2012-12-27 / News

Jamestowners among athletes who set records in 2012

BY MARGO SULLIVAN

Jamestown athletes continued their winning ways this year, competing for championships, setting records and even grabbing a share of Olympic gold. Jamestown also became a destination for spectators this summer when America’s Cup sailing returned to Newport, and Fort Wetherill provided a prime vantage point.

In women’s soccer, Tobin Heath, longtime summer resident, made her mark at the London Olympic Games. Heath, 24, is a member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, which won the gold medal in 2012. The midfielder also appeared in the Olympics four years earlier.

North Kingstown’s Elizabeth Beisel, who came away with a silver medal in the Olympic games, threw some limelight on highschool swimmers. Elizabeth was a star with the Skippers’ swim team, and her former teammates reveled in her success. The boys’ and girls’ swim teams were both runners-up in the state championship meet, finally losing to perennial favorite Bishop Hendricken.

Five Jamestown girls were on the team that went undefeated in the regular season. Jess Rudman, 17, was the team captain, and she was joined by Margot Janson, 16, Kelsey Brewster, 18, Isabel Crabtree, 15, and Hailey Cassidy, 14.

The boys’ team – which edged Barrington High to secure second place – had three islanders: Hailey’s twin, Robert Cassidy, 14, and 15-year-olds Rex Leonard and Ben Rudman.

Both teams came away with the 2012 sportsmanship award.

Meghann Maguire, 13, is too young for the Olympics, but she was on the field at Team USA’s training facility when the U.S. Olympic field hockey team was announced live on NBC television. Meghann is a member of Team USA’s Futures program, which selects the nation’s top players and puts them on the track to the top. She was among several elite young players invited to the ceremony.

Ian Hall, a Melrose Avenue School fourth-grader, also felt the Olympic connection this summer. Ian set a new national javelin record for his age on his first throw at an Amateur Athletic Union meet in Orlando, Fla., on July 12. His toss of 83 feet, 7 inches, broke the old mark by 6 inches. He hopes someday to compete in the Olympic games.

This summer he watched as family friend Craig Kinsley, a Brown University graduate, competed in the men’s javelin qualifying round. Ian and Kinsley plan to team up to talk to Rhode Island youth about javelin.

Over the winter, Josef Cohen, 13, qualified for the national fencing championship in Anaheim, Calif. Joe has been ranked nationally in his age group since he was 10.

In high-school sports, the boys’ outdoor track team captured the state championship.

The winter of 2012 became the season of exceeding expectations for student athletes at North Kingstown, starting with the Division I basketball programs. Both the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams made it to the elite eight in the state tournament.

For the first time in school history, the Skippers boys’ varsity basketball team became the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. The team accomplished another milestone during the regular season: According to coach Aaron Thomas, the 2012 squad was the first to defeat all four private schools on its schedule. Moreover, the team marched into the home court of Catholic powerhouse St. Raphael Academy and beat them. The Saints, for example, had been undefeated until the Skippers spoiled their perfect record. Ultimately, Rogers High dashed the Skippers’ hopes for a state title, handing them a loss in the quarterfinal round. But the team still turned in a “great season,” Thomas said. Jamestown’s Owen Heath came on strong in the second part of the season and had his best games in the playoffs. Owen has become the team’s starting center for this season. The team is undefeated in the early going, and the Skippers hope to finish the job they started a year ago and capture the state title.

The girls’ junior varsity team almost grabbed the 2011-12 state title, falling by five points to Bay View in a game played in the Bengals’ den. Jametowners Kristjana McCarthy and Roma Patel played in the JV tournament, and Kristjana also played on the girls’ varsity team, which lost in the quarterfinal round.

Kristjana, a junior, has worked her way up to become the varsity squad’s starting center this season, which just got underway. She could become the best center in the state, according to coach Bob Simeone.

North Kingstown marked another milestone with the inaugural season of the girls’ co-op hockey team. The girls didn’t have a winning record, but they did make it to the playoffs. Jamestown’s Amina Brown, then a junior, made the lineup.

The boys’ track teams also turned in memorable seasons. The JV and freshman squads took third place at the state championships, while the varsity squad finished in second out of 22 schools. Senior Mike Coleman won bronze in the 1,500-meter run, and Zachery Emrich, a sophomore, took silver in the 600-meter run.

The varsity team, which was division champ, won the injury fund meet for the first time in school history, edging out perennial pow- erhouse Hendricken. Jamestown’s Ben Stewart helped the effort, which carried over into the spring outdoor season. Ben is blazing a trail for the North Kingstown boys’ outdoor track team, according to Charles Breagy, the Skippers’ head coach.

“He’s our top guy,” Breagy said.

The girls’ team finished 11th out of 23 teams, thanks in big part to sophomore Maria Bolibruch’s efforts in the 55-meter hurdles. Maria won the prelims with a time of 8:68 seconds, and bested that in the finals with a time of 8:58, tops in the state.

The wrestling team had three grapplers finish in the top six in their respective weight classes. Justin Zeramby finished second in the 170-pound weight class, Connor Hayward was runner-up in the 126-pound weight class, and Greg Kervin at 145 pounds took sixth in the state tournament.

The boys’ ice hockey team had a rough year (1-10-1), but the Skippers ended the season on a high note with their first and only win, a 5-2 victory over Cranston West on the road. The team is back this season even though the school board cut the hockey program due to budget problems. The students and the parents raised the money to keep the program going.

As spring arrived, the Skippers continued their domination in sailing with help from a strong Jamestown contingent. Ten islanders made the roster, including Amina Brown, Emma Vogel, Rachel Bryer, Mason Kelly, Fiona Christie, Ryan Geib, Molly Sylvia, Hali Chesher, Hailey Cassidy and Islay Petrie. The North Kingstown sailing team captured the New England Schools Sailing Association’s Herreshoff Trophy held at the University of New Hampshire.

In October, the four team captains – including islanders Amina, Rachel and Fiona – traveled to New Orleans to represent the school in a national regatta. It was the fourth straight year the North Kingstown team qualified for the Great Oaks Invitational.

The boys’ JV tennis team fell just short of defending its title, losing 4-1 in the finals. The 11-man team – with only one freshman aboard – carried an undefeated season into the playoffs. They carried a 20-game winning streak into the state championship against rival South Kingstown. Jamestown’s Ben Lee and Finn Dwyer were part of the squad.

Jamestown student athletes also had an impact off the field. Jake Morris, a captain on the football team who also played tennis, was named the Bruce Brown Unsung Hero. According to varsity tennis coach Jacques Faulise, who nominated Jake for the prize, the unsung heroes aren’t the athletes who win all the time, they’re the ones who put their team first and always give their best. Jake, who became the No. 2 tennis player for the Skippers, won for his unselfi sh efforts and his perseverance through a lot of adversity, especially on the gridiron, said his coach. According to Faulise, Jake went out on the football field every week and “really took a beating” as the Skippers struggled to win a game in three rebuilding years.

This year, with first-year assistant coach Bill Piva, Jamestown’s recreation director, the team broke that losing streak.

Amina, along with participating on the sailing, tennis and hockey teams, was among 23 student athletes at North Kingstown helping break the stereotypes about athletes and drugs. As part of the local chapter of Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse, the varsity athletes spoke at the middle school to contradict the bad example some pro athletes are setting.

Several islanders competed in college sports in 2012.

Dan Hansen is a tennis player in the Division-I program at Drexel University in Philadelphia. A cancer survivor, he was the state’s top high-school tennis player for the past three years, according to Faulise, who coached Dan while he starred at North Kingstown.

Trevor Bobola, 19, worked his way into a key role with the Hamilton College men’s soccer team and was one of the reasons the Continentals were playoff bound, according to his coach, Perry Nizzi.

About 35 islanders participated in the Save the Bay Swim in 2012. Rita Hansen, Dan’s mother, who swam the course in 2010, made the 1.7-mile trek again this summer.

Tim Dwyer, 52, broke a rowing record with partner Eric McNett of Maine at the Blackburn Challenge in Gloucester, Mass. Neither Dwyer nor McNett is a stranger to winning on the water. On July 17, racing in a double surfski highperformance kayak, the duo paddled the 20-mile course in just under 2 hours, 31 minutes, to break the record for surfski doubles.

Carol Browning won a third gold medal in the Head of the Charles Regatta, competing in the over-50 fours race. Browning missed setting a new course record by 11 seconds.

In sailing, Jeff Urbina’s boat Bodacious Dream finished second overall in the Atlantic Cup competition, and Jim Bishop came in second in the IRC3 division at the eighth biennial New York Yacht Club Race Week.

Finally, youth sports lost a friend in 2012. Col. Mike Winkler, who coached Cal Ripken and middle-school baseball in Jamestown for years, stepped down. But before leaving, he helped with the transition, as Eric Bush took over at Lawn Avenue School and Steve Cirella became the recreational coach.

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