February 12, 2020

SENIOR MOMENT: Hun School boys’ basketball player Jack Weiss, left, battles for the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, Weiss enjoyed a special Senior Night, scoring 11 points, including the game-winning three-pointer as Hun edged Princeton Day School 53-52. Over the weekend, Hun fell 53-46 to Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) in the opening round of the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) tournament last Friday and then topped Lawrenceville 62-45 in a consolation game a day later. The Raiders, now 11-13, host West Nottingham Academy (Md.), on February 13 and then start action in the state Prep A tourney where they are seeded third and play at second-seeded Blair in a semifinal contest on February 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Jack Weiss went through his Senior Night for the Hun School boys’ basketball team last Wednesday evening, it prompted him to reflect on how far he has come in a journey across town after transferring from Princeton High. more

FIGHTING IRISH: Hun School girls’ basketball player Enya Maguire dribbles the ball upcourt in recent action. Last Saturday, post-graduate guard Maguire, a native of Belfast, Ireland, scored 14 points and had five assists as Hun fell 68-53 to Lawrenceville in the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) semifinals. The Raiders, now 16-6, host Hightstown on February 13 and then have a rematch with Lawrenceville in the state Prep A semis on February 17 when third-seeded Hun plays at the second-seeded Big Red. (Photo by Rose Denommee, provided courtesy of the Hun School)

By Bill Alden

Enya Maguire brought a pass-first style with her from Belfast Ireland when she joined the Hun School girls’ basketball team this winter as a post-graduate point guard. more

TRIPLE CROWN: Stuart Country Day School track star Alex Ottomanelli, center, enjoys the moment with teammates Cara Carr, left and Heather Kwafo after the trio placed in the top four in the 55 hurdles at the state Prep B indoor championships earlier this month at the Lawrenceville School. Senior star Ottomanelli took first in the event with Kwafo coming in second and Carr taking fourth. In addition, Ottomanelli won the 800 and helped the 4×400 relay take first and set a school record helping Stuart place first in the meet for the third straight year.

By Bill Alden

Even though the Stuart Country Day School track had taken first in the last two state Prep B indoor championship meets, Alex Ottomanelli and her teammates knew that their streak was in jeopardy as they prepared for the 2020 competition. 

“We were just trying to keep positive all week, we were all hyping each other up for the meet,” said senior star Ottomanelli, reflecting on the championship event that took place on February 1 at the Lawrenceville School. more

February 5, 2020

TOUGH TO STOP: Alex Ratzan, center, controls the ball in action this past fall for the Tufts University men’s soccer team. Former Princeton High standout Ratzan helped Tufts win its second straight NCAA Division III national title. Junior midfielder Ratzan scored a team-high seven goals as the Jumbos posted a final record of 20-2-2. (Photo by Anna Miller/Tufts)

By Bill Alden

The Kansas City Chiefs enjoyed a championship celebration last Sunday night after they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in the Super Bowl, dousing Coach Andy Reed with a bucket of Gatorade and cavorting all over the field as they waited to accept the Lombardi Trophy.

Former Princeton High boys’ soccer player Alex Ratzan knows the championship feeling twofold as he helped Tufts University men’s soccer team win its second straight NCAA Division III national crown this past December.

For junior midfielder Ratzan, the thrill of winning the title is unforgettable.

“It felt amazing; it definitely felt a little different than the year before,” said Ratzan.

“Everything just kind of fell into place. We had given so much to this year and had worked so hard. We were playing our best soccer by the end of the year. It was a great feeling.” more

FREE AND CLEAR: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Cami Davis churns her way to a second place finish in the 100 freestyle at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday. Senior star Davis, who also took third in the 50 free, helped PHS girls take third in the team standings at the event. The Tiger boys’ squad also had a strong showing at the competition, placing fifth overall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cami Davis was determined to savor the final Mercer County Championships in her career for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team.

“It was so exciting,” said PHS senior star and captain Davis, reflecting on competing at the county meet last weekend at WW/P-North.

“My main goal was to have a lot of fun because this season has been really great.”

Having fun and swimming great, Davis took third in the 50-meter freestyle and second in the 100 free to help PHS take third in the team standings behind champion WW/P-North and runner-up Pennington. more

FORD TOUGH: Princeton High wrestler Aaron Munford, top, dominates a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Munford placed first at 138 pounds in the Mercer County Tournament to help PHS place fourth in the team standings at the event. PHS also got titles at the competition from senior Dominic Riendeau-Krause at 145 pounds and junior James Romaine at 152 pounds. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Aaron Munford was one of three champions for Princeton High wrestling at the Mercer County Tournament last weekend, but unlike the other two it was his first time in the varsity spotlight.

Sophomore Munford made the most of the opportunity at his first MCT at Robbinsville High on Saturday. In the quarterfinals at 138 pounds, he pinned Viraj Chandra of WW/P-North and then recorded a 16-6 major decision over Robbinsville’s Isaiah Lederman in the semifinals. In the final, he earned a 16-11 decision over Hopewell Valley’s Alejandro Lopez to uphold his top seeding and win his first county crown.

“I think it’s like the start of the postseason so it boosts my confidence going into districts and maybe regions,” said Munford, who improved to 24-3 this year. “I wasn’t as confident, but being the No. 1 seed definitely helped.”

Munford picked up 27 points for the Little Tigers, who placed fourth in the MCT with Hopewell Valley winning the team title. PHS got titles from senior Dominic Riendeau-Krause at 145 pounds and junior James Romaine at 152 pounds, and also picked up a second-place finish from junior Chris Sockler at 132 pounds. more

BIG TRAIN: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Aidan Trainor controls the puck in recent action. Last week, senior star and captain Trainor tallied three goals and an assist to help PHS overcome a 3-1 third period deficit to defeat Robbinsville 5-3 and clinch the CVC Colonial Division title. PHS, who edged Jackson Liberty 3-2 last Monday night to improve to 14-2-2, faces Paul VI at Mercer County Park on February 5, plays at Southern Regional on February 7 and then starts play in the Mercer County Tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton High boys’ hockey team trailed Robbinsville 3-1 heading into the third period, Aidan Trainor and his teammates weren’t rattled.

“We just knew that we needed to stay positive, we knew that is literally two shots away from being a tie game,” said PHS senior star and captain Trainor. “As long we kept an even keel and kept working hard, we would get there.”

It didn’t take long for PHS to get in the lead as it scored three goals in a span of 2:13 early in the third period to take a 4-3 lead and never looked back on the way to a 5-3 victory in the January 28 contest, clinching the CVC Colonial Division championship in the process.

“We were electric right there, on the bench and everything,” said Trainor, who scored the first goal of the rally and then assisted on the second. “We were going crazy, we were really hyping each other up.” more

NIGHT TO REMEMBER: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Jomar Meekins enjoys the moment with his parents, Christine and Lawrence Meekins, as he was introduced at the program’s Senior Night pregame celebration last Wednesday evening. Star guard Meekins scored 11 points on the night as PDS defeated Pennsauken Tech 72-32. The Panthers, who fell 65-63 to the Shipley School (Pa.) last Saturday to move to 10-7, will be starting play in the state Prep B tournament where they are seeded second and host seventh-seeded Newark Academy on February 8 in an opening round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While Jomar Meekins beamed during the loud ovation he received when introduced during the Senior Night pregame celebration for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team last Wednesday, that wasn’t the highlight of the event for him.

Instead, the most meaningful aspect of the night for guard Meekins came in getting joined in the starting lineup by his four classmates, Lucas Green, Jaylin Champion-Adams, Tazee Mahjied, and Alan Norcott as the Panthers hosted Pennsauken Technical School.

“I have been here for four years so I am really glad to finally get to play with my boys, my brothers,” said star guard Meekins. “It was really nice to have all five start, I love them.” more

GRAND MOMENT: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nia Melvin (holding ball) celebrates with her teammates and family after she hit the 1,000-point milestone in a 79-21 win over Immaculate Conception on January 28. Last Thursday, junior guard Melvin added to her total, tallying 26 points as Stuart defeated Moorestown Friends 73-40 to post its 10th straight win and improve to 14-6. Stuart hosts Bound Brook on February 10 before starting play in the state Prep B tournament where it is seeded first and will host a semifinal game on February 16.

By Bill Alden

For Nia Melvin, hitting the 1,000-point milestone last week for the Stuart Country Day basketball team was a goal that had been on her mind for years.

“It is something I have definitely been looking forward to before I even started playing basketball at Stuart,” said junior guard Melvin, who scored 21 points in a 79-21 win over Immaculate Conception on January 28 to pass the 1,000-point mark.

“It is something I wanted to accomplish and I am really proud to have made it.”

Melvin knows that she couldn’t do it alone. “My teammates were definitely helping me get there because they knew how close I was,” said Melvin, who entered the game with 983 points. more

INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE: Hun School girls’ swimmer Abbie Danko heads to victory in the 200-meter individual medley at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday. Senior Danko, who also took fourth in the 100 backstroke, helped Hun place sixth in the team standings at the competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Abbie Danko won the 200-meter individual medley at the Mercer County Championships in 2019, it helped set the tone for the Hun School girls’ swim squad as it went on to win the program’s first-ever team title at the competition.

Danko and her teammates were fired up to defend their title last weekend as they returned to WW/P-North for the 2020 county meet.

“We were so excited, we knew we may not win again, but we were just excited to come and swim,” said senior star and captain Danko. “It is a fast meet always so you can get some of your best times. It was great.” more

January 29, 2020

STEPPING UP: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Sofia Aguayo looks for an opening in recent action. Last Friday, sophomore forward Aguayo tallied a game-high 12 points to help PHS defeat Nottingham 38-10. The Tigers, who moved to 3-9 with a 51-32 loss to South Brunswick on Saturday, play at Robbinsville on January 31 before hosting Princeton Day School on February 1 and Notre Dame on February 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Sofia Aguayo is getting up to speed in making the adjustment to starting for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

“It has been a challenge but I have worked very hard and I make a conscious effort,” said sophomore forward Aguayo, who played mainly on the JV as a freshman with a few appearances on varsity. “It is a lot faster and a lot more things to learn.”

Last Friday evening, Aguayo showed how much she has learned, tallying a game-high 12 points with nine rebounds as PHS pulled away to a 38-10 win over Nottingham.

In reflecting on the win, Aguayo acknowledged that it took some time for PHS to get into a rhythm. more

ROUGH RIDE: Alec Bobchin, top, dominates a foe on his way to winning the Region 5 title at 138 pounds last February in his senior season at Princeton High. Bobchin went on to place fourth at 138 in the NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships. This winter, Bobchin has moved up to the college level at Rider University where he is redshirting, which prohibits him from competing in the Broncs’ dual meets but allows him to wrestle in open tournaments. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Alec Bobchin equaled the best finish by a Princeton High wrestler ever at the NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships when he placed fourth at 138 pounds last March.

Six months later Bobchin started over when he joined Rider University’s Division I wrestling program.

“When I came into Rider, I was humbled very fast,” said Bobchin. “Going from the best guy in that practice room to coming into Rider and being like everyone else, it’s really pushed me to try to get back to where I want to be.”

It didn’t take long for Bobchin to figure out how different it would be in college. The challenge was laid out immediately.

“First day of preseason,” said Bobchin. “Our first workout. It was hard.” more

SPOILS OF VICTORY: Princeton High girls’ track star Kendall Williamson shows off the medals she earned for winning the 55-meter dash and the 200 at the Mercer County Championships last weekend at the Bennett Center in Toms River. Sophomore Williamson’s heroics helped the PHS girls’ squad take fourth in the team standings at the event won by Lawrenceville.

By Justin Feil

Ben Samara saw championship potential in the Princeton High School girls track and field team four years ago.

Now the Tigers are trying to gear up to make that a possible come spring.

“I like to make bold predictions and way back when this senior class came in as freshmen, I started calling it the ‘2020 Plan,’” said PHS head coach Samara.

“We were going to round this group out and go after a county or sectional title. Over the last few years, we’ve had some heartbreak losing some of our athletes to things outside of track, or unavoidable things, but we’ve managed to loop in some of these freshmen and sophomores that came even after we started talking. That’s kept this 2020 Plan on track. We’re really, really excited for the spring and quietly confident we can make that plan a reality.” more

FLYING HIGH: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Cami Davis shows her butterfly form in a meet earlier this season. Last week, Davis won the 50 freestyle and took second in the 100 butterfly to help PHS defeat Lawrence 97-73 and improve to 10-2. In upcoming action, the Tigers will be competing in the Mercer County Championships from January 30-February 1 at WW/P-North. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton High girls’ swimming team, its meet at Lawrence High last week was a good test as it girds for the Mercer County Championships.

“We had very similar records going into it; they were 8-2 and we were 9-2,” said PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz reflecting on the January 21 meet.

“I knew they had a really strong team this year; they have a really good group of freshman girls. I knew it was going to be a challenge.”

PHS proved to be up to the challenge, posting a 97-73 win over the Cardinals.

“It was nice to come out on top,” said Misiewicz. “We always had a cushion. Maybe they would take first in an event and we are going two-three-four.” more

By Bill Alden

Daniel Baytin didn’t waste any time making an impact for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team.

Joining the squad in January for the homestretch of the season, freshman Baytin has emerged as a force for PHS.

He won both the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke to help PHS defeat Notre Dame 92-78 on January 17 and then repeated that double win against Lawrence last week to help the Tigers pull away to a 94-76 victory over the Cardinals and improve to 11-1.

Baytin has found a home with the PHS program. “I really like Princeton High in general,” said the 6’4 Baytin, who competes year-round for the X-Cel Swimming club and also stars in summer meets for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings. more

GOLDEN GOAL: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Chris Cecila controls the puck last Thursday evening as PDS faced Lawrenceville at Hobey Baker Rink. Senior defenseman Cecila scored the winning goal as the Panthers prevailed 3-2 in overtime against the Big Red. PDS, who defeated Malvern Prep (Pa.) 3-2 last Monday to improve to 6-8-1, play at Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on January 29 and host Seton Hall Prep on January 31. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Chris Cecila hadn’t scored a goal all season as he hit the ice for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team last Thursday evening when it hosted Lawrenceville at Hobey Baker Rink.

By the end of the night, senior defenseman Cecila was gliding on the ice for a curtain call demanded by the throng of PDS students on hand after he broke through with his first goal to give the Panthers a riveting 3-2 win in overtime against the Panthers.

For Cecila, getting the winning tally in the heated rivalry was a dream come true. “I could not have dreamt what happened here,” said Cecila.

“It was our last opportunity. I just wanted us to get the win for the fans because they are incredible.”

It took an incredible effort for the Panthers to overcome the powerful Big Red as they battled back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to ultimately force overtime in a frenzied atmosphere that saw the student sections from each school standing, cheering, and pounding on the glass throughout the contest. more

ALL OVER THE ICE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Eddie Evaldi brings the puck up the ice last Wednesday as Hun hosted the Portledge School (N.Y.). Playing both defenseman and center, junior star Evaldi scored two goals in the game but it wasn’t enough as Portledge prevailed 5-3. The Raiders, who defeated Notre Dame 11-3 last Monday to improve to 6-8-2, host St. Joe’s Prep (Pa.) on January 29 and St. Augustine on January 31 before playing at Gloucester Catholic on February 3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Eddie Evaldi’s long-sleeve compression T-shirt was sweat-soaked and he was short of breath standing in the lobby of Ice Land Skating Center after the Hun School boys’ hockey team hosted the Portledge School (N.Y.) last Wednesday.

The junior star had reason to be fatigued as he took shifts on both offense and defense and was all over the ice as Hun battled valiantly in falling 5-3 to Portledge.

The versatile Evaldi has been relishing his double duty. “My role is basically just do whatever the coach [Ian McNally] wants me to do; I am out there a lot,” said Evaldi.

“For the first part of the game I was centering the two lines and I was playing some shifts at defense. In the second part of the game I went back to the defense. It is like that every single game; I love it.” more

January 22, 2020

TOUGH GUY: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Ethan Guy, center, battles for the ball in recent action. Last Friday, junior forward Guy scored 15 points to help PHS defeat Steinert 65-46. The Tigers, who dropped to 4-7 with a 63-57 loss to North Brunswick last Saturday, play at Nottingham on January 24 before hosting Montgomery on January 25 and Trenton on January 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Things got off to a rough start last week for Ethan Guy.

Princeton High boys’ basketball junior star Guy took a knock to the head as PHS hosted Princeton Day School on January 13 and had to leave the game in the second half, holding an ice pack to his left eye as the Tigers fell 57-43. more

FRESH START: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Catie Samaan controls the puck last Friday night as PHS hosted Newark East Side at Hobey Baker Rink. Freshman forward Samaan scored two goals in the game to help the Tigers post a 7-2 win and improve to 3-8. PHS hosts Immaculate Heart Academy on January 24 and Princeton Day School on January 28.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Catie Samaan took a break from hockey three years ago to focus her athletic efforts on soccer and field hockey but decided this winter that it was time to get back on the ice. more

DAN THE MAN: Hun School boys’ basketball player Daniel Vessey, right, covers a foe in recent action. Last week, sophomore guard Vessey exploded for 30 points to help Hun defeat Lawrenceville 85-58. The Raiders, who improved to 6-10 with a 57-48 win over Hackensack last Monday in the Public vs. Private School Showcase in Teaneck, play at Peddie on January 22, host the Blue Ridge School (Va.) on January 24, and then play at Marist High on January 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as Daniel Vessey went through his normal pregame shooting routine before the Hun School boys’ basketball team hosted Lawrenceville last week. more

DRIVING AHEAD: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Jardine heads to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, junior guard Jardine tallied 19 points and had six rebounds as Hun defeated Hopewell Valley 50-40. The Raiders, who defeated Nottingham 58-8 last Monday to post their fourth straight win and improve to 9-4, play at Peddie on January 22 and at Lawrenceville on January 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over her first two seasons with the Hun School girls’ basketball team, Kennedy Jardine proved to be a scoring threat from the perimeter with her long-range shooting prowess. more

RUF AND TUMBLE: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Kirsten Ruf heads to the basket in recent action. Last Thursday, freshman star Ruf scored 12 points in a losing cause as PDS fell 51-16 to visiting Pingry. The Panthers, now 1-12, play at Hamilton on January 22 and at the Solebury School (Pa.) on January 24 before hosting Peddie on January 28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kirsten Ruf wasn’t about to stop hustling even though the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team trailed visiting Pingry 51-16 in the waning seconds last Thursday. more

January 15, 2020

TAKING HOLD: Princeton High wrestler Chloe Ayres, top, controls a foe in a match last year. Junior Ayres, who placed first at 105 pounds last winter in the first-ever NJSIAA girls’ championships, has emerged as a leader on the mat for the Tigers under new head coach Jess Monzo. PHS, which started 1-8 in dual match competition, has meets at Nottingham on January 15 and at Ewing on January 17 before hosting a quad meet on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Jess Monzo, coaching wrestling is a labor of love.

“There is always something that drives you and you want to give back and you want to do exactly what your coaches did for you,” said Monzo, who wrestled for Clifton High and Montclair State before getting into high school coaching with stints at Jefferson Township, David Brearley, Matawan, Freehold, and East Brunswick.

“You want to do that and more for the next crop of kids. Wrestling is in my blood, it is going to be in my blood until I can’t do it any more.”

This winter, Monzo, 39, has brought his passion for the sport to Princeton High where he has taken the helm of the wrestling program, succeeding longtime coach Rashone Johnson, now an assistant principal at the school. more

FINAL ACT: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Charlotte Haggerty, left, goes after the puck in a recent game. Senior Haggerty starred as PDS swept Holton Arms (Md.) last weekend, scoring a goal as the Panthers won 2-1 on Saturday and then adding a goal and an assist in a 5-1 victory on Sunday. PDS, now 6-3, hosts Morristown Beard on January 16, plays at Upland Country Day (Pa.) on January 17 and at Pingry on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Charlotte Haggerty has been giving new meaning this winter to the famous Shakespeare line from Hamlet, which proclaims “the play’s the thing.”

The Princeton Day School senior is excelling again on the stage in a school production and has made time to play for the Panther girls’ hockey team.

“I am in the musical so when I have rehearsals that always has to take priority over practice,” said Haggerty. “It is really tough balancing that. Yesterday I had rehearsal and then right after that I ran up to make hockey practice.”

In order to be sharp for the PDS hockey team, Haggerty doesn’t waste a moment on or off the ice.

“When I am here, I make the most of it,” said Haggerty. “I do a lot of off ice training, working on speed and stuff, just the details that nobody really sees.”

Last Saturday morning against visiting Holton Arms (Md.), Haggerty made the most of her time on the ice, tallying a goal as PDS pulled out a 2-1 win. more

STANDING TALL: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey goalie Tim Miller guards the crease in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, sophomore goalie Miller made 24 saves to help PDS edge Delbarton 2-1. PDS, which fell 1-0 to the Portledge School (N.Y.) last Monday to move 4-7-1, hosts Don Bosco on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Trailing powerful Delbarton 1-0 heading into the third period last Thursday, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team was due for some breaks to go its way.

“We needed to find a way to score and get a lucky bounce,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, whose team had gone 0-5-1 in its last six games coming into Thursday with each of those games having been against boarding schools

“In seven straight games we have given up a goal on a shot where Timmy [Miller] is screened or it gets redirected. One of these days we have to score a goal like that for ourselves and put bodies in front of the net.”

After squandering a power play opportunity early in the third, PDS rebounded to get a goal from freshman Oliver Hall on an assist by sophomore Michael Sullo to tie the game at 1-1 with 3:17 left in regulation. more