Winter Sports Successful for Hanover Park and Whippany High Schools

By Steve Sears

Sports fans for both Hanover Park and Whippany High Schools cheered their teams on to much success during the 2018-2019 winter sports season.

The Boys Basketball team for Hanover Park High School is 14-10 as of this writing, earning the 6th seed in the Group 2 State Tournament, which began on February 25th when the team hosted Lyndhurst High School. The club also earned a top 8 seed in the Morris County Tournament, and this season had several big wins over DePaul Catholic, Montville, Passaic County Technical Institute, and Morris Catholic.  The team is led by Senior Alex Malofienko, who scored his 1,000th point vs. PCTI on Saturday, February 23rd.

The Girls Basketball team also has enjoyed success, sporting a record 18-4 and currently the #2 seed in the Group 2 

State Tournament.  This year’s squad has earned a share of the NJAC Conference title and made it to the semifinals of the Morris County tournament. Key triumphs thus far this year were over Morristown Beard, Morris Catholic, West Essex, and Bernards.  The girls are led by leading scorers Senior Kelsey Stites and Junior Brielle Junda, and Megan Macaluso is one of Morris County’s leading rebounders. The team hosted to Newark Central in round one round of the State tournament on Monday, February 25th.

The Hanover Park High wrestling sent 5 wrestlers to Atlantic City to compete in the individual State Championships on February 28th-March 2nd. Jake Busese (120lb weight class), Joey Olivieri (126lbs), Nick Raimo (132lbs), Dom DiFrancescantonio (138lbs), and Gianluca Birnbaum (182lbs) all trekked south down the Garden State Parkway to wrestle the best in the Garden State.

The Hanover Park Regional Varsity Ice Hockey team made it to the Haas Cup Final in 2018. For the 2018—2019 season, the team competed in the 9-team Haas/Charette Division.

The season started on the right note with a November 24th,  9-1 rout over Parsippany Regional. The following 

evening, the club skated to a close 4-3 victory over new Co Op Pequannock/West Milford at the Ice Vault, the early season record now at 2 – 0.

Game three the following Wednesday against West Morris Mendham 

sw the team not only lose its first game, 5 – 1,  but also lost top player Justin Lerner with an upper body injury. He would be lost until January 23, 2019, the team’s record at that time 8 wins, 6 losses, and 2 ties.  Hanover Park would then go on an 11-game unbeaten streak. After beating Gill St. Bernards in the Haas Cup Semifinals on February 11 – the very team that beat and tied them earlier in the season – they fell to the eventual Haas Cup Champ West Morris Mendham on February 14, and then lost in the first round of the NJSIAA State Tournament to Passaic Valley Cedar Grove on February 18, where they were minus 1st Team All Star Jordan Handler, who was out with the flu.

I addition to Handler, also recognized were 2nd team All Star, Tyler Cross, 3rd team All Star, Chris Schneider, and Justin Lerner was named Honorable Mention.

Head Coach, Greg Mills, and Assistant Coach, Karla Idunate, led Park Swim, which is comprised of 55 student athletes from Whippany Park and Hanover Park High Schools, during a very challenging 2018-2019 campaign. The Girls tea finished with a record of 2 wins and t losses, and the boys fared a bot better with 3 wins and 6 losses.

Outstanding performers for the girls included, Sarah Bernstein (Jr), and Freshman Carolyn Kao (Fr) and Lauren Martinez (Jr), who return for the ‘19-’20 season, and for the boys included, Nolan Danus (Jr), Jon Kao (Jr), Alex Trinh (Jr), Rob Mierzwinski (Sr), Brian Mullen (So), Sean Giordano (Fr), Dan Batrachenko (Fr), and Quinn Danus(Fr) all head stellar seasons.  All but one of the boy swimmers will be returning for the ‘19-’20 season.

Some accolades were received during the winter season. The boys 200 Meter Freestyle relay team broke a 20-year-old team record, and boys 200 Meter Medley Relay team broke the team record set in 2017. Also, three individual swimmers and a boy’s relay team qualified to swim in the New Jersey State Meet of Champions on March 2 – 3, 2019.

With many underclassmen swimmers returning, Mills and Idunate look forward to a positive 2019-2020 season.

Coach Steve Manni’s Whippany Park’s boys and girls Winter Track programs both had very successful seasons.

Led by Senior Christian Martin, the boys team finished in second place in the State Championship meet. Martin was State Sectional and Morris County Champion in the 55-meter hurdles and Morris County Champion in the 300-meter dash. The boy’s team of Martin, James Carlson-Zyats, Jack Lee and Jack DePiro won the 4 x 200-meter relay in the Morris County Relay Championship, as did Alexa Schauder and Noelle Luzzi in Pole Vault. The team had four athletes qualify for the State Meet of Champions as individuals in their respective events, including Jack Lee in the 55-meter dash, Alexa Schauder in pole vault, Christian Martin in the 55-meter hurdles and high jump as did Sydney Carlson-Zyats in both the 800 meter and 1600 meter.

Coach Devon Engelberger’s Whippany Park wrestling team finished the team portion of the season with an overall record of 15-8, second place in the NJAC Liberty division. The season was a great turn-around from the 2017-2018 season, where the Wildcats were forced to forfeit multiple weights and give away valuable team points in competition. Returning every starter from last year’s lineup made the team balanced with experienced wrestlers.

Whippany Park Was undefeated ion their first seven matches before falling to Morris County powers Hanover Park and Jefferson. However, wins over Morristown, Kearny, Morris Knolls, Madison and Kinnelon put Whippany Park in position to host early round matches in the state sectional tournament. During the week-long tournament, the Wildcats took down Belvidere 52-12, then handed Roselle Park a 39-29 loss in the semifinals. The run to the section title ended with a 45-16 loss to Delaware Valley.

Proving they could compete both as a team and as individuals, three Wildcat wrestlers placed in the Morris County tournament and seven advanced into the Region 3 tournament.

The biggest strength to the team was the experienced middle weight trio of captains Sean Savercool (Senior, 33-2 @ 152 lbs.) Thomas Stigliano (Junior, 30-5 @ 160lbs) and Nick Graessle (Senior, 21-5 @ 170 lbs). All three wrestlers placed top three in District 11 and will compete in the region tournament. Other district medalists include Dean Savercool at 106 lbs (sophomore, 29-5), Franco Bellomo  (junior, 14-11 @ 132lbs ), Zach Rossow (junior, 15-15 @ 195 lbs) and Matt Dill (Senior, 14-7 @ 285 lbs).

Finally, on the hardwood, Brent Dukin’s Whippany Park High School girls’ basketball team finished the season with double digit wins. The team finished third in their conference and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in three years, where they will take on Glen Ridge.

The Wildcats will return four starters next season.

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