ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury High School lost to graduation some very talented athletes in June, but school athletic director Stuart Mason is confident their replacements will step up this fall and continue the Gaels’ winning ways.
Mason is taking an optimistic “one door closes, another opens” approach, an attitude he said is supported by the pre-season effort he’s seeing. “Last year’s graduating senior class was one of the most decorated classes in athletics to ever come through Roxbury High School,” Mason said. “Last year was just an outstanding one for our athletic program, but I’m really excited about this year with the kids we have. They’ve really been working hard all summer long and are ready to go. They are going to be an exciting group.”
Among the fall sports stars to bid farewell to Roxbury in June mentioned by Mason was footballer Grant Dixon, volleyball ace Lauren Kornmann, soccer hotshot Deanna Graziani and 3-sport athlete Steven Loreng.
“With football, we graduated a lot of players, but our coaching staff does an excellent job preparing each team and the kids in this year’s program have worked incredibly hard,” Mason said. “I am excited to see them compete and we expect them to continue be one of the top teams in the area.”
Mason noted that all-conference gridiron star Tucker Voelbel, a running back and free safety “is a returning all-conference athlete and one of our top playmakers” who should help the Gaels secure victories on the football field. Mason also said quarterback and defensive back Donovan Brady, a junior, “has shown lot of leadership and is ready to do great things this year as well.”
On the girls volleyball court senior Reghan Palanchi “has really had an outstanding pre-season,” said Mason. The returning starter, now a senior, is poised to do some damage to Gaels’ competitors. “We expect her to be one of best athletes in the county and we expect our volleyball team to be competing for another county championship,” Mason said.
He said he is also excited about the prospects facing the girls tennis team, which should be buoyed by the return of Casey Hascup. “This will be the most competitive team we’ve had in years,” said the athletic director.
Returning to the boys soccer team will be Eric DiArminio, “one of last year’s top scorers” and Jason Rodriguez, “ who anchored the defense,” Mason said. And although the girls soccer squad lost Graziani, Mason said he is excited to see defender Jamie Irwin returning, now a senior.
“She should should keep the defense as strong as it was last year,” he said. “And we’re expecting goals to be scored from varsity returner Madison Martino - who scored a game-winning goal in the county championship last year. Ashley Serafin is also returning up top and we expect her to score a lot of goals as well.”
Mason believes the girls cross-country team will see great performances by sophomore Julia Herraiz. “We expect her to lead our cross-country team to be one of the best in the county again, Mason said.
Roxbury will have one of the largest boys cross-country teams ever, Mason said. The boys should be led by senior Elliot Matthieson who is “currently leading the pack of our runners and setting the pace,” Mason said.
A new press box is ready to help coaches and reporters see the on-field action this fall, Mason noted. But it’s the dedicated student-athletes that have him most really thrilled to be a part of the upcoming season.
“I cant stress enough how hard they’ve been working,” he said. “They’re great student-athletes- ... We talk about pre-season, but the preparation for this fall ended as soon as last fall was over.”