexie Meholic and Abbi Petrosky were both named co-MVPs.
"The strength of this year's team, as has been the case for the past couple years, was on the defensive side of the ball. They limited the opposition to only 31 points a game, and that's quite a feat, which was the fewest in the entire district for, I think, the third year in a row. They averaged 46 points a game. We also had great play from our bench this year, as all 12 of these players lettered," Pistner said. "I've been coaching for 10 years at the varsity level, and no team has had better team chemistry, and the chemistry is vital to having a successful season."
The final coach to speak during the program was Marlene Stubber, varsity advisor for the winter cheerleading and competition cheerleading squads. Stubber was assisted this year by Frankie Stubber and Irene McCandless, as well as junior varsity advisor Becky Mahoney.
"The winter season is a very busy one for these girls, as each week is full of practice sessions, games to cheer, and competitions to attend," Stubber said. "Our cheerleading squad cheers for four basketball teams: junior varsity and varsity girls, and junior varsity and varsity boys. We cheer for all home games, in-county away games, and all playoff games, so that makes for a lot of basketball. We're lucky to have such good teams here at ECC because that makes it fun to cheer them on. This team has done a fine job of representing our school and supporting our teams."
Letter winners for this year's squad were seniors Marissa Armstrong, Brittany Auman, Shelby Gorman, Kathleen Kneidel, Jodi Meyer, Ashley Seelye, and Erica Wehler; juniors Joanne Aiello, Marisa Cunningham, Maria Gismondi, and Katie Pearson; sophomores Morgan Geyer, Jordan Lenox, Emily Bush, Ashley Gerg, Alex Imbrogno, Leah Kucenski, and Allison Perryman; and freshmen Shaina Gorman, Marissa Heary, Hannah Schneider, and Sydnie Stauffer. Also on the winter cheerleading team was senior Sara Kucenski.
The Coaches Award was presented to Kathleen Kneidel. Brittany Auman received the Team Spirit Award, and the Leadership Award went to Erica Wehler. The Linda Bolden Memorial Award was presented to Shelby Gorman.
A brief social was held in the foyer following the conclusion of the evening's program.