Winter Sports Season Preview 2018-19

Coach Liz Bona will begin her fourteenth year on the bench for Newark Academy’s girls’ basketball team and plans to rely on the veteran leadership of seniors Ivy Bethea and Sam Keller as the team navigates its Super Essex Conference Liberty Division schedule. While the team lost a valuable starter in guard Maria Armas to graduation, Coach Bona expects that seniors Molly Feldman and Kyra Cooperman and juniors Nora Gaby-Biegel and Kyra Hermans will help make up for her absence. The NJSIAA Prep B division tournament in February will be a benchmark for the team’s progress this season and the development of a very strong freshman class will hopefully be on full display. 
Coach Tim McCall believes that, while small in numbers, Winter Track has significant talent this season. The team will benefit from the experienced leadership of senior Sophie Licostie. In addition, the squad will be joined by three members of the 2018 Non-Public B Boys’ State Championship Cross Country team: Jackson Powers ’20, Peter Swope ’20, and Pravan Chakravarthy ’21. SEC American Division first team runner Molly Cantillon ’21, SEC American Division second team runner Kira Lu ’20 will help the girls’ team. In addition, the team will benefit in field events and sprints by senior James Blume (pole vault) and first-year Selah Dungey (high jump, long jump and sprints). Winter Track will zero in on the State Groups Relay Meet the State Prep Meet, and the Non-Public B Group Meet. 
Swimming Coach Billy Blomn, the longest tenured coach at Newark Academy, targets improving overall win totals from last year, bettering finishes at the Super Essex Conference and Prep meets and advancing further in the state tournament as the key goals for both boys and girls swimming this year. For the girls, improving on state tournament results can only mean a return to the state final and a state championship. Much of the success of both teams will hinge on the performances of key returners Bridget Bowen ’19 and Monique Iben ’19 for the girls, and David You ’19 and Evan MacGregor ’19 for the boys. Top newcomers for both programs include Ali Elmasry ’22 on the boys’ side and Maya Lily Knoller ’22 for the girls. Additionally, Danning Hu ’20, who starred as a freshman but did not swim for NA her sophomore year, returns to bolster an already strong lineup for the girls’. The afore mentioned SEC and Prep meets have been circled on the swimming calendar as important benchmarks for the team’s success, and key dual meets versus Caldwell, Montclair, Columbia and West Orange will reveal much about the team’s depth as well. 
First-year head boys’ basketball coach Deon Mingo is excited to join the Newark Academy athletic family and cites, as a personal goal, making sure that being a part of the basketball program is a positive experience for his players. Winning the Freedom Division of the Super Essex Conference is the team’s primary competitive goal, one that Coach Mingo sees as being attainable. The trio of seniors of Will Hutchinson, Will Mulligan and Nate Perrello will be the determining factor for the team in its pursuit of that division title. While the team returns most of its core from last season, three fresh faces will probably vie for competitive minutes; junior Michael Wang, sophomore Jeremey Luo and freshman Chase Clark ’22. Coach Mingo sees the Princeton Day School game and the Prep B Tournament as being important litmus tests for the team’s development this season. 
Another first-year head coach, Dan Baily-Yavonditte, will take the helm of Newark Academy’s fencing team this season, one in which he hopes to lay a foundation for skills and conditioning for his fencers. Captains are seniors Zach Burd and Simon Gorbaty on the boys’ side, and Abby Parker and Unnathy Nellutla for the girls’. Coach B-Y is especially excited about the addition of freshman fencer Konrad Czyzewski ’22 to the boys’ saber program, citing his experience at the local, regional and national levels. As is usually the case, the Minutemen fencers are focused on the Santelli and Cetulo tournaments as one of the season’s high points. 
Class of 2008 and first-year wrestling head coach John Sternlicht’s goals for the wrestling team this winter are more technical than they are achievement-oriented. He wants them to always be one step ahead of their opponents, never get pinned and to turn defensive situations into scoring opportunities. Instilling this mindset into the team will be the partial responsibility of Tommy Hales, the lone senior on the mat this winter and the only returner with NJ Regional Tournament experience. Another responsibility that will fall on Tommy is helping daily in practice to prepare his younger brother, Billy ’21, who will contend with some of the best wrestlers in the area this year and who, Sternlicht says, has the potential to make some noise in Atlantic City at the New Jersey State Tournament before his Newark Academy career comes to an end. For team success, NA will lean on a core group of juniors (Seth Levine, Jonathan Liang, David Afolabi, Rahul Lal, and Thomas Weinstock). Finally, Sternlicht has high hopes for two freshmen, Dominik Tasse and Yihun Stith. Sternlicht describes every match as being important, but is working hard to keep his grapplers focused on the season opener versus Newark East Side.