Rye Neck’s indoor track and field team heads into the final stage of its 2023-24 season looking to put on a strong performance.
The boys’ roster remains stocked with talent despite losing 14 members to graduation last year (after first winning its area league title for a second straight year). Weight throwers Brian Chin and Nathan Shpilberg, sprinter Eli Goldman, and distance runners Micah Taffet and Alexis Favre – all seniors this year – have stepped up to fill leading roles on the squad.
The girls’ squad is smaller but still successful. Returning juniors Phoebe Carmel and Ainara Schube Barriola represented the team at last year’s Nike Indoor Nationals and participated in the state Section 1 League Champs Meet. Both have high hopes for this year’s season-ending competitions as well.
The Panthers changed leagues this winter, placing them in a more competitive environment. Coach Marcella Scalise said she’s been helping her athletes improve physically while fostering a stronger team culture and work ethic.
“We’ve been doing well on this over the last few years, but there’s always more to be done,” said Scalise, who oversees both the boys and girls varsity cross country and both winter and spring track teams with help from co-head coach Susan Soohoo and assistant coach David Golden.
Adding to the team’s overall strength are senior captains Chin, Alexis Favre, Blathnaid Grenouillon, and Lucie Paumier, and junior captains Carmel and Fiona Fox. Also, newcomers Nina Vienne, Abubakar Usman and Matthew Rubin are impact runners to watch for at upcoming Section 1 events. (Both the boys and girls took second place at the recent League 3A Championship Meet.)
This year’s Panthers have already left their mark by breaking some notable school track records. In girls indoor: Vienne, 55-meter dash, 7.81seconds; Carmel, 1000-meter run, 3 minutes, 0.75 seconds; and Vienne, Katie Harvey, Grenouillon, and Paumier, 4×200-meter relay, 1:55.76. In boys indoor: Goldman, 200-meter dash, 23.75 seconds; Chin, weight throw (similar to hammer throw outdoors), 58-3.75; and Rubin, Usman, Goldman and Taffet, sprint medley, 3:47.46.
“This is a group of hard-working and genuinely nice kids,” Scalise said. “They’re supportive of one another and they care [about] more than just their great performances — they’re always putting the team first.”
The goal for this year’s Rye Neck varsity basketball team is to “compete in every game, and win with defense,” said Coach Mike Denman. The team has exceeded expectations with an 11-6 record and a dominant defense that allows fewer than 40 points a game, which gives them the No. 2 defense among public high schools in New York’s Section 1 region.
This season, the Panthers moved up from Class B to Class A among area high schools, which places them among a new and more competitive group that includes Rye, Tappan Zee, and Pearl River.
Despite the departure of a large number of graduating seniors last year, including all-state player R.J. Hutt, the team has been able to fill some of the big holes. Notable performances have come from sophomore center Davey Ryan, who had 21 points against league rival Blind Brook and 17 against Westlake High.
Senior captain Evan Janowitz is one of the team’s top scorers, averaging 11 points a game. Senior Mike Conaway is a critical piece of the defense and has scored in double digits four times this season. Senior Hamza Abdalla is another notable part of the Panthers strong defense, while junior Kyle Harris strings the team together at point guard and has grown more comfortable with each game.
After a league meet, the Rye Neck Panthers Track team paused for a photo.