Top 10: Plays of 2009-2010

A crowded wall in Swanson Gymnasium

2009-2010 was a remarkable year for the Bears as 2 League Championships, 4 County Championships, 3 Long Island Championships, and our first State Championship were added to our brimming trophy cases and gymnasium walls. Championships are not won without exceptional athletes and transcendent performances and here are the best of both from the 88th year of Stony Brook Athletics.

Honorable Mention

Taylor Colucci @ Division Championships | May 24th

In the preliminaries of the 200 meter dash, Taylor Colucci sped to the best time of the day in 22.54, his personal best, the 8th best time of the year in Suffolk County and the best among sophomores.

Josh Smith @ Suffolk County Tournament | February 12-13th

Smith began the winter season hungry to make his mark after missing all of last year’s wrestling season with a broken ankle, suffered in a practice bout. Smith’s strong season culminated in a 4th place finish at the Suffolk County Tournament and a 3-2 record.  “The great thing about Josh this past season,” commented wrestling coach Mark Maningo, “is that he was always the smaller man in height, but always able to utilize his legs and strength to keep his larger opponents under control.”

Kelsey Wentling @ Frosh/Soph Championships | May 20th

In an impressive showing at the Frosh/Soph Championships, Kelsey Wentling finished 4th in the 100 meter hurdles in 17.89 and 6th in the 400 meter hurdles in 1:11.43, her two best times of the season.

Taylor Colucci @ Frosh/Soph Championships | May 20th

“Dominating” is a fitting word to describe Taylor Colucci’s day at the Frosh/Soph Championships. The fastest sophomore in Suffolk County won the 100 meter dash in 11.38, the 200 meter dash in 23.63 and finished 4th in the 400 meter dash in 51.94, in only his third time ever running the race.

The Top 10 Plays of 2009-2010

#10 Tim Pandolfi vs. Friends Academy | March 9th

The eight-point cushion the boys’ basketball team enjoyed entering the fourth quarter had all but evaporated. Leading by only 3 points with 2:05 remaining in the Long Island Championship, the Quakers had possession and a number of long-range sharpshooters eager to knot the contest. With the game on the line, Tim Pandolfi rose to the occasion once again during the 2010 postseason by stealing the ball from the point guard and racing up the floor for a layup that broke the backs of the Friends Academy, our former Ivy League rival. In one of the biggest moments of the season Pandolfi came through again.

Pandolfi seals it vs. Friends Academy

#9 4×400 Relay Team @ Suffolk County Relays | May 8th

In one of the finest 4×400 meter relay performances in recent memory, Taylor Colucci, Khoren Lawson, Jon Wentling, and Carlo Masakayan combined to run a blazing 3:29.34 to finish 2nd in the Suffolk County Relays. At the Penn Relays on April 23rd, the team ran 3:35.18, and in a span of only 15 days shaved off an impressive 5.44 seconds. Masakayan remembered the feeling of running such a great time:

Since I was the 2nd leg, I was able to watch the clock run as Taylor and Jon ran the last two legs. Amazingly, my legs weren’t that worn out but I was super ecstatic about the time. I knew that for the past few years none of the teams I’ve been on have been able to pass the 3:30 mark.

#8 Taylor Colucci @ Division Championships | May 24th

In the preliminaries of the 100 meter dash at the Division Championships, what he would call his “favorite race of the year,” Taylor Colucci blazed to the fastest time of the day in 11.13. It was Colucci’s fastest FAT (Fully Automatic Time) of his career and good enough for 8th best in the entire county and fastest among all sophomores for the 2010 season. Colucci would go on to win the Division Championship in the 100 meter final. Taylor recounted his memorable race:

Right when the official said, ‘On your mark,’ I thanked God for allowing me to run. I wasn’t nervous because I knew I was running for Him. The best part of my race was the start, right out of the blocks. I came out low and quick and after 20 meters I couldn’t see anyone around me and I knew that this was going to be a personal record. This was without a doubt the highlight of my track year.

#7 Kelsey Wentling vs. Seton Catholic | November 20th

After 96 minutes our girls’ soccer team was locked in a stalemate with Seton Catholic in the New York State Semifinals. Then, with 3:12 left in the first overtime, Kelsey Wentling received a pass from Michelle Hennessy, dribbled 20 yards downfield, and chipped the ball over the opposing keeper from a very difficult angle for her tenth and most important goal of the season. The goal placed Stony Brook in its first State Championship in any sport. Unfortunately, the hero of the game was unable to play in the State final because her duties as Maid of Honor for her sister outweighed those for the Bears, but despite her absence she could know she scored one of the biggest goals in Stony Brook history.

It was such a long game and I was just thankful that the game was almost over. I knew we were going to win when the Seton players started to slow down, all we needed was one shot and it felt amazing seeing the ball go in the net, knowing we made history. I was so happy we got to States, even though I couldn’t go.

~ Kelsey on her game-winning strike

Wentling battles in the State Semi-Final

#6 Khoren Lawson @ St. Anthony’s Invitational | April 30th

At the prestigious St. Anthony’s Invitational, Khoren Lawson obliterated our school’s 45-year-old triple jump record with a hop, skip, and jump of 44′ 2.5″. Khoren surpassed the previous record of 43′ 7″, held by Bernard Mumo ’65, by an incredible 7.5″, but Khoren was lucky to even get a chance to jump, showing up late after every other competitor had already jumped. Fortunately, the referee allowed him to compete and Stony Brook history was made. He finished 7th in the meet and the jump was good enough for 11th best in the entire county for the 2010 season.

I had heard my competitors’ distances and was a little timid after hearing the results of the other jumpers, but decided to give it my all. After taking my first jump, and going about 5 inches from the school record, I knew from then that I was going to break it. I had all the right conditions including the weather, a good warm-up, and confidence. As I got ready to jump, with the eyes of all the jumpers piercing my skin, probably thinking, ‘He’s not even going to make finals, what’s the point,’ I was ready to prove myself to the world. I ran as fast as my body permitted me down the runway, landed perfectly on the board and was off. This jump was special, it felt like nothing before, I got the perfect height and distance. As I walked away thinking that I hit 42′, the referee shouted, ’43’2-1/2.”‘ Instantly, I was overjoyed, thinking to myself, ‘This one is for you, Dad.'”

~ Khoren on his record-breaking performance

Taylor Colucci (left) and Khoren Lawson

#5 Taylor Colucci vs. Port Jefferson | April 7th

In the first meet of the season against rival Port Jefferson, sophomore Taylor Colucci burst out of the gates by tying the school’s 100 meter dash record with a hand-timed 10.9, one of three occasions he accomplished this feat during the dual meet season. Blessed with an unseasonable 88-degree afternoon, Colucci took off and never looked back, taking 1st place. With the brilliant time he joined Kevin Lockerbie ’77 and Matt Mattimore ’95 as the fastest men in school history.

When the official was reading out the time he said, ‘First was lane three, 10.9.’ Once I heard this I yelled out because this was my fastest time ever and also a tie for the school record.

~ Taylor on his blistering time

#4 Tory Abrahamsen & Lesedi Malete vs. McGann-Mercy | September 11th

The football team opened its season at the home of heated rival McGann-Mercy, earning a wild, rain-soaked victory beneath the Friday night lights. Trailing as the fourth quarter waned, Stony Brook needed someone to rise to the occasion and save the team from a painful defeat. That player was senior quarterback Tory Abrahamsen who was playing in his first football game. On a button-hook, Abrahamsen found All-County player Lesedi Malete who snagged it, spun, and took it 60-yards for the touchdown in the biggest play of the season. “Beating your rivals, at their place, in a two-minute drill, with a game-winning pass is something you dream about,” remembered Abrahamsen. “Actually doing it was an incredible experience and easily something I will remember the rest of my life.” Malete echoed this sentiment when he recalled the moment of the season:

Words cannot explain how I felt putting my team on my shoulders and giving them the privilege of a victory. It was priceless. When that ball went up in the air I had nothing in my head except trying to get in position to catch Tory’s pass. As soon as I caught it I saw the DB was out of position and made one move to the outside and just let my legs run as fast as possible.

Pandolfi 2010 Counties Basketball
Pandolfi steps back for the game-winning 3

#3 Tim Pandolfi vs. Southold | February 20th

The boys’ basketball team trailed the undefeated (18-0) Southold Settlers, 45-44, with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the County Championship. On what could have been the final possession of the season, Mike Webster set a screen for Tim Pandolfi who, instead of dribbling toward the basket, stepped back and launched a 3-pointer from five feet behind the arc. The ball fell through the net, solidifying Pandolfi’s reputation as a clutch performer and giving the Bears a lead they would not relinquish on the way to the second County Championship in their history.

Before the game I remember telling myself that I was not going to let my team lose again in the Class C Championship, so when we were trailing in the fourth quarter I knew I had to make something happen. I made a couple of shots earlier on in the quarter and got into a rhythm, so that last long three I made was a walk in the park. I knew it was money as soon as I shot it.

~ Pandolfi on his peerless 3-pointer that felled Southold

#2 Michelle Hennessy vs. Sauquoit Valley | November 21st

The New York State Championship was deadlocked at 1-1 when Michelle Hennessy scored the game-winning goal 6:35 into the second half on a strike from 20 yards, assisted by Donna Liotine. Hennessy deflected Liotine’s 25 yard pass off of her right heel, then buried the volley with the same foot to stun all in attendance. “She’s a good ball player,” Sauquoit Valley coach Tim Clive told the Utica Observer-Dispatch of Hennessy. “We had a tough time marking up on her.” Michelle Hennessy recounted her incredible moment:

After the Sauquoit fans’ moment of silence the first word that came into my head after the ball reached the back of the net was ‘defense’ and then, of course, that this could be Stony Brook School history.

#1 Donna Liotine vs. Sauquoit Valley | November 21st

The Bears soccer team was trailing the undefeated (22-0) and #1 ranked team in New York State with 25:39 remaining in the 1st half when Donna Liotine stepped up to a free kick. After setting up her ball, she unleashed a 30-yard blast that curved just above a wall of Indian defenders and into the upper right corner of the goal to knot the State Championship at 1-1. It was Liotine’s 21st and most important goal of the season.  She remembered her incredible moment:

As soon as the foul was called I didn’t feel pressured or nervousness. I did what I know best, and blasted it into the top corner. I must have watched the replay at least 30 times, as well as talked through it step by step with fans who watched the game, and I still get that feeling of excitement each time. As captain, I felt scoring the tie-breaking goal was put on my shoulders. I knew that I had to be the one to replenish the faith that we all had as a team. My SBS family had more confidence in me then I had for myself and I was determined not to let them down. This will be one of the most incredible moments of my life.

The Play of the Year: Donna Liotine strikes the equalizer in the State Final


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