In the second part of the Times’ Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School spring sports preview, we focus on the track, tennis, and sailing teams.
Track and Field
It was another strong season last year for Coach Joe Schroeder’s track and field team, as they tied for 10th place in the division state meet and around half the individual athletes qualified for states. The boys’ team went 4-1 last year in dual meets; the girls were 3-2.
The team lost Randall Jette, state champion in the 100 meters and Maddie Penicaud who finished 8th in the triple jump, but several talented athletes return, including Maggie Riseborough, who finished 3rd last year in the shot-put.
“We lost Randall and Maddie, but I think we have some very talented athletes,” Coach Schroeder said. “We have a lot of the same athletes; that is one of our strong points. Jacob Lawrence, who qualified for the 200 meter and long jump last year as a sophomore, is returning and should be a big part of this team.”
The coach said a number of boys’ basketball players are also joining the team for the first time — Delmont Araujo, Brandon Watkins, and Peter Keaney.
“It seems every year I get a couple of seniors who come out for track for the first time and its nice because they are already physically developed and more relaxed so they can compete at a higher level right away,” the coach said.
Coach Schroeder said the team is most experienced in the throwing and distance running events, although there are some talented athletes in the sprinting and jumping events that could develop into strong competitors. “Each season has its own storyline, so it will be fun to wait and see what happens,” he said.
Girls tennis coach Connie McHugh said she is excited about the 2012 season and for good reason: the team went 15-3 last year and made it all the way to the semifinals of the state tournament sectionals before losing to Norwell.
The team last year won the Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC) title, the first time the girls’ tennis team has won a league championship in the history of the program.
The team lost only two seniors — Michaella Gaines and Cami Fernandez — to graduation and returns a core group of 16 players. And while the coach said she was optimistic about a return trip to the tournament, she said her team sets other goals that go beyond wins and losses.
Coach McHugh said one goal is to win the sportsmen of the year award, which goes to the team that exhibits the most character and decorum on the court and off. “We have a different type of philosophy, we want our players to be ladies, scholars, and athletes — in that order,” she said.
The coach said she employs a type of mentoring system where upperclassmen are paired with freshmen to help them with their tennis game, academics and anything else that might come up in their lives.
That being said, the team is bursting with talent, led by freshman Samantha Potter and junior Annie Burton, who are likely the number one and two singles players. The team also has seniors Wendy Winn and Alyssa Adler who can play either singles or doubles.
The number one doubles pairing of Julia Cooper and Annabelle Hackney returns, as well as Celia Mercier who started last year but was injured, and Dylan Brockmeyer.
They may not generate the headlines or the buzz of some other teams, but the boys’ tennis squad under coach Ned Fennessey has quietly become something of a dynasty in recent years, winning back-to-back EAC titles, and it’s poised for another strong year.
Last year the team went 19-3 but again lost to Cape Cod Academy in the Division III South Sectionals. In recent years the two teams have established quite a rivalry, but the powerful Cape Cod Academy, an independent that does not play in a conference, has consistently come out on top.
Coach Fennessey said this might be the year his team beats Cape Cod Academy. “I would hope this team has matured enough that we will seize the moment and defeat them, but you have to do it on the court,” he said. “They lost a few key players themselves, so we probably have as good an opportunity this year as we ever will.”
The Vineyarders lost number one singles player Reid Yennie, a four-year starter and captain, but will return six of the seven players from last year overall. Kent Leonard, Justice Yennie, and Patrick McCarthy are expected to compete for the number-one singles player slot.
The team also welcomes Nathaniel Schneider, who transferred from a private school. Jackson McBride and Pat McCarthy are expected to compete as the number-one doubles team.
Coach Fennessey credits the team’s recent success with the Vineyard Youth Tennis Center, which introduces players to the game at a younger age and allows them to practice year-round.
“It’s a function of the tennis youth center,” he said. “Before that was there the kids basically had no place to play during the winter. Now they are there all year; a majority of this team are there two or three times a week practicing and continuing to get better.”
It will be an exciting season for the sailing team with the addition of six new boats to the fleet. The team features 25 sailors, about double the size of previous teams. Co-captains Jake Sudarsky, Jesse Thomas and Riley Donegan will lead the team which features many freshman and sophomores.