By Mitch Silver

Capping a hugely successful season for Rye Country Day’s wrestlers, Hannes Boehning finished eighth in the country in the 220-pound weight class at the National Prep Championships held at Lehigh University last weekend. His Elite Eight effort earned Boehning All-American status in his third try at Nationals, and made him the second Wildcat so honored (Obinna Nwakeze was seventh in the Heavyweight class in 2010).

Fellow wrestler Max Mandell also qualified for Nationals at 145 pounds, and he pinned Jack Cassidy of St. Johns College Prep (Washington, D.C.) before bowing out of the competition.

Boehning wrestled five times that first day, winning his opening bout by a pin before losing a decision to 10th seed Parker Robinson of McDonough (Md.), 3-1, in the round of 16. This sent Hannes into the consolation bracket, where he needed to win three straight matches to make it back to the top eight. Head Coach Rich Knazik tweeted, “This is very tough to do, but that he did!”  

Pinning both Ethan Sypes of Bullis (Md.) and Maine’s Daric Johnson, the New England runner-up, Boehning still had to defeat Dymir Davis-Carruth of the Hill School (Pa.), a returning All-American who finished fourth a year ago. With Knazik and fellow Wildcats coach Hidalgo Nagashima prowling the sidelines, Boehning was up 1-0 going into the final period.

Here’s how Coach Knazik called it: “The match was very close and nerve-racking. Dymir tied it up with an escape and almost took down Hannes multiple times, but his defense was good. Hannes scored a takedown with a high single leg to go up 3-1, but then he got a stall warning. Dymir scored an escape to close the gap 3-2 and really came after Hannes, who stopped all attacks and did not back up. Finally, the match ended in a 3-2 thriller win. My hands are shaking as I am typing this!”

The next day, Boehning lost a 2-0 decision to Colin Lawler of Kincade (Tx.), which moved him to the 7th place final. After a very long wait he faced George Hooker of Father Ryan School (Tn.), giving up an escape with no time left to drop a very tight 3-2 decision.

The Wildcats had posted an 8-1 record before the post-season started. Boehning and Richard Antoine (287 pounds) won NYSAIS championships, though Antoine came down with the flu, preventing him from competing in the qualifying meet that sent Boehning and Mandell to Nationals.

In the final meet of the year, Rye Country Day finished 35th out of 108 teams, which isn’t too bad for only two qualifiers.  

By Mitch Silver

Conventional wisdom says it’s hard to beat the same team three times in a season. For a hockey team, it’s especially hard when you’ve run up a three-goal margin in the other guy’s rink. But that was 75 days ago. So Rye Country Day went into Saturday’s Fairchester Athletic Association championship game facing two foes: St. Luke’s and over-confidence.

“We stressed that point beforehand,” said first-year coach Brett Farson, whose team beat his former squad, the King School, by 7-2 in the semifinals. “But after a 20-game schedule, the boys know what it takes to play at the top of their abilities. I wasn’t too worried.”

The same wasn’t true of the Wildcat fans lining the rink, especially when the Storm stormed back with four minutes left in the second period to tie up the title game 1-1 on a Will Foster power-play goal, nullifying a Jeffrey Chen score three minutes earlier. Worse for the worrywarts in the crowd, Wildcat ninth grader Shane Holmes almost immediately took a charging penalty and senior captain Frank Tedeschi was sent to the sin bin right after that one was killed, meaning the locals would start the final period down a man.

Did the coach launch into a tirade in the Country Day locker room? Did he throw things? “Hardly,” Farson said. “We just reminded the kids that we prefer to play the game 5 on 5.”

And, after killing the Tedeschi penalty, that’s just what the Wildcats did, going penalty-free the rest of the way. Not so the Storm. When they were caught holding with nine and a half minutes left in the contest, the Rye power play swung into action. Eight seconds later, Tedeschi fed assist leader Jesse LeFebvre, whose effort wound up on the stick of junior Will Dodge, the team’s leading scorer on the season. Dodge slammed his 26th goal of the campaign past Storm keeper Evan Ruschil for the 2-1 lead.

St. Luke’s must not have preferred to play 5 on 5, because they took another penalty with 4:28 left on the clock. That’s when Farson called time out. “We just wanted to remind the kids to protect that puck. Go for the clinching goal, but don’t get caught in deep.”

He needn’t have worried. The home side played airtight hockey the rest of the way. And when St. Luke’s pulled their goalie with 90 seconds left, Tedeschi saw his opening. He fed the team’s points leader Chen for his second goal of the final, an empty netter that would put the cup in the hands of the Grandview Gang for the first time since 2014.

“When I came to Rye Country Day,” the coach said later, “I found a bunch of kids with a love of hockey. And five goalies — what a luxury! Senior Eddie Massaro was our leader back there. He won 10 games out of the 13 he played, including the biggie. I think he gave up just four goals total in his last four games.”

“But Massaro wasn’t our only Steady Eddie in goal. Junior Eddie Abrams won seven out of eight with an under-two goals-against average on the season. His .941 save percentage is absolutely astounding. So, with all the ninth- and tenth-graders who earned quality minutes this year, I think we’ll be all right going forward.”

Taking home the hardware means seniors Tedeschi, Chen, LeFebvre, Massaro, and stalwart defenseman Alex Berger will be all right going forward as well.

By Melanie Cane

In their first year as a member of the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA), which is comprised of 11 teams, Rye Country Day School's Girls’ Ice Hockey team garnered first place and won the league championship tournament. The Wildcats achieved an 8-0 record in the league and shut out both teams in the Annual WIHLMA Tournament in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, over the February 18 weekend.

The Wildcats pummeled Princeton High School 8-0 for the semifinal win. They defeated Mater Dei Prep from New Jersey 4-0 for the championship title. Freshman Caroline Appleyard netted a hat trick. She scored her first goal shorthanded, off a breakout pass from Olivia Friedberg. For her second goal, she went with speed off a deflected pass. An empty net goal completed her hat trick. Ryan Hammil rounded out the scoring on a tip from a screen in front off Selia Coady shots from the point.

Wildcat goalie Lexi Secreto had 18 saves. Her teammates got off a total of 31 shots.

This was coach Elizabeth Bennett’s first year with the team. She attributes their success to a seamless blend of experience and leadership from the upperclassmen and energy and enthusiasm from the underclassmen and eighth graders.

“Senior captain Olivia Weaver and junior assistant captains Maddie Zuber and Katherine Holtby brought an intensity to the team that the younger girls bought into,” said Bennett. “Maddie Lyons, who attends Holy Child and has been on the Rye Country Day team since eighth grade, was very vocal and motivational for the girls. Kristen Brown provided quiet leadership and positivity that is unrivaled and fellow senior Elena Kim, a first-year player, a willingness to try something new, created an infectious return to the simple love of the game for many of the more experienced players.”

Bennett added, “The girls played their best when it really mattered. They made it very easy for me as a coach. It’s an easygoing group of girls who get along terrifically and come to practice ready to work hard and try new things.”

Rye Country Day School is the only high school in Westchester County with a girls’ ice hockey team, and it’s something to shout about.


The Wildcats with the WIHLMA championship trophy

Photo courtesy of Wendy Haft

By Mitch Silver

The Beach Boys sang about it more than 50 years ago in “Be True to Your School”:

<When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great

I tell him right away, “Now what's the matter buddy

Ain't you heard of my school?

It's number one in the state.”

So be true to your school ...

It was love for his friends, his teachers, and his school that led Luis Galeano to leave his year-round academy soccer team after ninth grade and show up to play with the guys from the neighborhood on the Rye Neck team. Now, three years later, his high school career is over and Luis is heading off to the University of Albany, where he’ll play for the nationally ranked Great Danes in the fall.

“Playing for F.C. Westchester was good for improving my technique on the ball, but something was missing. Everybody there was playing for himself, looking to get good enough to earn a college scholarship. Me too. I found myself playing for the name on the back of the jersey, not the one on the front. So I decided to come back to play for Coach Gizzo and Coach Iacovelli.”

And Frank Gizzo and Bryan Iacovelli are glad he did. In the three years Luis played for the Panthers, the team went to the Sectional finals every time, winning in 2014. In two of those three years they lost their final game to the eventual State champs. Meanwhile, Luis was earning All-League, All-Section, and, last year, All-State honors.

Here’s what his teammates had to say at his letter-of-intent signing two weeks ago: “He’s a natural leader, even though he’s totally unselfish.” “His talent alone lifts everyone else up, but it’s Luis’ competitiveness that makes us winners.” “He’s a down-to-earth good guy.”

Last year, Albany lost a squeaker to Clemson in the NCAA Regionals. With a natural leader and down-to-earth good guy playing for them, they just might go all the way.

By Melanie Cane

For the second time in three years, Rye Country Day School’s Girls’ Basketball team won the NYSAIS Championship tournament. After defeating 6th-seeded Holy Child in the quarterfinals and Poly Prep, the No. 2 seed in the semifinals, the third-seeded Wildcats topped Manhattan’s Trinity School 50-35 for the NYSAIS title on February 27.

The Wildcats dominated the fourth-seeded Tigers from the get-go with a full court press. Taylor Regan scored off the opening jump ball and then the Wildcats stole the ball off a press. Alana Jones drove through traffic, drawing a foul on her jump shot. On the next play the Wildcats forced a walk on Trinity and Jones hit a three-pointer from the right post. The Tigers got on the board four minutes into the quarter on a foul shot. Then CeCe Payne hit a layup off a beautiful pass from Regan. Rye Country Day capitalized on a series of forced turnovers and ended the quarter with a 17-6 lead.

The Wildcats carried their momentum into the second quarter forcing turnovers and getting off multiple shots on each possession. But when Rye Country Day got in foul trouble, Trinity went on a ten-point tear, slashing the Wildcats lead to 27-20 at the half.

Early in the second half, the Tigers hit a three-pointer on a turnover to close the gap to four. During four minutes of frenetic and very physical play, Jones, Payne, and Regan scored eight straight points. After calling a timeout, the Tigers slowed down the pace, executed two nice plays, and ended the quarter down 35-27.

The eight-minute fourth quarter took over a half-hour, because, after the Wildcats pulled away with a 42-28 lead, both teams committed fouls on nearly every other play. Payne started off the scoring on a short shot by Emily Moran. Then Jones and Moran drew four fouls driving to the basket. Trinity went on a short run, but Rye Country Day stood their ground with Payne and Jones drawing five offensive fouls in the final three minutes.

After the game, senior captain Moran, who led the scoring with 16 points, said, “Amazing, I’m so happy!” Fellow senior captain Regan, who scored 12, added, “It’s the best feeling ever. We expected to make it to the semifinals, but we were the underdogs against Poly Prep.”

Wildcats Coach Scottie Nails, who now has two NYSAIS championship titles in his three years at the helm, said the best decision he ever made was assigning Regan to point guard. “I gave her the keys to the car and she drove it right to the championship title.”

Regarding the Trinity game, Nails said the key to the win was getting off to a good start. “We played with intensity employing our press immediately to force turnovers and throw them off their game. Once we had a big cushion, we relaxed, but maybe a little too much!”

The coach credited his three senior captains Moran, Regan, and Payne for the team’s success. “They never gave up, they brought abundant energy and high expectations to the team, and they believed in the system and each other. I am so glad for all the girls.” As for Jones, a freshman, who also contributed 12 points, Nails said, “Alana has a very bright future.”


The winning Wildcats with Coach Scottie Nails

Senior captains CeCe Payne, Emily Moran, and Taylor Regan

Alana Jones with a foul shot

Emily Moran blocking out for rebound

The Wildcats jumping for joy after the win

By Gretchen Althoff Snyder

In 2013, Evan Kamer was looking to fill a void in the otherwise saturated world of Rye youth sports. Kamer’s son found his passion playing rugby on a club team in Old Greenwich, but sadly the club only offered rugby until the age of 15. After joining forces with another Rye resident, Ryan Fitzpatrick, the two men founded Rye Youth Rugby Club (also known as the Rye Rugby Club). While Fitzpatrick started playing rugby in a men’s league in 1991, Kamer never played but wanted to foster his son’s passion in any way possible.

“From the very start,” said Kamer, “our objective was not only to bring a quality rugby playing experience to children from kindergarten through high school, but also focus on sound and safe development of youth athletes to foster the good sportsmanship so often associated with the sport.” In fact, after every match, the team enjoys food and drinks with the opposing team. “The kids can beat each other up the whole match, but they are all brothers of rugby afterwards.”

The club started as a training program for 24 high school students; four years later, the club boasts over 150 kids with four co-ed youth groups and three Rye High School teams (two boys and one girls). In 2016, the boy’s high school team won the Division II New York State Rugby Championships.

Kamer is pleased that the community response has been so positive. Many families in Rye are expats who grew up playing rugby, and are thrilled that their children will have the opportunity to enjoy the sport as well. There are also many families who’ve never been exposed to rugby, and their children immediately take to it.

While some may view rugby as a dangerous sport, Kamer noted, “The fact that NFL teams are adopting rugby tackle drills to improve NFL player safety speaks volumes about the safety of rugby.” The club takes the safety of its players very seriously; so much so that rugby was the first RHS team to have a trainer present at every practice and every match.

Boys and girls as young as 5 can join the rapidly expanding youth program (no tackling at that age), while high school students can come out for one of the three varsity teams. While the club is entirely self-funded, the School District has been extremely supportive of the program since its inception. Jim O’Hara, Head of Guidance, coaches the team along with teachers Jim Rinaldi and Sean Moughty, and rugby professional Blake Mannion.

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The Rye High School 2016 Boys’ Rugby Division II State Champions

Photo courtesy of Evan Kamer