BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Ridge High School athletic performances and records made this spring season memorable while teams collected county, state and even national recognition along the way. The Red Devils brought home conference, state, county and Tournament of Champions honors, playing some of the best competition in New Jersey.
Whether it was the Ridge baseball team upping its season record for their best showing in a dozen years -- or the girls golf team and lacrosse teams repeating many of their successes from previous years -- spring athletes put in top performances, and team records for the history books. The girls' golf team swept all titles for the fourth year in a row, and broke a state record with the team's scores in the Tournament of Champions.
Ridge track runners competed and placed in a national competition in North Carolina in mid-June.
Ridge Red Devils baseball posted the team's best record (22-7) in the last 12 years. Along the way, the Devils took a division title, were finalists for the Somerset County Tournament and made the semi-finals of the North 2, Group 4 state tournament before closing out the season.
“It was a great team effort,” said Head Coach Tom Blackwell. “A lot of our success came from the depth of our lineup and pitching,” added Blackwell.
Seniors together since t-ball
“The twelve seniors have been together since we were in t-ball and it is hard to imagine that this was our last year on the field as a unit,” said senior pitcher Brian Jenkins. “Between coaches and players, this year's team was a family; the perfect way to wrap up four great years of Ridge baseball.”
The girls lacrosse team (19-4) had an outstanding season, taking home championships for the Skylands Conference, Somerset County and Group 4 North in 2014. Highlighted by a number of standout performances, scoring was led by Elizabeth Behrins (56), Mackenzie Bori (61) and Devon Brown (58). The team’s assist leaders were Behrins (39), Brown (37) and Hannah Quigley (32).
The “2014 team was one of the most talented and balanced teams I have ever coached,” said Head Coach Barbara Erickson. “We had a very challenging independent schedule this season as well. We played four of the top teams in the state in Moorestown, Mountain Lakes, Oak Knoll and Shawnee. I think playing those teams gave us the confidence we needed and prepared us for the challenges of the state tournament.”
“This season was the farthest we ever went winning the Group 4 North State Championship by beating number 1 ranked Ridgewood on their home turf,” added Erickson. “We also won the County Championship for the 3rd year in a row by beating rival Bridgewater and went undefeated in our conference to win our conference.”
“Coming into this season as a senior and captain I had high expectations because of all the talent that was on our team,” said senior attack Hannah Quigley. “This season meant so much because of the bond that everyone shared on and off the field, we truly were one team, and I am proud of what we accomplished this year together.”
The boys lacrosse team (14-5) had another solid season, again capturing the Somerset County Championship with a huge win over Immaculata. Coming off their 2013 Tournament of Champions victory, this season the Devils fell in the semi-finals of the Group 4 state tournament. Ridge can claim two U.S. Lacrosse All Americans this year in Owen Molloy and JT Palladino. Molloy would also be honored with the Dietrich vonSchwerdtner Award (Goalie of the Year) by the New Jersey Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association of US Lacrosse.
Leading the team offensively was Palladino, whose career 250 goals set a new scoring record at Ridge. “Setting the record this year was a great milestone for me,” said Palladino. “Over the past four years, I have worked to get where I am today and I am grateful that my mark will be made on the program's history.”
“Our team did a very good job this year following our 2013 TOC championship,” said Head Coach Kenneth Marsh. “We were able to defend our Somerset County title, which was a big accomplishment considering we had to avenge two losses earlier in the season.”
The girls golf team had another amazing year, again winning honors as Somerset County, Skylands, NJ state section champions. Most impressively, the Ridge girls won the Tournament of Champions, a tournament of just the state’s sectional winners – the best of the best - for the fourth year in a row. In the process, they broke a state record when the entire team posted scores in the 70’s.
“The kids are extremely resilient,” said Coach Siobhan Devlin. “We lost half our team from last year. I told them if they worked very hard through the off season and tried to do their best each day that we would have a shot.”
“Coach (Devlin) motivated us to begin working in December,” said Christine Wang. “We were told to make commitments and not excuses. By making those commitments, we were able to reach our potential. We really motivated each other on the course; we knew were all in this together. As much as we wanted to win, it was an honor to be on the Ridge golf team.”
In additional to a successful season, the highlights of the Ridge track team for 2014 must be the falling of numerous records and successes at the national championships. Competing in the New Balance National Outdoor Track Championships in Greensboro, N.C., Ridge was represented in two running events and the pole vault. Four athletes, Danny Phillips, Andrew Claps, Conor Collins and Nick Giannone competed in the 4 x 200 relay placing 15th. Placing fifth in the 1600-meter sprint medley relay was the team of Conor Collins, Alex Schrader, Danny Phillip, and Andrew McGowan. The team ran the event in 3:34.79.
Nick Giannone also competed in the pole vault, placing fourth with a jump of 14.8.23 feet. Giannone also holds the Ridge record with a height of 15 feet.
The Ridge boys volleyball team completed the 2014 season with a 19-8 record and a trip to the North 2 semi-finals in the state tournament. They would climb to rank No. 13 in the NJ.com's Top 20.