SPONSORED BY: SportsGrub
By BOB YORK
Gatorade has been quenching the thirst of millions of student-athletes ever since it was developed in 1965. Then, in 1985, the beverage went bottoms up again: to toast their brain, brawn and character as well.
For the past 35 years, Gatorade has been handing out its State High School Player of the Year awards and when it comes to this six-state region, New England Prep School Athletic Council standouts have consistently partaken in the revelry. The 2019-2020 rendition of this annual shout out proved no different, as 17 NEPSAC student-athletes were on hand, hailing from 15 schools and representing 10 sports.
Of those 15 schools, two – Phillips Academy Andover and St. Paul’s School – paced the balloting with two players each. Dallion Johnson (Boys Basketball) and Alex Fleury (Boys Track and Field) competed for Andover, while Malcolm Bussey (Football) and Jordan Geronimo (Boys Basketball) represented St. Paul’s.
As for a breakdown of sports, boys and girls basketball topped the listings with three award winners each, while football, girls cross-country and boys soccer registered two each. Geographically, seven award winners claimed Massachusetts as home turf, while Connecticut and Rhode Island had five and three respectively, while New Hampshire posted two.
In addition to Johnson and Fleury of Andover, Massachusetts boasted territorial rights to Kalel Mullings of Milton Academy (Football) and Noble & Greenough School’s Caroline Ducharme (Girls Basketball). Other Mass. ballot busters included Northfield Mount Hermon School’s Khamari Hadaway (Boys Soccer), Cat Barry of Tabor Academy (Girls Soccer) and Josh Baez of Dexter Southfield School (baseball).
Connecticut’s Fab Five consisted of Sydney Masciarelli of Marianapolis Prep (Girls Cross Country), Allie Palmieri of Green Farms Academy (Girls Basketball), Suffield Academy’s Micawber Etienne (Boys Basketball), Paula Hernandez of Woodstock Academy (Volleyball) and Taft School’s Sammed Bawa (Boys Soccer).
Margot Appleton of Portsmouth Abbey (Girls Cross Country), Megan Bodziony of St. Andrew’s School (Girls Basketball) and Sophia Gorriaran of Moses Brown School (Girls Track and Field) were Rhode Island’s three representatives.
Andover’s dynamic duo of Johnson and Fleury were invited to the medals podium as they – like their cohorts from throughout the region – exhibited the traits that the Gatorade selection committee is looking for. On the court, Johnson, a 6-2, 175-pound guard, sparked the Big Blue to the NEPSAC Class A Tournament semifinals this past winter as he averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during his senior campaign. He ended his prep career with 1,600 points and was a three-time NEPSAC All-Star.
“Dallion is a tough competitor who gets better every year,” said St. Paul’s coach Max Gordon. “He’s a high-level shot maker from outside the three-point line, but he can also score in the paint. He is also a composed leader with the ball … he’s never selfish … never in a hurry … just poised and ready to do what his team needs to win.”
Away from the court, Johnson maintained a B average in the classroom and is an NAACP Youth Member. He has volunteered locally as part of multiple fundraising campaigns to benefit cancer research and has donated his time as a youth mentor and basketball coach.
Johnson has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball on scholarship at Penn State University in the fall.
Fleury, meanwhile, took the 2020 winter track season by storm, highlighting the campaign by setting a state indoor record in the mile during the Boston University Last Chance Meet in February when he was clocked in 4:05.57. That time not only won the race but also proved to be the second best clocking among prep competitors throughout the nation.
During the winter season, Fleury chalked up a No. 1 ranking in the 1,000-meter run, a No. 5 spot in the 1,500-meter run and a No. 7 rating in the 3,000-meter run on the national stage. He also won the 2020 USA Track & Field’s New England Championship and was a two-time Lawrence Eagle Tribune Indoor Track & Field MVP as well as the Merrimack Valley Conference MVP. He was also a New Balance Indoor All-American in the mile and the 800-meter run.
“Alex’s work on the track has been incredible,” said Grant Gonzalez, an assistant track coach at Northfield Mount Hermon School. “Last year’s double win in the 800- and 1,500-meter races at our NEPSTA Championship Meet was quite the show.”
Fleury graduated from Andover this spring with an A average in the classroom and was named a Boston Globe Foundation/Richard J. Phelps Scholar-Athlete. A peer mentor at Andover and a volunteer at local homeless shelters and food banks, Fleury will attend Harvard University and will compete for the Crimson on its track team.
Kalel Mullings was voted the premier football player in Massachusetts after leading Milton Academy to an 8-1 record and a berth in NEPSAC’s Mike Silipo Bowl. He did so by never coming off the field as he played linebacker on defense and tailback on offense.
Defensively, the 6-2, 230-pound Mullings, who will play linebacker at Michigan, registered 51 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions. Offensively, he rushed for 509 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging an astonishing 7.8 yards per carry. He wasn’t a one-dimensional offensive football player, however. He also caught 33 passes for 358 yards and five scores. In addition, he logged a touchdown on a punt return and was selected to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
“Kalel is a great player … he’s all over the field,” said Jeff Toussaint, the Thayer Academy head football coach. “He’s so fast, strong and physical. He is unbelievably explosive. He is simply a dominant high school player.”
Mullings maintained a B average in the Milton classrooms and also enjoys music. He plays the saxophone and was a member of the school’s a capella group. He volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics and as a middle school flag football coach. He also served as a campus tour guide.
Caroline Ducharme was the big reason why Noble & Greenough captured the NEPSAC AA Girls Basketball Tournament this winter, but it wasn’t just because of her size. The 6-2 guard/forward led the Bulldogs to a 27-3 record because of what she did with that 6-2 frame.
In short, she led Nobles in every meaningful statistic possible, pacing the team in points per game with 24.8, rebounds (14.0), assists (5.2) and blocked shots (3.0). Ducharme, who was an All-New England selection as a freshman but missed her entire sophomore year due to injury, will enter her senior season having chalked up 1,652 points during her career.
“Caroline impacts the game more than any player I have seen in my 12 years of coaching,” said Bill O’Dwyer, the Thayer girls basketball coach. “She is so dynamic on the court. She can play all five positions and is highly effective at all five.”
Ducharme owns a B average in the classroom and volunteers locally as part of fundraising campaigns to benefit the American Cancer Society and also donates her time as a youth basketball coach.
Khamari Hadaway led the Mass. voting when it came to boys soccer and it was easy to see why the Northfield Mount Hermon School goalie was so well thought of. The Hoggers’ defender led his squad to a 15-1-3 record and a berth in the Class A Tournament semifinals after providing 11 shutouts on the season. The senior, who has committed to take his stingy play to Princeton University in the fall, finished his NMH career with 30 shutouts.
The United Soccer Coaches State Player of the Year, Hadaway was a two-time Boston Globe All-Scholastic selection, as well as the New England Soccer Journal Goalkeeper of the Year.
“Khamari is most definitely one of the best keepers we have seen in New England in my time coaching,” said Milton head coach Chris Kane. “His great play helped make NMH a truly elite team defensively and overall.”
Hadaway owned a 3.51 GPA in the classroom and was a member of a coed a cappella singing group at NMH. He also participated in a fundraising campaign to benefit children in Malawi who did not have the resources to play soccer. Locally, he volunteered with Operation Happy Birthday.
Cat Barry of Tabor Academy prevailed as the premier girls soccer player in Massachusetts – for the second straight year.
Her back-to-back awards highlighted a career in which she registered 132 points on 88 goals and 44 assists. During her senior season alone, she chalked up 39 of those points via 27 goals and 12 assists as she helped lift the Seawolves to an 11-5 record. She was a two-time New England Soccer Journal Forward of the Year, played in December’s High School All-American Game and the University of South Carolina bound Barry was listed as the nation’s No. 17 recruit in the 2020 class.
“Cat can dominate a field whenever she wants,” said Susanna Donahue, the head coach at the Rivers School. “Her size, strength and speed made her an incredibly effective player at whatever position Tabor put her at.”
Barry maintained an A- average in the classroom. She served as head tour guide at Tabor and volunteered locally as a peer tutor. She also donated her time teaching English to recent immigrants and as a youth soccer coach.
Josh Baez flexed his muscles early and often on the baseball diamond as the Dexter Southfield School junior was named the MVP of the WWBA Upperclass Southeast Labor Day Perfect Game Tournament in September and not even the Coronavirus could make voters forget his heroics.
During the tourney, Baez clouted a pair of home runs during its three games and reached base every time he stepped to the plate. The transfer came from the Snowden International School where he spent his sophomore season posting a .423 batting average with 25 runs scored and 18 RBI. He went on that season to earn MVP honors in the Boston City League championship game as he led the Cougars to the league title.
“Josh is a true five-tool player, said Danny Donato, the Dexter coach “He hits for a high average and his power is off the charts.”
Baez owned a B- average last year and has made a verbal commitment to play baseball at Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2021. He volunteered locally helping to build a weight room at his previous school and has donated his time as a youth baseball coach and umpire.
Malcolm Bussey and Jordan Geronimo of St. Paul’s School proved to be New Hampshire’s only award winners, but they proved to be pretty dynamic winners. Bussey helped lead St. Paul’s to a 9-0 record and a victory in the Dave Coeatti Bowl last fall as the 5-11 tailback rambled for 1,436 yards and 22 touchdowns on 123 carries to average a hefty 11.7 yards per carry. A two-time All-New England selection, Bussey averaged over 10 yards per carry in eight of nine games and scored multiple touchdowns seven times.
“Malcolm is the best running back we have played against in the nine years of me being here,” said Joe Linta, the head coach of Hamden Hall School. “He is a high school version of (2019 NFL MVP candidate) Christian McCaffrey.”
Bussey, who will be a senior this fall, maintains a B average in his studies. He also plays hockey for the Pelicans and volunteers locally with a Learn to Skate program and on behalf of a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a program to raise awareness of violence against women.
Geronimo, a 6-6, 205-pound forward poured in 18.0 points per game as well as nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots every time he put on a Pelicans uniform last winter. The University of Indiana bound standout is a two-time Lakes Region League All-Star and a 2020 All-New England Class A All-Star. He was rated as the number 90 recruit in the 2020 Class by 247Sports.com
“Jordan is ultra-athletic,” said Gregor Makechnie, head coach of Proctor Academy. “He’s a very good shot blocker and a solid defender. He finishes well around the rim and he seems like a very good teammate … he’s positive and encouraging.”
He maintained a 3.98 GPA his senior year and was the head of the St. Paul’s Student Cultural Alliance, which provides a space for the school’s minority population to feel comfortable.
Sydney Masciarelli’s name was placed at the forefront of Connecticut’s cross-country contingent for a second straight year because that’s where she always ended up after the starter’s gun had sounded.
This Marianapolis Prep three-sport standout went back-to-back after capturing her second straight New England Division IV championship in a time of 18:49. The junior highlighted her regular-season effort by winning the Canterbury Invitational for a second straight year as well as her own Marianapolis Prep Invitational. She placed second in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championship and was seventh in the National Foot Locker Race in a time of 17:19.4.
Masciarelli, who also won the Gatorade award in girls track last year by sweeping the 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races at the N.E. track championships for a second straight year, won last year’s regional Foot Locker race in a time of 17.12.6 and then won the national competition in 17:00.3 – the 10th fastest time by a girl in the 35 years the meet has been held in San Diego – by a mere .7 seconds.
“Sydney continues to be an impressively focused and dedicated runner,” said Emil Gaudet, Masciarelli’s cross-country coach. “She trained like an athlete much more seasoned than she is, and after the regular season ended, she continued to do runs and workouts by herself on an ice and snow-covered track without complaint.”
Masciarelli, who owns a 3.57 GPA as she enters her senior year, is also a standout on the basketball court and when not competing in athletics, she volunteers locally on behalf of a food pantry, youth basketball camps and the U.S. Marine Corp Toys for Tots Foundation.
Micawber Etienne, a 6-10 a junior center at Suffield Academy was the guy leading the fast break to the ballot box under the category of Conn. boys basketball this season as he tossed in an average of 15 points a game and hauled in an average of 13 rebounds per game. Etienne, who also averaged four blocked shots and two assists per outing, earned All-NEPSAC laurels and heads into his senior season ranked as the country’s No. 59 recruit and the No. 11 center in the Class of 2021 by 247 Sports.
“Mac is a really, really talented player,” said Shavar Bernier, the head coach at Taft School. “A high-major kid who looks and plays the part and he’s really grown in terms of his skill set over the last couple of years.”
Etienne maintains a B average at Suffield and donates his time as a peer tutor and also volunteers at youth basketball clinics.
Allie Palmieri, a junior forward/guard at Greens Farms Academy in Westport was voted Connecticut’s top female basketball player after leading her squad to a 22-3 record. The 5-10 junior did that by averaging 24.2 points per game, as well as 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.9 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. She was a CHSCA All-State selection and was voted MVP of the Kingswood Oxford Tournament.
“When you watch Allie play, what’s most impressive is how composed she is on every possession and how she knows exactly when to take over or when to pass,” said Kwame Burwell, an assistant coach at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield. “In my view, I would rank her as the best player in the state right now.”
Palmieri has a 3.99 GPA heading into her senior year and will attend Boston College next year on scholarship to play basketball. She volunteers locally as a math tutor at Bridgeport’s Classical Studies Magnet Academy and also donates her time on behalf of the Nichols Improvement Association’s Jingle Bell Run and as a coach with the InSports Skills Basketball Clinic.
Sammed Bawa was the Nutmeg State’s top vote getter in boys soccer after the crafty midfielder registered 26 points off 21 goals and five assists while leading Taft School to a 16-2-1 record and a berth in the NEPSAC Class A Tournament semifinals. Bawa, who closed out his career at Taft by clearing the century mark with 107 points on 72 goals and 35 assists, was named the New England Prep Soccer Journal Midfielder of the Year and participated in the High School All-American Game in December.
“Bawa is just an absurdly talented player,” said Charlie Bour, the head soccer coach at Berkshire School. “He is so athletic and so dominant.”
The University of North Carolina bound standout maintained a B+ average in the classroom and the graduate of the Right To Dream Academy in Ghana, organized a soccer tournament in his neighborhood in Ghana that raised more than $6,000 for the needy. Locally, Bawa volunteered as a youth cocker coach.
Paula Hernandez led the voting in volleyball, as the Woodstock Academy senior helped lead her team to a 19-6 record and all the way to the Class L semifinals. The outside hitter did so by chalking up 500 kills, 622 digs and 66 service aces on the season. For her lofty accomplishments, Hernandez was named First Team All-State for the third consecutive season, First Team All-Eastern Connecticut Conference and was selected the GameTimeCT Player of the Year.
“Paula Hernandez is an outstanding player,” said Steve Banks, the head coach at Fitch High School. “She has the complete package of volleyball skills and she’s a tough competitor. She reads the court better than any high school player that I’ve seen.”
Hernandez, who maintained an A average, has yet to make a decision as to where she will be taking her talents to on the collegiate level. Locally, she volunteered on behalf of a community cleanup initiative and youth volleyball programs.
Margo Appleton led the pack in voting for Rhode Island’s top female cross-country runner because she led the pack at the New England Prep School Track Association Div. III Championships for a second straight year. This fall, the junior speedster was clocked in a time of 16:36, hitting the tape 2:48 ahead of the second-place finisher, as she sparked Portsmouth Abbey to a 10th-place finish team finish.
Appleton would later go on to place sixth at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championships, then finished 22nd at the National Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
Margot is the strongest runner I’ve ever seen in the Eastern Independent League,” said Moriah Musto, the head coach at the Winsor School.
Appleton will enter her senior year at the Abbey with an A average. She also volunteers locally on behalf of multiple community service initiatives through her church.
Megan Bodziony, a senior at St. Andrew’s School, led this little state in a big way as the 5-10 guard sparked the Saints to a 19-9 record and a run to the NEPSAC AA Tournament. She earned the attention by averaging 11.1 points per game as well as 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals.
Bodziony earned NEPSAC Class A All-New England honors as a junior after missing her entire sophomore season with a knee injury. Despite the lost time, she still has registered 1,361 points prior to heading into this winter’s postseason play.
“Megan is an excellent playmaker and shot maker,” said Alex Gallagher, the head girls basketball coach at Noble & Greenough. “She can both distribute the ball and score at a high level, and is a very hard-nosed defender who has no back-down at all.”
Bodziony, who has a scholarship to play basketball at Fordham University in the fall, posted an unweighted 4.09 GPA in the classroom. She also served as a student ambassador at St. Andrew’s and also volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach.
Sophia Gorriaran of the Moses Brown School, got her career off to a fast start, as the freshman track standout set Rhode Island records in the 500- and 800-meter runs during the 2020 indoor season. Gorriaran was the state’s top-ranked runner this winter in the 200-, 300-, 500-, 600-, 800-, 1,000-and 1,500-meter races and owned Top 50 national rankings at every distance from the 500 to the mile.
While running for her Providence Cobras club team this spring, Gorriaran shattered the state record in the 800 by more than five seconds with a time of 2:03.36, which ranked as the nation’s 32nd fastest time in history among prep competitors. Her 2:03.98 in the 800 at the Boston University Last Chance Meet in February set a national freshman record.
“Sophia is dedicated … she works hard at virtually every workout,” said Jon Barnes, an assistant coach at Barrington High School. “She is an intelligent racer and knows what she can do and when to do it. And she is competitive. She is never shy about going against the best or shooting for a time goal.”
Heading into her sophomore year this fall, Gorriaran owns a 3.79 GPA and volunteers locally at an urban elementary school as a youth track coach.
The NEPSAC SPECIAL NEWS is sponsored by SportsGrub. SportsGrub provides athletic teams with nutritional meals delivered directly to their event. We provide a diverse menu that athletes can order from directly in our app. Don't just play to win, plan to win with healthy and delicious meals from SportsGrub. Contact us for more information at www.sportsgrub.com