CLARK, NJ-  The Crusader winter sports teams came together Monday night at the Arthur L. Johnson High School to recognize the student-athletes for their hard work and dedication throughout the season. Over 180 varsity letters were handed out during the evening, including 24 four-year gold letters, indicating an athlete had played that sport throughout their entire high school career.  The awards illuminated the students’ daily commitment and drive.

“It gives a great sense of pride and accomplishment to see how well-rounded our student-athletes are,” Athletic Director Gus Kalikas said. “You have young men and women going to Ivy League schools, academies, [or] the Marines to serve our country. In addition to all the hard work they’ve put in on our floors and mats, as citizens, they’re good kids. So, it’s a sense of pride seeing our student-athletes have such success.”

The bowling team, led by head coach Michele Zaleski, finished with a 7-8 record in the conference, where they finished in seventh place. They also finished No. 2 as a team, in the North 2, Section 2 division, and they placed fourth place in the Group 2 State Finals. Seniors on this year’s team were Jason Chesnowski and Richard Risko.

Sign Up for E-News

The cheerleading team, led by head coach Lindsey Barrett, had eight seniors who earned four-year gold letter awards. They were DeAnna Bove, Alexandria Ianco, Jenna Koppel, Danielle Marzano, Caitlyn Moran, Jessie Riddlestroffer, Jessica Sbarro, and Jessica Zambrana.

In addition, the cheerleading team was the winner of the Crusader GPA Award, which is given to the team that finished with the highest overall GPA. As a team, the overall grade-point-average was 3.9226.  Each team member received a certificate; the team will be memorialized on a plaque, and will attend a “Breakfast with the Athletic Director.”

Track & field athletes, led by head coaches Chris Marcin and Steve Barry, competed in championship-level meets and hosted Johnson’s first shot-put invitational meet. Throughout the season, the sprinters, distance runners, jumpers, and throwers placed in multiple events and performed well in the county and state levels. The girls’ shot-put team won the Union County Championship title, winning gold medal as the championship season began.

Two juniors, shot-putter Rachael Johnson and high-jumper Caroline Buczynski, participated in the Meet of Champions and were named to the third team of the All-County Honors.

Several players on the ice hockey team were recognized for career-highs in goals, assists, and saves. Seniors Brett McCabe and captain James Wagner received four-year gold letters.

All-County honors went to Wagner, named to the First-Team, All Union County Defense; sophomore Jack Lomeli, named Honorable Mention All Union County Forward; and junior Nico DeMarzo named Second-Team, All Union County Goalie.

The Johnson Swim Team had an exceptional season, finishing with an 8-0 record, the first undefeated season in program history. The team ranked third in Union County. Fifteen seniors were on this year’s team, the most the program has had in years.

Senior Mazem Ibrahim, who was named the team MVP, will continue his swimming career at Cornell University. Other seniors on the team were Mackenzie Banta, Louis Cacchione, Michael Fuschetto, Emily Green, Jordyn Janusz, Adriana Kidon, David Luis, Jake Manuelian, Magda Mickiewicz, Conrad Ozarek, Drew Russo, Kelly Sweeney, A.J. Tedesco, and Justin Veltre.

“I love to see the students receive the recognition they deserve,” Johnson varsity swim team head coach Bob Cahill said. “I’m usually not really surprised because we have such good kids. When I hear their names, I say, ‘Absolutely, absolutely.’ Our team is so close, and having gone 8-0 this season, they all supported each other. If I could, we’d give awards for all of them to be MVP.”

The wrestling team, with seven graduating seniors, had success during the 2014-2015 season. The seniors are Michael Basso, Matthew Diorio, Andrew Lamiera, Jacob Lopez, Zack Palmer, Brandon Pizzarelli, and Sean Quigley.

Freshman Christopher Fuschetto broke the record for the most wins as a freshmen, with 34 victories. Looking ahead and barring injury, junior Kyle Gregorio is close to breaking the school record for wins next year.

The girls’ basketball team had an impressive season, finishing with a 14-11 record, including victories in the Union County Tournament First Round, and  the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 state tournament first round. The seniors on this year’s team were co-captains Christina Bonaccorso and Lauren Beck.

The boys’ basketball team, in a major turnaround, finished the season with a 12-12 record and bettered last year’s win total by nine. They appeared in the state tournament for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.  Co-captains Trevor McSorley and Dan O’Donnell are seniors, as are Alan Nivar and Andrew Schurtz.

“It’s nice to be recognized, not just myself, but everybody, especially the [boys] basketball team,” O’Donnell said. “Nine plus wins, Andrew Schurtz had a great year defensively, Trevor McSorley did a lot of great things for this team as a leader, and Alan Nivar was there, supporting us the entire way. So, for the basketball team, it’s very satisfying.”

The Best Teammate Award is given to one student-athlete from each team who best fits the characteristics of a good teammate: upbeat attitude, outstanding character, promotes team unity, supports  each teammate and influences the culture of the team in a positive manner. Winners of the Best Teammate Award were:

·         Trevor McSorley (senior) – Boys Basketball

·         Sabrina Parin (sophomore) - Girls Basketball

·         Andrew Lamiera (senior) – Wrestling

·         Dylan McCabe (senior) - Ice Hockey

·         Zack Hofschneider  (senior) - Boys Track & Field

·         Gianna Randazza (sophomore) - Girls Track & Field

·         Richard Risko (senior) – Bowling

·         Jordyn Janusz (senior) – Swimming

·         Alexandria Ianco (senior) - Cheerleading

The event concluded with the announcement of each Most Valuable Player from each winter sports team. They were:

·         George Visconti (freshman) – Boys Basketball

·         Lauren Beck (senior) – Girls Basketball

·         Christopher Fuschetto (freshman) – Wrestling

·         James Wagner (senior) - Ice Hockey

·         Lucas Gallo (senior) – Boys Track & Field

·         Racheal Johnson (junior) - Girls Track & Field

·         Mazen Ibrahim (senior) – Swimming

·         Nicholas DiGeronimo (junior) – Bowling

·         Jessica Sbarro (senior) - Cheerleading

“It just feels really great,” Visconti said. “We put in a lot of hard work, and I did too, and it just feels really nice to receive the benefit from the hard work.”

The Student Athlete Award is presented each season to a student athlete who is a champion both on the field and in the classroom.  The 2014-2015 ALJ Winter Student Athlete was presented to senior cheerleader Danielle Marzano.