by JOHN JACKSON, Sports Editor
Both teams kicked off their seasons with a Draddy Gymnasium double-header on Nov. 6. The women’s team took down LIU Brooklyn 61-46 while the men fell 62-56 to Elon.
Since then, the women have been on a five-game losing streak; three of those game being decided by six or less points. The men picked up two wins in their next six contests with both coming at the Kemi Northern Kentucky Basketball Classic which was held from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18.
The women and men play six and five more games in 2018, respectively, before MAAC play begins on Jan. 3.
Before the semester even began, a big name was added to the mix when former Jasper, two-time Olympian and nine-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Matt Centrowitz was hired as director of the cross country and track and field programs.
Both the men’s and women’s teams participated in five team meets over the course of the season: The Fordham University Fiasco, the Army West Point Open, the Paul Short Run, the Metropolitan Championship and the MAAC Championship. The men placed second of 11, fourth of six, 39th of 41, second of 10 and fifth of 11, respectively in the five meets. The women on the other hand placed third of 13, fourth of five, 32nd of 41, second of 11 and seventh of 11, respectively.
Two runners who consistently led the Jaspers were freshman Hali Ielfield and senior Lisa Fajardo. At the Fordham Fiasco race, Fajardo and Ielfield earned second and third place finishes, respectively in a field of 124 runners. The tables turned at the Paul Short Run as Ielfield finished 14th while Fajardo finished 16th in a field of 353 runners. Fajardo won the Metropolitan Championship as Ielfield took fourth place out of 92 runners. At the MAAC Championship, Fajardo secured a fifth-place finish while Ielfield secured a 12th-place finish with 149 runners, en route to MAAC Most Outstanding Rookie honors.
The two runners also participated at NCAA regionals where Ielfield took 58th out of 244 runners and Fajardo came in two-tenths of a second later for a 59th place finish. Fajardo also took second in a field of 153 runners at the ECAC Championship and fourth in field of 71 runners at the Army West Point Open.
The men’s golf team entered the fall semester with a new look. Phil Wildermuth was hired as the team’s new coach and only junior Preston Shortell returned as the six other members of the 2017-2018 team graduated in May.
The team welcomed three freshmen in Sam Taraian, Jimmy Escoto and Joseph Busiello, three sophomores in Laurent Span, Brendan Leslie and Collin Grady and one junior in Georgy Chernov to round out the team at eight student-athletes.
The golfers participated in four tournaments: the Doc Gimmler, the Bucknell Invitational, the ODU/OBX Intercollegiate and Metropolitan Intercollegiate. The results were similar in the first three tournaments as Manhattan finished second-to-last in each (13th of 14, 17th of 18 and 17th of 18, respectively). They fared better in their final tournament as they finished 12th of 15.
They will have another set of tournaments lined up in the spring before concluding with the MAAC Tournament in late April. The golfers performed well the last three seasons at the MAAC Tournament with third place finishes in 2018 and 2017, and a second place finish in 2016.
The Jasper Dancers held tryouts on Sept. 8 and 9 for prospective dancers. Two new members joined a group of eight returning members. Following the tryouts, the dancers began practicing by spending two days a week to work on conditioning and technique and a third day to learn routines.
Starting on Oct. 8, Coach Kaitlyn Marquette and the dancers began choreography for Manhattan Madness which is the biggest event of the semester for the team. The team performed at the pep rally on Nov. 1 and continued their performances at men’s and women’s basketball games for the entire month of November.
Looking ahead to the spring, the team will be practicing five-to-six days a week. The extra practice will help them as they continue to perform at basketball home games, but it is also in preparation for their biggest event of the year: The National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championship. This competition will be held in Daytona, FL during the first week of April.
The women had a schedule that included six regattas that took place from Oct. 13 to Nov. 11. The team has continued to grow and improve since becoming a DI program three years ago. They ended their season on a high note at the Bill Braxton regatta as Jasper boats took first in the Women’s Collegiate Freshman Novice 4+, second in both flights of the Women’s Collegiate 4+, first, second in the Women’s Collegiate Varsity 8+ and all four positions in the Women’s Collegiate 2-.
The men’s club rowing team participated in the Head of the Schuylkill and Bill Braxton Memorial regattas this fall. The club team continues to grow and take steps in the right direction since Head Coach Karla Ward and her husband Michael Ward returned to Riverdale last fall to revitalize the program. They’re aiming to row in four indoor and four outdoor regattas in the spring. They also intend to return to Florida on spring break for training like they did last year.
History was made for the men’s team as they had a program-best 12 wins on the season. Despite their 12-6 record, the team’s 5-5 conference record caused them to just miss out on the MAAC Tournament.
Their biggest win of the year came on Sept. 18 when junior Adrien Awana scored a goal in the 90th minute to beat no. 25 Fordham in the teams’ Battle of the Bronx matchup. It was the first time that Manhattan soccer had ever beaten a nationally-ranked team.
In terms of end-of-season recognition, Awana was named to the All-MAAC First Team while sophomore Berti Fourrier and junior Marcellin Gohier were both named to the All-MAAC Second Team.
The women’s team came off a MAAC Championship appearance from the 2017 season, but struggled to find similar success this year, with injuries being a big obstacle. The team finished 3-8-4 overall and 2-5-3 in MAAC play.
Their biggest win of the year came on Oct. 6 against Niagara. Neither team scored in regulation nor overtime. The teams moved onto double-overtime where sophomore Bri DeLeo converted a penalty kick to win it for the Jaspers.
An impressive 19 out of 23 eligible women on the team were named to the MAAC All-Academic Team for maintaining a 3.20 or higher GPA after two or more semesters at Manhattan.
Swimming and Diving
The men’s team started their season out very strong with six straight wins against their competition. That was followed by three losses at the NJIT Invitational and losses against both Holy Cross and Monmouth. They then finished towards the top of teams that participated in the three-day ECAC Winter Championships.
As a team, the women struggled as they only salvaged one win which came against NJIT Invitational on Oct. 21.
Some individual Jaspers have shined such as freshman Lexington Passamonte and sophomore Andre van Huyssteen. Passamonte broke both the school record for the three-meter and one-meter dives. Van Huyssteen has won many races including a 50-meter freestyle race, a 100-meter freestyle race, two 100-meter fly races, a 100-meter butterfly race and three 200 freestyle races.
The teams have four more meets during their season before taking on the MAAC Championships starting on Feb. 13.
Overall the volleyball team experienced a tough season which resulted in a 5-27 record and an elimination in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. Despite the record, there were some positives along the way.
The five wins were actually an improvement from a year prior when they went 2-29. Also after starting the season 0-18, the team had a stretch from Oct. 7 to Oct. 13 where they won three in a row.
Some individuals also stood out for the Jaspers. Senior Alyssa Rehrer finished the season with 354 digs. Her 1,402 career digs places her sixth in Manhattan College history. Freshman Vivian Donovan emerged as a reliable force on the court for the Jaspers and was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team.
Eight Jaspers were also recognized for their dedication in the classroom as they were named to the All-MAAC Academic Team.