By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Now that the NJSIAA wrestling championships have been completed, it means that the local winter sports season has come to an end.
While the season didn’t produce any state championships locally, it certainly provided its fair share of memorable moments, events that have to be mentioned once again here.
It’s hard to forget the high-flying exploits of the talented Rozalski sisters of Queen of Peace, namely senior Michele and sophomore Kas, who both earned medals at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions a few weeks ago.
Queen of Peace doesn’t have an indoor track team, except for the talented pole vault tandem from Kearny. They also recently earned All-Bergen County honors for their exploits, with Michele garnering First Team and Kas getting Second Team.
It takes a lot of dedication and determination to become so successful in a sport where they are the only two participants from their school. The Rozalski sisters will be remembered for achieving state-wide greatness in the pole vault.
How about the Nutley hockey team?
The Maroon Raiders, under the guidance of coach Eric Puzio, posted a 17-5-3 record, the best mark in recent memory. Puzio has done a masterful job putting the Nutley program on the New Jersey map, as players Dave Fierro (28 goals) and goalkeeper Alec Astorga (.950 save percentage) were among the very best players in the Garden State.
Nutley returns a good portion of this year’s team next season, so count on the Maroon Raiders to be a force on the ice once again next year.
Also in hockey, Paramus Catholic won 27 games and went all the way to the semifinals of the Non-Public state tourney, thanks to seven players from Lyndhurst, including Derek Sabato, Dan Sowinski and Domenick Sellari. The Paladins have cornered the market in southern Bergen County players, especially Lyndhurst.
The Harrison girls’ basketball team posted a 16-11 record, a very respectable mark considering the Blue Tide plays in the roughand- tumble world of the NJIC-Meadowlands Division. Coach Al Ruiz, with assistance from Harrison’s main native son Ray Lucas, made the Blue Tide a tough team to face, thanks to the exploits of Rayven Lucas and Sarai Rivera.
The Kearny girls, who were featured in last week’s editions, won 14 games under Jody Hill’s tutelage. That was an impressive total considering that the Kardinals had lost all five starters from the previous year.
Nutley, under the watchful eye of former Seton Hall great Dana Wynne, posted a 16-8 record and defeated Colonia in the first round, before taking perennial state powerhouse Mendham to the limit in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III playoffs.
Blair Watson and Grace Montgomery were the top two standouts for the Maroon Raiders.
Lyndhurst, with coach Perrin Mosca leading the way, posted an 18-10 record, the program’s highest win total in several years. The Golden Bears were contending for a league crown until the final games of the regular season, led by senior Camila Alonso, who set a new school single game scoring record by totaling 46 points in one game.
Alonso also joined the 1,000-point club when she reached the milestone toward the end of the season, a fine achievement considering Alonso played a little more than two-and-a-half years of varsity basketball with the Golden Bears.
North Arlington’s Bri Cunanan developed into one of the finest point guards in the area and had several games where she eclipsed 20 points.
In boys’ basketball, the Golden Bears of Lyndhurst won 13 games and was a competitive squad for most of the season. Coach Jeff Radigan had veteran Kyle Pollio to lead the way.
Coach Tom McGuire’s Golden Griffins of Queen of Peace didn’t turn out to be as solid as the young coach had hoped to be during the preseason, but McGuire’s young team did get solid inside play from senior Bobby Keegan. North Arlington also struggled, suffering huge injuries throughout the course of the season. Coach Dave Walsh managed to lead the Vikings to eight wins, thanks to the efforts of steady players like Jeff Frytek and Julian Ortiz.
And there is no way to overlook the efforts of Kearny’s Dylan Hoch, who also eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone this season while lighting the nets afire with a school record 49-point performance one game against McNair Academic. Coach Bill Schoener made some positive strides in his first season with the Kardinals.
In bowling, Lyndhurst won its third NJSIAA state sectional championship in the last four years, thanks to the exploits of the Lopez siblings, senior Lexus and sophomore Jordan, who bowled a perfect game of 300 en route to the Bergen County championship.
Will Blanco, a Kearny resident who attends St. Peter’s Prep, won the Hudson County bowling championship for a second straight year.
Molly Howell of Kearny High School won the Hudson County girls’ bowling championship, a first for Kearny.
In wrestling, Nutley won the Essex County Tournament and District 14 championship for the second straight year and finished second at the Region 4. It was another great season for coach Frank DiPiano and the Maroon Raiders, who are establishing themselves as one of the best programs in northern New Jersey.
In swimming, the Kearny boys’ team achieved its best season in several years, finishing second in the Hudson County public schools tournament and fourth in the county overall, led by Matt Amar and Adam Coppola.
All in all, it was a fine winter sports season locally. Now, it’s time to move on to the spring. Can the snow melt any faster?