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Winter Sports In Review

2019-20 Winter Sports Recap

VARSITY BASKETBALL

The 2019-20 season ended with a record of 7-18, but established a platform to build from moving forward. This season, the NEPSAC Class A was as competitive as it's ever been, touting talented teams from top to bottom. 

The Winged Beavers notched key wins against St. Paul's (NH), St. Sebastian's (MA), and cross-town rival Suffield, and battled eventual Class A champs Loomis and Class B champs Canterbury to the final horn. Avon Old Farms played a lot of extra basketball this year, forcing three games into overtime, including a double overtime win as its first W of the season.

Tough losses to Hotchkiss and Taft on the road and Williston Northampton at home may only tell part of the story. These were games where talented opponents had more experience and made more shots, but Avon fiercely competed. In each of these games, the Winged Beavers out hustled the opponent for loose balls and chance rebounds, and gave the young players and newcomers invaluable experience in learning how to compete in close games.

Injuries played a major part in matchups, but a healthy and unified group showed it can compete with any team on the schedule. Eight seniors will graduate and have left their mark on the program, while five returners will look to keep improving the culture and building towards a competitive and tough group of guys. 

Congratulations to this year's award winners: Most Improved Player Anthony Clayton '21, Most Valuable Player Matt Brand PG, and Don Wick Coach's Award recipients Mack Brennan '20 and Teddy Mineau '20.

VARSITY HOCKEY

The 2019-20 Varsity Hockey Team completed the season with an outstanding 24–3 record. On the way to the Founders League and Housatonic League Championship, the team qualified for the NEPSIHA Elite 8 Tournament and ended the season as a semifinalist losing to eventual champion, Salisbury, 4–3 in overtime.

The team was led by Captains Gentry Shamburger ’20 and Tabor Heaslip ’20 along with seven other senior class veterans.

The season opened on the road at Williston and resulted in a 4–2 win led by senior Timur Alishlalov’s two goals. The home opener result was an 8–1 thumping of Hoosac. Junior Drew Tsakounis contributed two goals and one assist from his defense position. The first league encounter against Taft saw the Winged Beavers prevail 7–4 as Liam Verdoni ’22 had a hat trick. A hard fought 3–1 win at Trinity-Pawling was highlighted by the winning goal from JP Turner ’21 and two goals from Heaslip. The next day before a large crowd at Jennings-Fairchild Rink, Conor Callaghan ’21 shut out Deerfield 4–0 with Turner again leading the charge with two goals.

The first game of the Christmas Hockey Classic game did not turn out as planned as Kent rode their goalie’s fine performers to win 3–1. The next day, the skating Beavers were able to bounce back with two wins over St. Paul’s 6–3 (two goals apiece for Alishlalov and Heaslip) and Tabor 8–3 (Heaslip again with a pair of goals). The following day, Callaghan spun another shut out 1–0 over Berkshire with Turner scoring the lone goal to clinch third place for the tournament.

Coming back from vacation, the team went on the road to beat Taft 4–1 with goals by Paul Davey ’21, Brendan Williams ’21, Tyler Gordon ’21, and Nick Young ’20. A hard fought 4–1 victory over Hotchkiss was led by Tabor Heaslip’s three points. Healsip followed up two days later with two goals against Pomfret in a 4–2 Friday evening tussle.

A return engagement against Kent was punctuated by another Callaghan shut out and goals from six different players (attesting to the team’s depth) in a 6–0 whitewashing. At NMH, JP Turner had two goals in the 4–1 triumph. The team dropped their first regular season game 2-0 at Berskhire. Bounce back they did, on Monday at Westminster before a capacity crowd defeating the Martlets 3–1. Shamburger, Davey, and Nick Capasso ’23 had the goals. At Loomis, the team played very well to defeat the Pelicans 7–0 with Tsakounis with two points. A tough 4–1 win over Choate at home with two points from Williams and Nick Capasso ’20 powered the team to their return engagement with Westminster (a 4–3 overtime victory with Nick Cyprian ’20 scoring the winner 4:13 into the extra period).

After the Long Winter Weekend, the team pounded Gunnery 9–0 in a surprisingly one-sided game. JP Turner and PJ Neal ’21 each had a pair of points. A Saturday evening battle at Deerfield produced a physical 5–2 win. Alishlalov had four points in a 8–1 win over Choate along with three assists from Charles Leddy ’22 led the Beavers.

A 3–0 road win at Salisbury saw another sterling Callaghan shut out performance and goals from Alishlalov, Verdoni, and Heaslip.

Andrew Capasso earned the victory over Canterbury 5–1. PJ Neal and Jason Marsella ’21 each had a pair of goals and Tim Heinke ’21 with a couple of points led the way. The final regular season game was a tough 4–2 win over Loomis with goals from Davey, Nick Capasso, Heinke, and Heaslip.

In the quarter final game of the Elite 8 New England Prep School Championship, the Beavers overcame Noble and Greenough 6–3 with Turner notching the hat trick and five points. The semi-final game vs. Salisbury resulted in a heart-breaking 4–3 overtime loss as the team was unable to hang on to a one goal third period lead.

On the way to their 24–3 season, the leadership was superb from Captains Heaslip and Shamburger and seniors Reid Shafer, Nick Young, Austin Gatesman, Andrew Capasso, Mac Godowsky, Nick Cyprian, and Timur Alishlalov. Their loss will be felt, but a large group of returning players make the prospect for the 20-21 team look bright.

RIFLERY

The beginning of the 2019-20 season found the riflery team missing the top five athletes from the previous season as well as one experienced senior coach and several experienced student coaches. It was clear that this season would be one of rebuilding the team. The coach’s goal would be to work the team hard with a focus on maximizing skill and performance development.

Before each practice, Co-Captains Liam Curley '21 and Clayton Donahue '22 with a determined assistant captain Paul Kim '22 met with senior coaches to recommend areas to work on for the day. In addition, captains scored targets in matches and Curley tended to score practice matches as well to help decide which athletes would make up the top 10 members of the next league match.

With barely a week to train after tryouts and the Thanksgiving holiday, the first match was against Suffield at their quirky range. AOF shot a season low 857 as they learned how to shoot in an unusual range, how to coach their teammates, and how to focus on performance and not think about score.

By the end of the February Prep School State Championship, the top five athletes combined to post a season high 905, up 48 points from the first match. In addition, during the last month of the season, every athlete posted an all time high score with 7 of 12 posting their high score at the Prep School Championship. Personal all-time high scores for the 200 point matches and season averages are as follows:

  • Oleg Kolchanov '22 193(C) 2nd place at the championship, high team season avg.:185
  • Aiden Conroy '22 181(C) 4th high season avg.:173.8
  • Clayton Donahue '22 181 3rd season team avg.:174.2 
  • Zain Burki '21 181 2nd high team avg.:175
  • Liam Curley '21 178 6th high team avg.:171.4
  • Stratton Pratt '23 178(C) 7th high team avg. only championship perfect prone score of 50-5X
  • Paul Kim '22 178(C) 5th high team average: 171.6
  • Anthony Lawson '21 176(C) 10th high team avg.:156
  • Jake Backman '22 175(C)
  • Brian Nguyen '22 170     8th high team avg.:157
  • Lucas Estevez '22 165(C)
  • Grant Weber '23 163 9th high team avg.:157

The ‘Most Improved Athlete Award’ could go to many. However, one athlete started at a low level, but worked very hard each practice session and posted a solid 170 out of 200 versus Xavier on Jan 29, almost double his early scores. The most improved Athlete is Brian Nguyen '22!

With the loss of experienced senior and student coaches, the team needed a person to set up relays with a view of shared equipment, illnesses, etc. both for training sessions and matches and to help pick a 10-man team for upcoming competition, score targets at matches and more. This athlete often sacrificed his own training to help new team members, with significant success. The Coaches Award with strong support goes to Liam Curley '21.

SWIMMING

VARSITY SQUASH

This season, Varsity Squash had another very strong showing, managing a 14-win, 3-loss record throughout regular scheduled matches. In one of our biggest and closest matches of the season, we faced a significantly improved Kent School team, that dealt us a very hard-fought 3-4 loss, in what would prove to be the deciding factor in their win of this year's Founders League Championship. 

Moving forward, we set our sights on the US High School National Team Championships - based on regular season results and strength of schedule, the team was given a seeding of ninth overall in the top division (out of a total of 112 boys teams competing from across the nation). We went into the weekend feeling confident that we could match almost any team we came across. With some clutch wins in some big matches, the team managed to finish the weekend earning fifth place in the country, with our only loss being against eventual winners, the Brunswick School. 

With the season drawing to a close at the Division 1 New England Championships at Choate Rosemary Hall, the team went in feeling the effects of a busy couple of weeks. Seeded third for the event, we finished in sixth place overall, but had a couple of standout performances by team-members, Hudson Dunn ’23 and Henry Culhane ’20, who managed to chalk up a perfect record at their positions over the weekend. 

This year, our Coach’s Award went to a first-year team member who consistently displayed the values that we as coaches look for in an athlete. A willingness to listen, the aptitude to learn, and a desire to compete, all while doing so with a positive attitude and sportsmanship. With a perfect 1 and 0 record for matches that were recorded in the top seven, this year’s Coach’s Award went to Tommy Baldini ’23.

It’s always gratifying as a coach to watch a player enter your program, work hard day-in, day-out, and put in the extra work because they want to see improvements and keep working towards a higher level of play. That’s exactly what freshman Hudson Dunn did this season. Hudson entered the season, with a US Squash player rating around 4.9, and looked like he would occupy the season as our number five on the team, but he kept working on his game, improved his consistency and movement, and finished the season as one of the league's top number three’s, and a player rating of 5.21. 

The MVP award goes to the player who finished the season with the best personal record. Not only did this player finish the season with a record of 17 wins, four losses across all competitions, but he did so at one of the most difficult positions on the ladder. With a strong work ethic, and a very consistent approach to his squash, CJ Baldini ’21 is this year's Varsity Squash MVP.

WRESTLING

The 2019-20 Wrestling Team met or exceeded all expectations this year. With smaller than usual numbers, this team performed well all season. With a 19-10 dual-meet record, we competed well. We took beatings from the top schools, issued beatings of our own to weaker teams, and beat most Founder’s League teams, with the exception of Trinity Pawling.

The post-season was successful. Avon placed fourth in the Western New England League and placed eighth at the New England Championship Tournament (held this year at the State Armory in Hartford, Connecticut). We qualified five wrestlers for the Prep Nationals, held at Lehigh University, with mixed results.

Our team was led by very capable captains this year. Seniors Aiden Maag, Mark Schadt, and junior Dylan Kasperzyk provided the leadership to inspire this year’s diverse team. We are going to miss the talents and tenacity of seniors David Helsley, Matt Son, Po Lam Fung, Kai Grocki and Sammy Holleran as well. But the future looks bright. We have a cadre of returners that will focus the team’s efforts next year, including Owen Cronin ’22, George Brannon ’22, Augie “Boots” Berklas ’21, James Mullen ’22, Dylan Kasperzyk ’21, Brian Namnoum ’21, Hobie Jamison ’21, and Alex Salgar ’22.  

We are also looking forward to our newest wrestlers returning: YoAn Zhao ’23, Ryan Choi ’23, Joshua Vazquez ’23, Grif “Willie 2” Williams ’23, Jack Oneglia ’23, Kieran Davey ’23, Ben “BW” Wong ’23, Liam Runyon ’23, Brian Sappington ’21, and Aidan Schleer ’21.

Special recognition was bestowed upon the following wrestlers for their outstanding work, effort and performance this year:

  • Most Valuable Wrestler: Aiden Maag '20
  • Most Improved Wrestler: Owen Cronin '22
  • Lew Smith ’75 Leadership Award: Mark Schadt '20
  • Coach’s Award: Matt Son '20 and Sam Holleran '20