While we all may be anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring and warmer weather that will allow us to get into the garden, athletes have already made the transition. The Mineola High School spring sports teams have taken advantage of the dry, albeit chilly, weather to get their practice time in for the soon-to-arrive season.
First-year varsity softball coach Gerard Armengau has been able to familiarize himself with his players. Armengau, a 1985 Division High School graduate, is joined by a completely new coaching staff. The varsity assistant is Vincent Maffatore, while 2001 Mineola High School graduate Kerrin Hughes has come home after earning her degree at SUNY Geneseo to take over the junior varsity team.
Without really much time to evaluate his team's talent level, coach Armengau said his expectations are "to have a successful season with a respectable winning percentage. We also want to develop the fundamental skills of the game with each position player."
Returning Mustangs include:
Roseanne Mercurio: Great pitcher, very athletic and fast.
Kelly Munson: Hard worker, great leadership skills.
Regina LaCourte: Good concept of the game, good defensive skills.
Nicole Reardon: Best all-around player.
Cassie Olivos: Smart, makes tough plays.
Danielle Rivera: Strong power hitter.
Coach Armengau lists Mercurio (P-OF), Reardon (C-SS), Munson (OF), Olivos (2B) along with Erika Privat (2B, OF), Monique Torres (Mid. Inf.) Jill Shanahan (OF) and Maureen Metzner (SS-OF) as the players to watch on this year's team. Torres is just a freshman while Privat (Jr.), Winnie Ouyung (Jr.) and Shanahan (Sr.) are coach Armengau's hot newcomers.
"I'm sure we will put a respectable team on the playing field once the season starts," said coach Armengau, noting that Mineola will encounter a tough schedule.
The softball squad opened its season with non-league games at Plainview and Division at March 24 and 25.
Mineola boys varsity track and field coach Mike Santa Maria's hope springs eternal for the coming outdoor season. "The boys finished seventh in the conference last year. We only graduated one senior so we're looking to track the top three in the conference this season. We would love to challenge for the conference championship," he said.
Coach Santa Maria went on to say, "We have many promising newcomers. Our team finished third in the conference during the winter indoor season and many of our runners from last year have improved their times."
Here's a look at the returning athletes from last year:
Rob Olszewski - Two-time winter conference champion in shot put, a winter 2006 All-County performer.
Dan Sanches - Winter All-Conference in two-mile relay, has a personal best 5:17 in the mile.
John Valente - All-Conference in the 400-meter dash and mile relay last year, long jumps over 18 feet.
Tom Varughese - All-Conference in the 400-meter dash and mile relay last year, personal best 2:15 in the half mile.
Claudio DeMatos - Winter All-Conference in the mile and two-mile relay, personal best 5:02 mile.
Chris Vera - On 800-meter relay at winter County Meet, ready to go sub 5:30 in the mile.
Coach Santa Maria also has some athletes to watch in the coming season. They are:
Sean Boyle - Shot put, discus
Tobin George - High Jump
Kenny Rauert - Shot put, discus, 4X100 relay
Kevin Sing - 200-meters and 400-meters
Kevin Varughese - Middle distance
Tiago Barbosa - Hurdles and high jump
Pedro Cunha - 100-meters and 200-meters
Patrick Martorella - Shot put and discus
Alec Schoenoltz - Middle distance
Others athletes expected to make important contributions include:
Joe Wellbrock - All Conference in cross country as a freshman
Rob Kiss - Should excel in shot put and discus
David Gouveia - Should excel in shot put and discus
Coach Santa Maria evaluated Mineola's conference competition by saying Roosevelt (defending county and conference champ) lost a lot of seniors while Manhasset heads into the spring as the winter conference champion. Valley Stream North also won its conference in the winter and has excellent field events. Coach Santa Maria is really looking forward to next spring.