Weekly Feature



2015-12-30 / Sports

Athletes make memories during fruitful 2015

JASON NADOLINSKI
Sports Reporter

History was made.

Records were broken.

Titles were claimed.

And one hard-working, determined college senior made her professional debut in the sport of her choice over the summer.

All in all, 2015 was another banner year for a great deal of Clarence residents on their respective playing field of choice. Here’s a look back at some of the standout achievements that were recorded over the past 12 months:

January

• Jake Saeli established a new school record in air rifle Jan. 6, posting a score of 285 out of a possible 300 points to guide Clarence’s rifle team to a 1,082-1,029 victory over Orchard Park.

• Clarence’s wrestling team topped Williamsville North on Jan. 7, 47-27, to take some momentum into the weekend’s tournament action. Nate Schwab picked up his 183rd career victory on the night to become the program’s new career wins record holder. Schwab also won the 170-pound title at the ECIC Championships, held Jan. 17, going 3-0 on the day.


Meghan Neelon, left, and Karley King proudly displayed the plaque Clarence’s girls volleyball team earned Nov. 14 by defeating Webster Schroeder in this year’s Class AA Far West Regional. The win advanced Clarence to its first-ever state semifinals appearance. 
File photo by Jake French Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Meghan Neelon, left, and Karley King proudly displayed the plaque Clarence’s girls volleyball team earned Nov. 14 by defeating Webster Schroeder in this year’s Class AA Far West Regional. The win advanced Clarence to its first-ever state semifinals appearance. File photo by Jake French Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com • Clarence’s hockey team was supposed to face Brockport in Jan. 9’s opening round of the Canandaigua Tournament, but Mother Nature wound up having other plans. The squads were able to meet up after the fact Jan. 17 in what coach Rick Brooks christened the “unofficial” tournament championship — since both squads won their first games of the tournament— and, despite some ups and downs throughout the course of the afternoon, the Red Devils were able to ultimately prevail, 4-3, following a shootout.


Sydney Cerza had another season for the girls lacrosse record books during the spring, becoming the program’s all-time leading goal scorer when she recorded six tallies during Clarence’s 19-2 win over Lockport May 11. Cerza, who was named The Clarence Bee’s Female Athlete of the Year for the 2014-15 school year, entered the playoffs with 193 goals, shattering the old mark of 181. 
File photo by Jake French Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sydney Cerza had another season for the girls lacrosse record books during the spring, becoming the program’s all-time leading goal scorer when she recorded six tallies during Clarence’s 19-2 win over Lockport May 11. Cerza, who was named The Clarence Bee’s Female Athlete of the Year for the 2014-15 school year, entered the playoffs with 193 goals, shattering the old mark of 181. File photo by Jake French Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Clarence won the six-round shootout, 3-2, with Dylan Lock tallying the clinching goal.

February

• Gabbi Pacatte put together one of the most complete individual performances ever by a Clarence girls basketball player Feb. 6, falling two steals shy of a quadruple double in guiding the Lady Red Devils to a 71-46 victory over West Seneca West. Pacatte finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to post one of the program’s rare triple-doubles; records for the feat, unfortunately, are not kept by the athletics department.


Nate Schwab, top, became the wrestling program’s all-time wins leader with his 183rd victory Jan. 7 during the Red Devils’ triumph over Williamsville North. 
File photo by Jake French Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Nate Schwab, top, became the wrestling program’s all-time wins leader with his 183rd victory Jan. 7 during the Red Devils’ triumph over Williamsville North. File photo by Jake French Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com • After a season-opening loss to Sweet Home, Clarence’s boys bowling team ran the table to finish tied atop the ECIC North Large School division to share the regular season championship with the Panthers. Clarence’s “A” squad had games of 871, 850 and 899 — a 2,620 total —for an average of 218 pins to help secure the victory over Amherst Feb. 3 that clinched a share of the title.

• A pair of record-setting performances highlighted the state-championship qualifying efforts that Clarence’s indoor track team turned in during Feb. 21’s Section VI Championships, which was held for the first time at Houghton College.

Britton Mann broke his own school record in the shot put by just over eight inches, placing third with a heave of 53-feet-3¾ that hit the state qualifier standard in the process, which allowed him to secure a berth at states without winning the event. The girls’ team, meanwhile, saw Talia Williams break a 20-year old school record in the 600 with her winning time of 1 minute, 38.99 seconds.

• Clarence’s boys basketball team continued to gain confidence and momentum during the backstretch of the regular season to enter the playoffs having won four of its final five games. The Red Devils kicked off their final week of regular-season play with a 69-57 win over Frontier on Feb. 18 in which Adam Southern knocked down five three-point baskets and was a flawless 8-for-8 from the free-throw line en route to posting a career-high 25 points.

Three other Red Devils scored in double figures on the night as Clarence finished an amazing 19-for-20 from the charity stripe for the game as a team.

March

• After suffering the first sprained ankle of her career a week earlier, Gabbi Pacatte’s availability for Clarence’s quarterfinal round clash with third-seeded Kenmore West in March 3’s Section VI Class AA girls basketball quarterfinal was questionable at best — not that you would have known if you saw the performance she put on for the sixth-seeded Lady Red Devils in their 54-39 triumph.

Pacatte, who didn’t even enter the game until there were just a couple of minutes left in the first quarter, finished the contest with 14 points, eight steals, seven rebounds, seven assists and two blocks to come tantalizingly close to a quadruple double.

• Josh Slowinski was named an Honorable Mention forward on the All-Bee Hockey Team, and Gabbi Pacatte was named an All-Bee Girls Basketball Second Team All-star.

• Clarence’s girls 4x800-meter relay foursome of Hannah Reinhardt, Katrina Patterson, Talia Williams and Dana Warner took just over three seconds off the previous Section VI record with their combined time of 9:26.91 seconds that was good for ninth place at the New Balance Indoor Track and Field Nationals at Armory Track in New York City.

• Junior center Sydney Cerza picked up right where she left off in a 2014 campaign that resulted in Second Team All-WNY and First Team All-Bee honors, scoring seven goals and assisting on three others to guide Clarence’s girls lacrosse team to a season opening 21-7 shelling of Niagara Falls on March 25.

April

• Clarence’s softball team has wasted little time establishing a solid presence at the plate through the first handful of games of the 2015 season. Everything pretty much came together as close to perfectly as is possible for Clarence in April 14’s season-opening 9-2 win over Williamsville East.

The Lady Red Devils exploded for four runs in the fourth inning — taking a 4-1 lead in the process — and added five more in the fifth to put the game out of reach. Gabby Keller, who was 13-for-15 at that point, recorded two-run doubles in both the fourth and fifth innings to help spearhead Clarence’s attack.

• Josh Slowinski joined some extremely elite company when it comes to all-time greats in Clarence’s boys lacrosse program history April 18 when he scored his 100th career goal — becoming just the third Red Devil to ever hit that mark — as part of the team’s 9-7 triumph over Rochester’s Webster Schroeder. He finished the game with two goals and three assists.

The team then made history April 20 when it defeated Orchard Park on the road, 13-9, to earn the program’s first-ever victory over the Quakers as the visiting squad. The adrenaline surge that guided Clarence to that victory then carried over to the Red Devils’ contest against Lockport two days later, and lifted the team to a staggering 20-0 shutout — the Red Devils’ first shutout since a 12-0 whitewashing of those same Lions in 2012.

• Jon Snitzer came up with the pitching performance that Clarence’s baseball team was seeking April 24, as his complete game two hitter helped give the Red Devils the confidence they needed to secure an 11-2 victory over Jamestown. Aside from the two hits, Snitzer allowed just one earned run and struck out five in his first appearance in a varsity game. It was also the squad’s first win of the season.

May

• Britton Mann threw the discus a personal best 153-feet-10 to win the event against what boys track coach Kevin Mc- Cuen called “a good field of throwers” to lead Clarence’s charge towards a second place team finish at the annual Pioneer Invitational, held May 2. Mann also took second in the shot put.

• Clarence’s girls lacrosse team snapped out of a three-game slump by winning three of its four final games of the regular season — and crowned a new all-time goal scoring champion in the process.

• Sydney Cerza became the Lady Red Devils’ leader in career goals scored thanks to her six tallies during Clarence’s 19-2 triumph over Lockport on May 11. Cerza, who enters the postseason with 193 career tallies, surpassed the 15-year old record of 181 goals as one of eight different goal scorers on the day against the Lady Lions.

• Alexis Kim and Madison Cooper both placed in the top nine at the Section VI Girls Golf Championships, held at Gowanda Country Club, to earn two of the nine qualifying spots to the state championships. Kim was Clarence’s top finisher, shooting a 94 over 18 holes to earn the fourth place finish. Cooper finished in ninth place, shooting a 107 over 18 holes.

June

• Five members of Clarence’s girls track team and one member of the boys track squad competed in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Track and Field Championships thanks to their respective performances at the annual Section VI Championships, held this year at Niagara Wheatfield.

Katrina Patterson won the 3,000-meter run with her time of 10:26.66 on the first day of the competition to earn the girls team’s only individual berth at states. Patterson was also a member of the state-qualifying 4x800 relay team, along with Hannah Reinhardt, Liz Rott and Dana Warner, that won its race in a season-best 9:25.37. And after just missing on a spot at states last spring, Britton Mann was able to punch his ticket to Albany with his second-place shot put heave of 55-feet-2.

• Josh Slowinski was named the Boys Team’s MVP, while Katie Schlagenhauf (defense) and Sydney Cerza (midfield) were named to the Girls’ Second and Honorable Mention Teams, respectively, on this year’s All-Bee Lacrosse Team. Gabby Keller (infield) and Ashley Carney (outfield) were named Second Team All-stars, meanwhile, on the All-Bee Softball Team.

• Most college students home for the summer either worked part-time jobs or participated in internships, or just relaxed while taking a bit of a break from the rigors of academia. Cat Peters, however, wasn’t among either of those groups. Instead, the University of Michigan senior worked hard at making a good first impression on the women’s professional golf circuit after firing a 2-under-par 70 at the Meijer LPGA Collegiate Invitational on June 23, which gave her an exemption to compete in the Meijer LPGA Classic July 23-26 at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

July

• Girls volleyball’s Michael Meyer (Coach), the girls soccer squad (Team), Sydney Cerza (Female Athlete) and Josh Slowinski (Male Athlete) took home top honors from The Bee for the 2014-15 school year.

• Though it didn’t result in an unexpected Rocky Balboa underdog moment where she came out of nowhere to claim victory, Clarence native Cat Peters’ first appearance at an LPGA event went about as well as was she hoping it would leading up to the recently-completed Meijer Classic. The tournament, presented by Kraft and held from July 23-26 at the Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, gave Peters the opportunity to size up her game against some of the best female professional golfers in the world after she earned one of two exemptions for college athletes. She finished the tournament at 12-over-par 154 for two rounds.

August

• The 2015 Western New York Junior PGA tournament season came to an end August 11 with the tour’s annual two-round Tour Championship, which coincided with the naming of the tour’s Players of the Year for its six different divisions. Placing first among the boys 13-15 division competitors was Clarence resident Richy Felber, whose round of 73 at Blue Heron Hills and 79 at Webster gave him a nine-over par total of 152 strokes. Par at Blue Heron Hills is 71, while par at Webster is 72.

• Brennan’s was victorious over The Spartans, 17-11, in the championship game of the Clarence Men’s 40 and Over Softball League, while the Cornerstone Bar and Grill Spartans edged out Busch League, 16-15, in the final game of the Clarence Men’s Open Softball League’s double-elimination playoff tournament to claim its third championship victory in five years.

• Clarence residents Lizzie Fitch, Jenna Arent, Ella Kelkenberg and Maggie Kelkenberg won the 11-12 division of the Wilson Harbor Hoops 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament on Aug. 8 and followed that up by placing third out of 12 teams in their division at the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Tournament in Olean Aug. 15-16.

September

• “An overall team effort” is how Clarence field hockey coach Beth Brawn described the Lady Red Devils’ season-opening 6-0 triumph over Holland Sept. 4, as a number of players each stepped up in their individual areas of expertise to contribute to the squad’s success.

• The Clarence Chamber of Commerce honored Clarence native and former National Hockey League player Kevyn Adams as its Sportsman of the Year.

• A different dance partner in the end wasn’t enough to throw Clarence’s girls volleyball team off its collective game in the Gold Division’s finals at Sept. 19’s annual Clarence Tournament, as the Lady Red Devils walked away with the top prize for the second straight year. This time it was Sacred Heart that came up on the short side of the championship game, as the Lady Red Devils topped them by 25-11, 25-11 scores to claim the title of the tournament.

• A Monsignor Martin Association school then felt the wrath of Clarence’s girls volleyball team in the championship game of a tournament for the second straight weekend as the Lady Red Devils took down St. Mary’s of Lancaster in Sept. 26’s title contest at the Eden Girls Volleyball Tournament. Clarence took down three defending state champions on its way to that title.

October

• Clarence’s football team, weary from playing the bulk of its games on the road during the first half of the season, was eager to have the chance to play in front of its home fans Oct. 2 — and the Red Devils wasted little time in showing their appreciation for the legions of fans who came out for Clarence’s first-ever Homecoming Game played under the lights on a Friday night. The Red Devils jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead and never looked back, winning 27-8.

• Clarence’s girls cross-country team defended its AA-2 race championship at Oct. 3’s prestigious annual McQuaid Invitational, beating out 33 other teams in the field as every Lady Red Devil to compete in the race posted a personal-best time.

• Sydney Cerza became the first player to cross the 100-goal threshold for her career during the Lady Red Devils’ win over Lancaster Oct. 5.

• Clarence golfer Randy Felber fired the third-lowest score of the day, a 78, to earn All-ECIC All-star status and a spot in the spring’s Section VI Championships while competing at the ECIC Individual Championships Oct. 13 at Sheridan Park Golf Course. Younger brother Richy Felber (tie-seventh; 79) also earned All-ECIC All-star status and a spot at sectionals.

• Senior Nicole Kozinski secured her fourth consecutive trip to the state girls tennis tournament Oct. 24 by defeating Southwestern’s Morgan Johnson, 6-2, 6-0, in the third-place match at the Section VI Championships.

November

• Clarence’s girls cross-country team used three top-five finishes to edge out defending Class A champion Williamsville North, 37-50, and win this year’s Section VI championship during Nov. 6’s muddy, windy race at Sunshine Park in West Seneca.

• Clarence’s success on the soccer field didn’t go unnoticed by the area’s girls soccer coaches as the Lady Red Devils, who returned to the Class AA state final four this fall, earned First Team spots at forward (Sydney Cerza), midfield (Riley Bowers), defense (Hannah Spitzer) and goalie (Molly Barden) on this year’s All-Bee Team. Midfielder Anna Davies and defenseman Talia Williams also earned Honorable Mention All-star status.

• Forward Sam Sutherland, meanwhile, earned First Team status and goalie Kyle Cunningham earned Second Team status for the boys’ All-Bee Team.

• Clarence’s girls swimming squad showcased its depth Nov. 5 and 6 as the Lady Red Devils, despite not winning a single event, edged out Orchard Park, 303-297, to take the team title at the annual Section VI Championships at ECC’s Burt Flickinger Center.

• Clarence’s girls volleyball team made its mark on the history books Nov. 14 when the Lady Red Devils took down Section V’s Webster Schroeder in this year’s Class AA Far West Regional at Pioneer High School to earn their first-ever appearance in the state semifinals.

• Defending state champion Massapequa played spoiler to Clarence’s girls soccer team for a second straight season Nov. 14, as the Lady Red Devils were upended by the Section VIII squad, 2-0, during the Lady Chiefs’ run to a second consecutive state Class AA championship in Cortland.

December

• Molly Barden hit all three of her three-point baskets and scored 11 of her career-high 21 points in the first quarter of the girls basketball team’s 55-44 win over Starpoint Dec. 4. She also had nine steals and three assists.

• Eight Clarence students joined the ranks of the Amherst/Sweet Home girls hockey team to help fortify that squad’s ranks.

• Girls basketball coach Erin Booker picked up the first win of her career against Jamestown – home or away – when the Lady Red Devils topped the Lady Red Raiders, 44-40, on Dec. 18.

• The boys swimming team joined forces with Starpoint Dec. 18 to beat the “South” team of Orchard Park and East Aurora by 11 points in Clarence’s annual Quad meet.

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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