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Congratulations to Class of 2019 graduate Gianna Bencivengo, who was named an All-State Softball player!
We hope everyone is having an exciting Summer filled with Family, Friends and Adventure!
Students should be engaged in some form of physical activity daily, as well as eating right and reading!
As a reminder:
V&JV Sports (grades 9-12) begin August 19.
Registration for fall Programs will be done on FamilyID.
Registration Opens July 22 and CLOSES AUG. 12.
Middle School Sports Begin Sept. 9.
Registration Opens Aug. 12 and CLOSES AUG. 30.
Have a Great Summer and Train Like A Champion!
VHS Junior Wins Hammer Throw, VMS Athlete Competes at Track Nationals
Following an exceptional sports season filled with improvement, new records and awards, track and field star Noah Belmnahia won his division at the National Championships.
Noah competed at the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals on June 14 at the Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina. He competed in the “Emerging Elite” division for men’s hammer throw and set a personal record of 185 feet and 4 inches with his winning throw.
This showing earned Noah many new accolades. He is the first Valhalla athlete to win any division at Nationals. He is also now in the Top 10 of Section 1 hammer throwers all-time.
“He’s self-motivated and self-driven,” said coach Sonya Greaves. “He’s the first kid at the track and the last kid to leave. He’s always practicing – practice, practice, practice – until he gets it perfect. You can’t think of a more deserving kid to win this.”
Noah’s 185’4” throw was a full foot farther than the second- and third-place finishers, and over 11 feet farther than the fourth-place finisher. His goal for his senior year of high school is to throw over 200 feet.
Not only is Noah a spectacular athlete, but he has taken his coach’s advice to be a good sportsman. “He has really gone out of his way to help kids from other schools,” said Ms. Greaves. “He has friends in other schools and they all help each other. He is very highly respected by coaches at other schools in this region.”
A New, Young Star Steps into the Limelight
Valhalla Middle School eighth-grader Juliette Sullivan also competed at the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals alongside Noah. She contended in the 200-meter and 400-meter races.
Juliette’s outing makes her the first Valhalla eighth-grader to ever qualify for Nationals, and the first Viking student-athlete of any grade to ever qualify for Nationals in two events. She ran the 200-meter race in 26.9 seconds and the 400-meter race in 62.2 seconds – both results are about two seconds shy of Valhalla’s best.
“Now she has four more years left to compete,” said Ms. Greaves. “She’s a great kid, she works hard and has a great attitude. For an eighth-grader, this was a really excellent experience.”
Juliette joined Valhalla’s varsity track and field team a few weeks into the season after coaches noticed her potential on the modified team. She is now the fastest athlete on the varsity team and had an impressive, challenging and fruitful first year running with her high school teammates.
Three VHS Senior-Athletes Commit to Colleges
It’s official! Valhalla High School athletes Gianna Bencivengo, Shannon Brosnan and Joe Pecora signed their commitment papers to play college sports.
On June 12, the athletics department held a special ceremony for the three students in the Valhalla Middle/High School auditorium. The college-bound student-athletes were joined by their coaches and families.
The students are:
Gianna Bencivengo – Dean College (Mass.) – Softball
Shannon Brosnan – SUNY New Paltz (N.Y.) – Lacrosse
Joe Pecora – Sacred Heart University (Conn.) – Football
VHS Athletes Receive All-Section Honors
To cap off a victorious spring sports season, 13 student-athletes were recognized with All-Section honors.
At the June 11 Board of Education meeting, Athletic Director Jamie Block awarded the standout athletes with certificates and expressed how dedicated they were to their sports and their teammates throughout the season.
“I appreciate the students and all that they’ve done,” he said. “This is all about being a Viking, and we are grateful for the community’s support.”
The All-Section students are:
Robert Carbone (junior)
Patrick Gleason (senior)
Gianna Bencivengo (senior)
Track and Field:
Noah Belmnahia (junior)
Tyler Drummond (freshman)
Madison Marino (freshman)
Mekhi Miller (sophomore)
Ada Nduka (sophomore)
Henry Pennella (senior)
Julianna Pisacana (senior)
Diana Santini (senior)
Michael Rizzuto (senior)
Stefan Thiele-Pissini (senior)
Junior Thrower Noah Belmnahia Medals at State, Nationals, Earns New Record
It brings 11th-grader Noah Belmnahia joy to compete in indoor track and field’s weight throw event. When he spins in circles and throws a 25-pound ball as far as he can, he feels rushes of adrenaline and excitement.
Noah competed in the State and National competitions on March 2 and 8, respectively. He won fifth-place at States (additionally earning seventh-place at the Federation meet) and 12th-place at Nationals.
At the State competition, which took place at Staten Island’s Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex, Noah felt physically prepared and mentally strong. He had worked diligently during the season to continuously improve, had rested well the night before to refuel his body, and expected to perform well.
In the prelims, he threw a new personal record of 58’10” – a 24-foot improvement over his best distance from last year. As he progressed in the competition, he saw many strong opposing throwers, but was “in the zone,” he said, and stayed sharp. Even though he was seeded 15th, he placed fifth overall and took home a medal.
“It was a true honor to receive that medal,” Noah said. “It’s a true privilege. I felt like I deserved it. I worked really hard.”
Following that win, Noah became the first-ever Valhalla athlete to compete at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at Manhattan’s Armory. His 12th-place finish was a satisfying conclusion to his indoor track season.
Throughout that season, Noah racked up several accolades. He was named an All-League, All-County, All-Section and All-State athlete. He was the winner of the League Championships, Section 1 (Class C) Championships and the Westchester County Championships. In addition to being Valhalla’s first indoor track athlete to qualify for Nationals, he was also the first to qualify for the Millrose Games in New York City and to win the aforementioned county title.
Coach Steve Reich said that Noah dedicated himself to the weight throw and was committed to improving. Fellow coach Sonya Greaves agreed, saying that his focus propelled him to success.
“Noah really stepped up his throwing game this year,” she said. “He practices seven days a week and has an incredible work ethic. He got his feet wet in a lot of great competitions this year. This is what he does – he’s a thrower. It’s a lot of hard work and commitment.”
Noah began competing in track and field as a freshman to stay in shape during soccer’s off seasons. He picked up the weight throw at the suggestion of a friend, who recommended it due to his height and frame.
Basketball Star Shelby Sekinski Scores 1,000th Point, Wins “Player of the Week” Honor
After being fouled in the second quarter, Valhalla High School junior Shelby Sekinski stood at the free-throw line and focused. She knew that if she sunk her basket, she would reach a rare milestone.
On Dec. 6, the Vikings played against North Salem High School at the Keio Academy. With her teammates cheering her on, Shelby made her shot and scored the 1,000th point of her varsity basketball career.
“It’s exciting and I was really happy,” said Shelby, who is the captain of her team. “My friends were happy for me, too. I’ve had more faith in myself lately. And when I have more faith in myself, my shots go in. So I stayed focused.”
Following her momentous achievement, The Journal News named her its “Player of the Week.” Battling five other standout basketball players from Westchester and Rockland counties, Shelby won with nearly 44 percent of the vote. In a story focused on her win, the media outlet noted that she scored at least 20 points in each of the Vikings’ three games that week.
The point guard, who wears jersey No. 25, is now part of an exceptional group of only three female Valhalla student-athletes to score over 1,000 points in their varsity careers. “It feels pretty cool to be up there with great people,” she said.
Shelby began playing basketball in third grade at her father’s suggestion. He noted that she had confidence and a “tough” look for an elementary school student and could be a force on the court. While she practiced with teams and dedicated herself to improving, she met many friends along the way and enjoying playing with her peers.
No stranger to playing on Viking teams, Shelby has been a varsity basketball player since 8th grade and played on the modified team in 7th grade. She also played lacrosse in 7th and 8th grade. Aside from sports, she participates in the yearbook club and the Valhalla International Fund.
Varsity Volleyball Team Wins Sectional Title
For the first time in Valhalla history, the high school varsity volleyball team is the Section One champion in Class C.
The team – who soared through an undefeated 19-0 season – played a tough match against Haldane High School, the defending champion. The Vikings won by three sets to one (25-17, 26-28, 25-9, 25-16) at Pace University on Nov. 3.
Viking Swimmer Isabella Fountain Shines at Sectionals
For yet another year, Valhalla swimming phenom Isabella Fountain will compete at States against the best high school swimmers in New York.
Isabella, a junior, will contend at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s 2018 girls swimming and diving championships on Nov. 16 and 17. She qualified in the 50-yard freestyle capturing the section I title, the 100-yard freestyle and 200 IM relay.
Last year, as a sophomore, Isabella swam in four events at the state competition, and won three medals. She placed 6th in the 50-yard freestyle, 6th in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 11th in the 200-yard medley relay.
Boys Varsity Soccer Team Earns Academic Award
For the third time in four years, United Soccer Coaches recognized the Viking boys varsity soccer team of 2017-18 with an educational award for their high grade point averages.
In mid-October, the organization announced that Valhalla was one of 312 high school teams nationwide that earned the prestigious Academic Award. The award is merited if the combined GPA of the team is 3.25 or higher throughout the entire school year. Valhalla’s 21-member team had a collective 3.31 GPA.
“This is about as good of an award as you can win,” said coach Sandro Prosperino, who has coached Valhalla Schools’ soccer programs for 21 years, 13 of which as varsity coach. “This is a true reflection of a student-athlete. They are holding themselves accountable for their grades.”
Of the 312 high school teams selected for United Soccer Coaches’ Academic Award, 107 were boys teams. Valhalla was one of only three boys teams from New York to win.
“They put their studies first,” Mr. Prosperino said. “This is very cool. They help each other. They can lean on each other – academically and for moral support. It’s wonderful that their priorities and friendships extend to the classroom, which is the most important place for them to excel.”
During pre-season, he and assistant coach Marko Loncar make a point of not only discussing the team’s soccer goals, but also its academic goals. They reviewed the importance of cultivating a strong education and performing well in class.
“We’re called ‘coaches’ but we’re teachers,” Mr. Prosperino said. “We teach them about soccer, but also about integrity, respect, discipline and staying together. We’re really happy that they won this award for themselves.”
United Soccer Coaches is the largest soccer coaches’ organization in the world, composed of over 32,000 members that lead at every level of the game – from recreational to collegiate. Its mission is to provide programs and services that enhance, encourage and contribute to the development and recognition of soccer, its coaches and their players.
Field Hockey Goalie Hannah Etlinger Named LoHud’s Player of the Week
Senior Hannah Etlinger, the Viking field hockey goalie, earned LoHud’s “Player of the Week” recognition after performing exceptionally well during an exciting game late last month.
In early October, The Journal News announced that Hannah had beaten seven other standout field hockey athletes from nearby schools for the special honor. The media outlet recognized her spectacular 30 saves during the Vikings’ loss to Albertus Magnus High School.
“I wasn’t really expecting to win ‘Player of the Week,’” Hannah said. “It was kind of crazy. I didn’t know I had so many people voting for me. I’ve never had that many people behind me before.”
In addition to Hannah’s teammates and classmates, several Valhalla alumni saw Hannah’s name on the list and were happy to support their alma mater. Thanks to that support, Hannah narrowly defeated the runner-up from Clarkstown South High School by 35 votes in a tight race.
This fall season is currently Hannah’s second year playing field hockey. She made the switch from lacrosse, which she played in 9th- and 10th-grade on the varsity team.
“I love my team,” she said. “Being the goalie is a good leadership role for me where I can be loud and assertive. Our team works really well together. Some athletes play for themselves, but we play for each other.”
Two Juniors Medal in Grand Cross Country 5K Race
At an invitational 5K race featuring hundreds of runners, two Valhalla High School student-athletes earned medals thanks to their fast times.
Juniors Mary Henry and Gwen Lileika finished in the top 25 of their race during the Six Flags Safari Invitational in New Jersey on Sept. 29. The race featured top runners from high schools in the Hudson Valley and northern New Jersey.
“Both Mary and Gwen are really hard workers and are dedicated to the team,” said coach and teacher Ashley Fetzer, adding that Mary set a personal record during the race. “We’re happy that they performed so well.”
The invitational hosted several hundreds of runners, who were divided into groups of approximately 150 athletes. The top 25 finishers in each group earned medals. Mary and Gwen finished with times of 24:22 and 24:16, respectively.
Following the race, the team spent the rest of the day touring the park, enjoying each other’s company and engaging in team-building activities.
Always striving to develop their skills, both girls have improved their 5K times since the Six Flags Safari Invitational. Mary shaved nearly a minute off of her time by setting a personal record of 23:23 at the Brewster Invitational, and Gwen bettered that with a 22:46 finish at the League Meet.