A look back at varsity action & more

Published in the June 23, 2017 edition

MHS WRESTLING became the first ever State Champions for Melrose when they took the Div. 3 title in February. (file photo)

MHS WRESTLING became the first ever State Champions for Melrose when they took the Div. 3 title in February. (file photo)


MELROSE—As MHS students head off to summer and the ball fields grow empty, it’s time to take a look back at a historic school year for local sports. Melrose High graduates a remarkably athletic class, a group who showed promise sophomore year and grew into athletes who earned the city championships and state titles.

For the first time, the Melrose High wrestling team were crowned State Champs. After amassing an incredible record of 20-1-1 the Red Raiders became Div. 3 State Champions in February when they topped rivals Foxboro and Wayland to earn their first state title. Among those who earned individual state championship titles were senior captain Antonio DiFronzo and freshman Hunter Adrian, who later became All State champ. For his efforts, Coach James Bleiler was named Div. 3 Coach of the Year. Adrian also earned Rookie of the Year rights. Among those earning All Star honors were Collin Casey, Antonio DiFronzo, Hunter Aidrian, Sean Herbert, Stephen MacIntosh, Michael Calvert, Cameron Rosie, Issac Seide, Patrick Whelan and Jacob Fortier.

Senior Kevin Wheelock leaves Melrose High School with four state titles in indoor and outdoor track. Even more remarkable, the harrier earned two state titles in one day on Feb 16 when he captured both the one mile and two mile event at the Div. 3 Indoor Track & Field Finals. During his sophomore year, Wheelock earned the first state championships when he clinched the two mile at the Div. 3 finals. As a finale this season, Wheelock swept the competition during his outdoor season and earned a state title in the two mile.

Melrose High’s boys cross country team proved one of the best to ever run for Melrose. Coach Kevin Allison’s team wrapped up three very solid years as a unit when they became state silver medalists last fall. Over the course of a few seasons, the team earned 21 straight wins, took part in Nationals and saw senior captain Adam Cook become a state silver medalist and All State bronze medalist this year.

Melrose football once again powered past their competition. Senior captain Mike Pedrini wrapped up a remarkable high school career in the process. The two time league MVP and two year All Scholastic leaves Melrose High with 3,500 rushing yards and 61 career touchdowns, including 28 touchdowns his senior year (5 in one game) He was a major factor in Melrose’s back-to-back appearances at Gillette Stadium. But it wasn’t all Pedrini. Coach Morris’ Red Raiders also named all stars in Collin Casey and Antonio DiFronzo and Morris was named the MIAA Coach of the Year. The Red Raiders finished their winning season a satisfying note: a 28-8 Thanksgiving thumping of Wakefield.

LEAGUE CHAMPS once again. The Melrose volleyball team continued their mastery of the Middlesex League this year but ran into a wall against Winchester in playoffs. (file photo)

LEAGUE CHAMPS once again. The Melrose volleyball team continued their mastery of the Middlesex League this year but ran into a wall against Winchester in playoffs. (file photo)

The Melrose boys soccer made history. Dean Serino’s Red Raiders became the first MHS team to take the Middlesex League with a 11-6-1 record. The team qualified for playoffs and named Joseph Connolly, Nicholas Cordeau, Sava Vlajkovic and Peter Wiesen as all stars. The girls soccer team sported big numbers, a young and speedy team who found victory in part behind efforts from Ann Morrison, who was selected to represent Melrose at the Agganis All Star Classic. The field hockey team, recipient of the MIAA sportsmanship award in 2016, remained competitive and saw Yvonne Ngassa earn an all star nod. The Melrose girls cross country team had another winning season, capped off with an appearance at the EMass finals; next year the young team will return their top runners, including Tara O’Shea.

The Melrose High girls volleyball team’s domination in the Middlesex League continued. Led by league MVP Victoria Crovo, the Lady Raiders (15-1 in the ML)  had some notable upsets over the season, including victories over state champ Frontier and old rival Arlington Catholic. Head coach Scott Celli won his 400th victory, 333 of them at Melrose High.

Both Melrose High swim teams broke records. The girls team continued their upward trajectory into a very competitive program and this season broke records in the 200 free and 200 medley relays behind efforts from Sam D’Allesando, Virginia Guanci, Maddy Hughes and Molly Williams. Guanci also broke the school record in the 100 breast while D’Allesandro became a state bronze medalist. All return next year so expect a lot more hardware from this group. The boy’s team also made waves, and senior captain Joe Connolly became league champ in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly, and qualified to appear in sectionals and states. The golf team had a competitive season, stunning Winchester with a tie during midseason, and later saw Zac Farrell named All Star.

The boys and girls indoor outdoor track teams sported big numbers and the boys saw All Star efforts from Nick Chan, Sean Conlan and Adam Cook. Melrose’s Kevin Wheelock earned MVP honors and secured two state titles in the one mile and two mile. Another major highlight was Adam Cook’s state silver medal in the two mile and the team’s distance medley relay team breaking of the school record. The girls team saw Anne Morrison, Mykayla Olwert and Lauren Pedrini rise to the top and earn all league honors. And Morrison sweetened the deal by becoming a two time league MVP for her long jump efforts.

It was another winning season by long time gymnastic coach Denise Valdez, whose MHS team beat rival Winchester and added some exciting, high scoring freshmen who will keep Melrose competitive in future years.

It was another solid, state-qualifying season for both basketball teams. The boys were led by league MVP T’Mahri Mercer, recently named to the 2017 Agganis game, and saw another post season run, this time against a top rated New Mission. The girls’ team qualified for playoffs two years in a row and lost a close one to Triton in the first round, 53-50. While they lose Leonora Ivers, Cat Torpey and Caroline Nolan, they return with high scorers Alexis Doherty and Lily Cunningham, and a handful of promising young players. The hockey teams did not qualify for post season but did see All Star turns by Matt Bowers, Jill Mercer and Rachael DiFraia.

This spring, five teams qualified for post season, including both lacrosse teams, boys tennis and the baseball and softball teams. The Red Raider boy’s tennis team earned their third straight Middlesex League title thanks in part to a talented collection of seniors Joe Connolly, Isaac Bedsole, Frankie DeMayo, Jack Mays, Sean Donovan, Sam Stallings, Liam Singleman and Sean Prendergast and experienced players like Jason Jang and Caleb Zimmerman. The ML Champs advanced in playoffs with a win over Arlington and wrapped up another successful season with a loss to an always-tough Winchester. The girls tennis team earned a victory over Stoneham this season, had fun and remain a team that draws in very big numbers for the school.

One of the biggest highlights of the spring was an exciting playoff march by the Melrose baseball team who put on a 8 game winning streak to clinch a playoff spot. In first round, Bill Hirschfeld’s Raiders knocked off higher-ranked Reading in opening round, thanks from a season’s worth of impeccable starting pitching from John Casperiello and Matt Muscarella.

Girls softball advanced to playoffs after some key wins over Burlington and Belmont. Melrose saw solid pitching all season from Jill Stone and Josephine Andruszkiewicz, and big bats at the plate from players like Victoria Crovo and Sam Farrell. A reflection of their successful season was All Star honors on their three seniors: Victoria Crovo, Rachel Pfieffer and Josephine Andruszkiewicz.

Both outdoor track teams returned familiar faces from the indoor season but also some new faces who earned all league honors, including  Brooke Barriss, Jenna DelMastro, Kathleen Donovan, Anne Morrison, Chelsea Otaluka, Emily Otaluka, Lucia Seide and Anne Morrison. Melrose’s girls team sported a winning 3-2 record under new coach Shannon Kane. The boys team named six all stars: Steven Abbott, Nick Chan, Adam Cook, Isaac Siede, Liam Rittenburg and Kevin Wheelock. The 4×800 relay team of Kevin Wheelock, Adam Cook, Sean Conlan and Griffin Barriss broke a school record and qualified for Nationals. The four took bronze at states while Wheelock won the state in the mile and Adam Cook took silver.

Both MHS lacrosse teams qualified for tournament this season. The girls team continued their recent success with a post season fueled by youthful talent and their named All Stars Julia Symonds, Lily Cunningham and Shannon Jones. Expect Cate Arkins team to return with a lot of offensive weapons next season.

The boys lacrosse team had a gripping end to another strong season. The team advanced to second round in playoffs with a 12-8 record in a season that saw upsets over Winchester and Burlington. The real highlight were two down-to-the-wire thrillers against heated rival Wakefield, who was on path to a Div. 2 North title. Melrose lost by one run in both games, including their quarterfinal playoff loss on June 6. While they lose two top talents in Mike Pedrini and Corbin White, Melrose returns their entire defense, a high rated goalie in Matt Rocha, and young, all star attackers. Earning all league honors were Mike Calvert, Mike Pedrini, Cam Rosie, Matt Rocha and Jack Wells. Look for Red Raider lacrosse to be the real deal in 2018.

Varsity stats by the numbers (courtesy of Melrose High athletics):

5 Individual state champs

1 team state champ

5 league champions

5 league MVPs

191 total team wins

82 league all stars

10 state qualifying teams

And in other Melrose sports: 

Melrose’s Frantzdy Pierrot  signed with Haitian National Soccer team after a standout college career at Northeastern and Coastal Carolina.

The Melrose Middle School hockey team (7th-8th) took the Valley Middle School North Championship.

The YMCA Shark 8-under team became New England Champs.

Melrose’s Justin Connolly helped lead Brooks Academy to a perfect season in hoop.

Melrose’s Connor Smith of Malden Catholic helped lead the Lancers to a TD Garden appearance in state finals.

MHS alum Annalisa DeBari earned All American status in the 60 meter hurdles for the Tufts University track team.

Tyler Story and Jonah Crain of Melrose helped the Mystic Valley Eagle baseball team clinch their first Commonwealth Athletic Conference division title.

Melrose’s 7th grade travel hoop team took the North Shore Basketball Association Championship.

MHS alum Christian Gentile earned All East Regional honors for his work on the Merrimack College cross country team.

MHS alum Haley Mate’ and Hayley Rodriguez helped Westfield State lacrosse win their first league championship & entry into Div. 3 NCAA Tournament play.

Got more local sports not seen here? Share it with Melrose Weekly Sports at jengentile@rcn.com.