PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Nine more Piscataway High School senior student-athletes signed on the dotted line to play their sport in college during a ceremony inside the library on Tuesday morning.
Track and field’s Lorenzo Bowers (Holy Family University) and Jadyn Terry (Rider), field hockey’s Zharria John (University of New Haven), boys soccer’s Juwan Ash (Rutgers-Newark), girls basketball’s Saniya Myers (Montclair State University), and football’s Nick Recine (East Stroudsburg), Nasir Best (Millersville University), and David Greene (Wilkes University) are all moving on to compete at the next level.
“This is another great day for our student-athletes. It makes me proud as an athletic director,” PHS athletic director Rob Harmer said. “We now have had 25 this year who have signed to go play at the next level. There’s about five or six more that are on the bubble.
“This is one day in your life that you’re never going to get back. It’s a great opportunity. Three to five percent of athletes go on to play at the next level. Consider yourself very fortunate. A lot of that comes from the hard work and dedication you’ve put in.”
PHS principal Jason Lester joked that he was suspending the signees because nobody gave him a new hat from their institution. He also emphasized the importance of academics to the students.
“It’s always a pleasure to speak at these events. I’m deeply proud of these young people. I’ve seen both sides of the table as a parent and former athlete and this is a unique opportunity to move on to play sports at the college level,” Lester said. “I want to press that you must be a student first. What you did on the field allowed you to get recognized but what you did in the classroom made it possible and I want you to fully understand that.”
This outdoor spring season, Bowers already has new personal records in the 400-meter dash, 300 hurdles, and 400 hurdles. In the winter, he set indoor personal bests in the 55 hurdles, the 800, and the 400 and helped the Chiefs to the win in the 4x400 relay at the Group 4 relay championships in December with a time of 3:36.92 minutes.
Terry also already has new personal records this spring in the 400, 300 hurdles, and high jump. During the winter, he broke his bests in the 400, 800, 55 hurdles, and the high jump. He also participated in the Meet of Champions.
Bowers and Terry were both named to the All-Greater Middlesex Conference team for their performances as part of the 4x400 relay team.
“Lorenzo established himself as one of the better, longer sprinters and hurdlers in the county. He blossomed and is very competitive and is definitely why we were Group 4 relay champions. I wish him well,” Piscataway track and field coach Pete Buccino said.
“Jadyn has hands down established himself as the most versatile track athlete in the Middlesex County. There’s not an event that he can’t or isn’t willing to do. When the stakes are higher, he elevates his game. Rider is getting a gift. You’ll see that next year,” said Buccino.
John was an All-Conference pick a year as she helped lead the Lady Chiefs to the semifinals of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 state tournament this past fall.
She picked up field hockey as a junior and ran with it.
“Zharria actually started off in soccer her first two years and that shows the kind of athlete she is. When she came over for her junior year, she made an immediate impact. She helped change the dynamic of our team,” PHS field hockey coach Cynthia Botett said. “I always kept telling her, ‘Where were you for the first two years’? We went further in our season this year than we had in 18 years and much of that was because of the group of seniors we had. I wish her tremendous success.”
Bender has a hit in all but three games so far for the Chiefs on the diamond this season. He has eight hits, including a home run, six RBI, four walks and has scored five times (stats from NJ.com).
And while Bender is a fine player, his efforts off the field and in the locker room is where he shines.
“Coach (Nick) McKee couldn’t be here so I’m going to say a few words. Right off the bat, I knew Cam was a good competitor and awesome teammate,” Piscataway baseball assistant Dan Barletta said. “A great story about Cam is during a youth baseball day, we encourage our guys to go out there a talk to them and teach them about baseball and our guys were a little scared except for Cam. Cam was right out there talking to them and teaching them and talking to the coaches. That sums up how much he loves baseball.”
PHS boys soccer went 11-9 in the fall of 2018 and while Ash tallied just two goals and five assists, his work in the midfield didn’t go unnoticed.
“Coach (Dave) Hilgert couldn’t be here. His wife just had a baby. It’s quite an honor for everyone up here. You’ll enjoy this and remember it forever,” Piscataway soccer assistant Brian Tuskan said. “Juwan is one of my favorite players that I’ve ever coached and I coach three sports and have been doing it for 18 years. As a soccer player, he did an outstanding job in the midfield. A lot of times, midfielders don’t get a lot of stats, but he was really important for winning the ball back. He’s one of the better players that I’ve seen during my time here and Rutgers-Newark is getting a good player, hard worker, and true leaders. I expect big things from him.”
Myers led a very young Lady Chiefs squad on the hardwood in 2018-19. She registered 11.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks-per-game. She finished with 285 total points, 215 boards, and 29 blocks.
Myers was critical in Piscataway’s GMCT title last year.
“We’ve had a lot of really good girls basketball players the last 15 seasons, but my favorite story might be Saniya’s,” Coach Chris Puder said. “She was thinking for her senior year ‘do I play or not play’. She gets into Montclair State academically and she reached out to the coaches and they came to see her play. That night, they said they wanted Saniya Myers. We had an inexperienced team this year and she led them. I wish you nothing but the best and you’ll be missed at Piscataway High School.”
Last but not least, Recine, Best, and Greene were vital parts of the football team that went 13-0 and was both the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 champs and the overall Group 5 Bowl Game champs.
“Congratulations. This is a proud day for all of us especially for us in the football world. These three made seven guys who are signing from the team,” PHS head football coach Dan Higgins said. “We knew we were talented but we didn’t know what the threshold would be. I think the one thing that put us over the top was the academic piece. All of these players were not only outstanding football players but outstanding in the classroom. They had discipline and habits. Football has changed a lot since I played and even since I started coaching. When you get to a game, you don’t necessarily see everything you watch on film anymore. It’s a matter of being able to adjust, make calls, and being smart on the field. Meanwhile you’re trying to knock someone on their butt. It’s not easy, but because of our IQ, this is probably one of most dominating teams of all time.”
“With that being said, we’re going to miss these guys tremendously,” said Higgins.
Recine, who is also a standout wrestler, was the heart and soul of the Chiefs’ defense as the middle linebacker. He racked up 124 tackles including 40 for a loss, with 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and an interception. He also added 21 carries for 217 and four touchdowns at fullback when he wasn’t blocking.
“This guy right here is the second of two All-State linebackers from the Recine family,” Higgins said. “He’s a tough and athletic guy, but he also worked hard and study film like crazy to know what’s going on. On top of that, he got on the mat and was a force as a multi-sport athlete. I love that. He ran the defense. He knew what they were going to run before they ran. He called it out and then he made the play. He had over 100 tackles this season and I think East Stroudsburg is a great fit and he’ll compete there. He’s going to bring some Chiefs pride to that program and do some good things. I’m proud of him.”
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