Sports

West Orange High School Sports Awards Highlight Outstanding Year

WOHS Athletic Director Ron Bligh, parents of Mackenzie Fitschen, Mackenzie's friend Sydney Squires, Principal Hayden Moore. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Athletic Director Ron Bligh, Bryce Millington, Bukola Akinsola, Principal Hayden Moore Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Principal Hayden Moore, retiring track coach Joe Picataggio, Ron Bligh. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ – There was a lot to celebrate at the annual West Orange High School (WOHS) Sports Awards Night held earlier this month. As WOHS Athletic Director Ron Bligh welcomed students, coaches and family, he noted the stellar sports year and list of major accomplishments:

  • Football SEC champs
  • Boys soccer runner up in state sectionals
  • Girls volleyball SEC champs (first time ever)
  • Cheerleading sectional, SEC and state champs; sixth place nationally
  • Girls basketball SEC champs, runner ups in Essex County Tournament (first time ever)
  • Girls swimming SEC and Essex County champs (first time ever)
  • Boys tennis SEC champs
  • Girls track and field second place Essex County relays, SEC champs
  • Boys track and field SEC champs 

Wrestler Victor Lopez broke the all-time wrestling wins records and boys lacrosse player Andrew DiPalma broke the all-time goal record as well.

Awards were given out to athletes in each sport as well as assistant coaches awards given to Mike Marini and Billy Bock. Superintendent Jeff Rutzky and West Orange Board of Education members Ron Charles and Mark Robertson were present to show their support for the sports program.

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An emotional high point of the evening came as the family of Mackenzie Fitschen, a member of the varsity cheerleading team who died in 2016 following a battle with a rare form of cancer, was recognized. Fitschen would have graduated this month.

The Cheerleading Mackenzie Fitschen Memorial Award was then given to co-captain Skyler Flesicher.

The WOHS Athletic Honor Roll awardees were Bryce Millington (soccer) and CJ Onyechi (football). In the most anticipated awards of the evening, Bukola Akinsola (track) and Bryce Millington (soccer and golf).

“This is a great group of young men and women,” said Bligh. “I know they will go on to do great things.”

The evening concluded with a tribute to track coach Joe “Coach Pic” Picataggio, who is retiring after 15 years at WOHS. Waving to his mentor Joe Suriano in the audience, he said, “Joe recruited me 15 years ago and I have loved every minute here.”

To see all the photos from Sports Awards Night, go here.

To see the complete list of award winners, go here.

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