Ranney School rising sophomore A.J. Gracia, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder on the Panthers’ baseball team, has verbally committed to play for the Duke University Blue Devils once he graduates in 2023.
Garcia chose the Blue Devils during his freshman year. The Panthers’ 2020 season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are happy for A.J. and his family,” Head of Ranney School Dr. John Griffith said on the Panthers’ website.
“His dedication has led to a verbal commitment to his dream school and we couldn’t be more thrilled for him. This is another example of the upward trajectory of our baseball program as we continue to build on the momentum of last year’s success and the winning culture that our head coach, Pat Geroni, and athletics director, Natalie Gorman, are working hard to continue.”
“This is such a great achievement for A.J. and his family,” Geroni said on the Panthers’ website. “Duke is getting a great baseball player and person and we are so excited to watch him grow over the next four years here on the Ranney baseball team.”
No game: The 43rd annual Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic, scheduled for July 15 at Toms River North, has been cancelled because of the pandemic.
It will mark the first summer without a Classic, played for the first time in 1978 at the Wall Township Speedway in Wall Township. The game consists of graduated seniors from Monmouth and Ocean counties. Local players selected to this year’s game were Ocean’s Brian Fisher and Nasir Thompson.
The winner of the previous three games, Monmouth leads the series 23-18-1. The longest running high school football All-Star game in New Jersey, it is run by the Shore Sports Network in partnership with the Shore Football Coaches Foundation, The Classic contributes to the Challenger Sports League and the 1st Lt. Brian Brennan Stands Alone Foundation.
Honor announced: Three local players earned berths on the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Academic All-Shore team.
Cited were Asbury Park’s Jai’ Sun Brown, whose recipient was Jean Michel; Neptune’s Khalil Garrett-Dogan, whose recipient was Henry Watkins, and Fisher, whose recipient was Ocean standout Trebor Pena, bound for Syracuse University.
To earn a berth, a player had to be a great student, display high character and contribute to the success of their team on the field.
In girls and boys cross country and track and field:
Winners announced: The Purple Roses dominated the St. Rose Senior Sports Awards.
Abigail Llach, who has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete for Fordham University, was named the Senior Female Athlete of the Year. Sean Donohue, bound for the University of Notre Dame on a full scholarship, was cited as the Senior Male Athlete of the Year. Donohue will not compete. Both won a Shore Conference Scholarship.
Dan Tencza won the Monmouth County Sportsmanship Award. He will attend St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he will not compete.
Kaitlyn Lavender was named the school’s Coach of the Year.
“I am overwhelmed and honored to be rewarded for something I love so much,” she said on her Facebook page. “Thank you everyone, particularly my past alumni who have made coaching so special.”
In road racing:
Results are in: The results of the Jersey Shore Running Club Lake Como Spring Bash Virtual 5K have been announced.
The overall winner was William Broadhurst, 19, of Leonardo, in 19:30. Katie Flood, who was fifth overall, sped to the women’s title in 24:04. Flood, 31, resides in Belmar.
Sixth overall was Michael Procopio, 50, of Ocean, in 24:17. Placing 19th overall was Keith Fleming, 44, of Neptune, in 28:29.
In the College Corner:
Pickett involved in honor: Former Ocean standout Kenny Pickett helped the University of Pittsburgh football team win the Team Moment of the Year Award for the 2019-2020 athletic year at the third annual Panthers’ Choice Awards.
The award was presented in recognition of a striking performance by either an individual or a group in a specific competition that led to a shift in momentum.
In the host Panthers’ 35-34 win over the University of Central Florida, then ranked 15th in the nation by the Associated Press, Pickett caught the game-tying touchdown pass, a 3-yarder with 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter, to knot the score at 34. With 14:31 to go in the first half, Pickett tossed a 2-yard touchdown pass, giving the Panthers a 13-0 lead.
The winners trailed by as many as 10 points, 31-21, with 6:19 left in the third quarter.
Pickett, a quarterback, completed 25 of 47 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown. His longest completion devoured 24 yards. He was sacked one time. Now a rising senior, Pickett rushed for 61 yards and one touchdown on 61 carries. His longest run was 17 yards.
Hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Athletics Department, the Awards function was conducted in a virtual format because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Qadiri honored: Former Ocean standout Qudratullah Qadiri, a Stockton University standout, was voted to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 Men’s Track and Field/Cross Country Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America as a senior.
He was selected Academic All-District for the second straight year. This spring, he was named the student speaker for Stockton’s traditional commencement ceremony, cancelled because of the pandemic. He posted a 3.95 grade point average as a biology major.
Qadiri was named to the New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Academic first team in 2019. He was named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar in 2019.
He earned four NJAC second-team honors in track and field, three in the pole vault and one in the decathlon. He was named the 2017 NJAC Rookie of the Year after the indoor track and field season. He qualified for five straight Atlantic Championship meets in indoor and outdoor track combined.
The CoSIDA Academic All-District program recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. The honorees advance to the national ballot from which CoSIDA Academic All-Americans will be selected in June.
Stockton competitors earned Academic All-District honors for seven straight years.
Intelligent and athletic: Local athletes were honored for their academic success at Rowan University.
Named a Scholar-Athlete of Distinction was Ocean resident Dylan Tyrrell. The senior men’s cross country and track and field athlete from St. Joseph in Metuchen majored in political science and posted a cumulative grade-point-average of either 3.40 or higher.
Freshman Wilby Alfred, a Neptune graduate who played men’s soccer for the Profs, was honored as a Scholar-Athlete after posting a cumulative grade-point-average from 3,00-3,39. The exploratory studies major scored nine points on two goals and five assists. He paced the Profs in assists and finished in a two-way tie for third place on the team in points.
He appeared in 20 matches and started 11. He played 1,015 minutes and attempted 12 shots on goal en route to a .545 shooting percentage. He received one red card.
Cited as a Scholar-Athlete was freshman football player J.T. Plasteras, a Monmouth Regional graduate. The exploratory studies major posted a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.00-3.39. He was an offensive lineman and long snapper.
Ex-Monmouth Regional football player Colin O’Hara was honored as a Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society inductee. The junior offensive lineman was a human performance in clinical settings major. To be honored, a student-athlete must post a cumulative grade-point-average of either 3.40 or higher through his junior and senior years and exhibit values associated with participation in intercollegiate athletics, including good citizenship, moral character and friendship.
Antoine update: Villanova University freshman guard Bryan Antoine, the former Ranney School scoring machine, averaged 1.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the Wildcats men’s basketball team.
The Tinton Falls resident buried seven of 23 shots from the field overall for 30 percent. He was two of 15 from deep for 13 percent. He netted both free throws.
He added five assists and three steals and was charged with 14 personal fouls and two turnovers.
Antoine appeared in 16 games, all as a reserve, and averaged 5.4 minutes per game. A 6-foot-5, 175-pounder, Antoine underwent major shoulder surgery on May 19, 2019. Villanova team surgeon Dr. William Emper performed the operation. Antoine began practicing with the Wildcats Nov. 7.
The Shore Conference’s career scoring leader with more than 2,000 points, Antoine teamed with Scottie Lewis, who recently completed his freshman season as a guard with the University of Florida Gators, to lead the Panthers to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title in March of last year. Antoine averaged 21.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game as a senior.
“Bryan is as dynamic a guard as we have recruited in years,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said on the Panthers’ website prior to the start of the season. “He has a great ability to drive and get to the rim, shoot 3’s and defend and rebound. Plus, he’s an outstanding student who has been well taught at the Ranney School.”
Todd cited: Former Monmouth Regional athlete Mackenzie Todd, a senior sprinter on the Monmouth University women’s outdoor track and field team, earned a berth on the 2020 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Academic team in the sport.
She was a health studies and physical education major. In order to earn a berth on the team, an athlete must complete two semesters at their institution and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 on a 4.0 scale.
In women’s lacrosse:
Kerwin update: Former Neptune standout Allie Kerwin has completed her sophomore season with the Ramapo College Roadrunners.
She allowed 40 goals en route to a 12.83 goals against average as a keeper. She made 46 saves and posted a .535 saves percentage. She faced 105 shots in 187:03 minutes. She appeared in and started four games.
She played 192 minutes in the field and finished with 12 ground balls, one assist and one caused turnover.
In soccer, Kerwin appeared in six matches and started one in goal. She allowed eight goals and made 20 saves en route to a .714 saves percentage and a 2.78 goals against average. She faced 44 shots. She played 259:27 minutes, posting a 1-0 record and one shutout.
She played 261 minutes in the field.