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Aquinas boys lacrosse, Belen tennis win state championships

A round-up of South Florida Catholic high schools’ achievements in spring sports

The Belen Jesuit Prep tennis team won its first state championship in the 3A division.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

The Belen Jesuit Prep tennis team won its first state championship in the 3A division.

MIAMI | St. Thomas Aquinas’ boys lacrosse and Belen Jesuit’s boys tennis teams each won state championships during the spring season.

Aquinas won its second boys lacrosse state championship in school history, repeating its performance from last year.

Belen won its first boys tennis state championship in school history.



Fort Lauderdale Aquinas (22-1) won the boys championship by beating Lake Highland Prep 12-7 in the title match. It was the Raiders’ second consecutive state title after losing to Lake Highland in the state finals in 2014 and 2015.

Michael Costello scored three goals and dished out an assist for the Raiders, who also got three goals from James Harrington and two each from Brock Gonzalez and Kevin Crowley.

“We always say that someone has to step up,” Aquinas coach Terry Crowley said. “Michael, as the season went on, got stronger and stronger. I don’t think people gave him the credit he deserved. Down the stretch, he helped to get us to that position. In championship, he had times where he was able to complete some great shots.”

Costello scored 49 seconds into the game. But after James Stine got the equalizer at 4:24 of the first quarter, Costello ignited a Raiders three-goal run in the final 3:39. Gonzalez and Harrington also scored during the run.

The second quarter brought adversity for the Raiders, who lost starting goalkeeper David Madrill halfway through the second quarter. Ryan Leahy came in and finished with 13 saves, earning match MVP honors.

Crowley said that Madrill was hopping up and down to stay sharp and landed on his ankle wrong.

“We had to make sure we controlled the ball and stopped the ball,” Crowley said. “Ryan Izquierdo did a great job on faceoffs. David did a great job until he got hurt. You’d think that’d be it. Lake Highland smelled blood, and we were nervous. But Ryan Leahy came in and shut down Lake Highland Prep.”

The Highlanders cut the Raiders’ lead to 5-4, but Costello scored off a Guglielmo assist with 57 seconds left in the half for a 6-4 lead, and the Highlanders got no closer.

Crowley, Gonzalez and Nicolas Yovino each had an assist, and C.J. Borodiak also had a goal and an assist for the Raiders.

Aquinas was coming off an undefeated season in 2016. But Crowley reminded them that 2016’s title was 2016’s legacy; this year’s team had to create its own.

The Raiders were fueled by a 2015 state-title loss to Lake Highland Prep. Aquinas had entered that match undefeated. But Crowley said that match proved his team could play with anyone in the country. He also credited his team’s trip to New York, where the Raiders went 1-1, for bolstering his team’s confidence.

The Raiders won District 28, then beat Stoneman Douglas (16-5), Oxbridge (8-0), Gulliver Prep (15-5) and Benjamin (14-11) to reach the final.

“Later on in the playoffs, we shut out Oxbridge,” Crowley said. “I thought Oxbridge might be the best team in the state. We were starting to get very confident.”

Crowley had his own history midseason. He picked up his 400th career victory March 12, beating American Heritage 16-9. He credits St. Thomas Aquinas Athletic Director George Smith for building a winning program in multiple sports.

But he also credits the kids.

“I’m just lucky to coach them,” he said. “It’s all about relationship. 400 times, I went out with a bunch of guys and had a great time. It’s humbling. It’s never about me. It’s about the kids. I thought I’d do this for a year, yet I’m still here.”

Belen Jesuit also made the regional lacrosse tournament, winning District 30 before losing to Gulliver Prep 9-8 in the second round.

Aquinas’ girls lost to Orlando Bishop Moore 13-12 in double overtime in the girls’ state final. Caroline Stefans scored five goals, Gabriela Cash and Carly Steinhauf each had three goals, and Alexandra Beekhuizen added another for the Raiders.

Down 7-3 at halftime, the Raiders traded goals until Steinlauf ignited a six-goal run with a goal at 12:00 of the second half. Cash’s final goal put Aquinas up 12-10 with 3:23 left. Bishop Moore’s Katie Piscopo scored with 1:55 left in regulation and Jeanne Kachris scored with 1:23 left in regulation to force overtime. Abby Spalding scored her third goal of the match with 13.5 seconds left in double-overtime to win it for the Hornets.

It was the Raiders’ first appearance in the state final after previously advancing to the third round in 2013, 2014 and 2016.



In Class 8A, Aquinas lost to Orange Park Oakleaf 10-0 in the state semifinals. The Raiders won Region 4, beating Cooper City.

In Class 9A, Miami Our Lady of Lourdes Academy won District 15, but lost in the first round 14-6 to Coral Reef.

In Class 6A, Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy High took second in District 15, then lost 5-1 to Miami Springs in the first round.

In Class 5A, Miami St. Brendan won the District 15 title, but lost 14-0 to Key West in the first round.

In Class 4A, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna won the District 7 title and advanced to the Region 3 final, losing to Miami Westminster Christian 3-1.



Miami Belen won the 3A boys state championship, beating Niceville 4-2. Belen Jesuit beat Braden River 4-0 and Fort Myers 4-2 to reach the state final.

Against Niceville, Carlos Grande and Daniel Martinez beat Niceville’s Jefferson Hobbs and Jarrett Gray 6-2, 6-4 to split the doubles points. Grande and Martinez also took singles victories. Grande beat Hobbs 6-4, 6-1 in No. 1 singles, while Martinez beat Matthew Bomparola 6-1, 6-2 in No. 2 singles. Sebastian Duenas also won No. 3 singles for the Wolverines, beating Gray 7-5, 6-0.

In Class 4A girls, Aquinas made it to the state’s final eight, but the Raiders lost 4-0 to Boca Raton.



Miami’s Christopher Columbus used two relay victories and a second-place relay to take second overall in the Class 4A boys state track meet in Jacksonville with 50 points. Aquinas was third with 40 points. Miramar won with 70 points.

Christopher Columbus’ 4x800 relay team, which came in second place in the state in track, from left: Nicholas Aixala, Deshay Fernandez, Chris Bentely, and Xzavier Henderson.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

Christopher Columbus’ 4x800 relay team, which came in second place in the state in track, from left: Nicholas Aixala, Deshay Fernandez, Chris Bentely, and Xzavier Henderson.

Columbus’ 4x100 relay team of Trajan Bandy, Christopher Henderson, Joshau Jobe and Tyler Harrell won in 40.97 seconds. The Explorers also took the 4x400 relay, riding the team of Xzavier Henderson, Christopher Henderson, Cameron Daniel and Harrel to victory in 3:15.26. They also took second in the 4x800 relay in 8:05.52. Among Columbus individuals, Deshay Fernandes took second in the 800 in 1:55.04. Harrell took third in the 200 meters in 21.89 and fourth in the 100 in 10.86.

Nicholas Rischar had the Aquinas Raiders’ best individual finish, taking second in the 3,200-meter run in 9:33.74. Dez Dumerrvil Jean took third in the boys shot put with a 51-9.75 mark. Dalin Thomas took fourth in the triple jump with a 47-1 mark, which he cleared in his first jump. Teammate Grayson Crozier also finished fourth in the discus throw with a 151-5 mark. Justin Brown took third in the 300 hurdles in 37.59.

The Raiders took fourth in the 4x400 relay in 3:17.01 and fourth in the 4x800 relay in 8:13.65.

In the Class 3A boys meet, Belen came in 11th with 20 points. Freshman Donald Chaney had half of the Wolverines’ points, winning the boys high jump with a 6-8 mark. He was perfect on his jumps until after he cleared 6-8 on his first jump while Venice’s Kyle Marois missed on three jumps. Chaney tried three jumps at 6-9 3/4. Joshua Collins also scored points for Belen, taking fourth in the 3,200 in 9:32.34 and sixth in the 1,600 in 4:24.34.

Archbishop McCarthy took 13th in the boys Class 2A meet with 17 points; Chaminade-Madonna was 14th with 16 points; Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons tied for 17th with 13 points; Miami Msgr. Pace was 46th with 2 points.

Marcus Mijares led McCarthy’s finishers by winning the boys discus with a 166-9 mark. Teammate Alejandro Plate came in fifth in pole vault with a 14-4.5 mark. Will Shine came in sixth in the 3200 in 9:35.20.

Gibbons’ boys won the 4x100 meters, with Carlos Sandy, Vincent Davis, Christian Wells and Marquis Williams finishing in 41.33 seconds. Gibbons’ James Nutt came in sixth in pole vault with 13-4.5 mark.

Chaminade-Madonna’s Shaun Shivers took second in the boys 100 in 10.78. He also was second in the 200 in 21.57.



Aquinas took second in the girls Class 4A meet with 54.5 points, trailing the 90.5 points of champion Miami Southridge. Aquinas improved from a fourth-place finish, trying to get back to the form that won them three consecutive titles in 2013-15.

Aquinas’ girls 4x100 relay team of Thalia Dyer, Imani Christian, Emelia Chatfield and Zahria Allers won in 47.11 seconds. Freshman Zatoria Thompson won the girls high jump with a 5-foot-7 height. She clinched the title when she cleared 5-5 3/4 meters on her third jump while three others missed on three attempts. She then cleared 5-7 on her third attempt, then tried one jump at 5-8. Thompson also took seventh in the girls 100 in 12.22. Imani Christian took third in the girls 300 hurdles in 43.99 seconds. Kendyl Kerekes tied for third in pole vault with a 10-6 mark.

In the Girls 2A meet, Chaminade-Madonna took 22nd with eight points; Archbishop McCarthy was 29th with five points. Briana Williams led Chaminade-Madonna with a second-best 11.84 time in the 100 meters. For Archbishop McCarthy, Madison Malone had the best girls finish, taking fourth in the girls discus with 125-11 mark.



Cardinal Gibbons advanced to the state boys volleyball semifinals, losing to state finalist Lake Mary 10-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19. Gibbons won District 9 and beat District 10 champ Archbishop McCarthy 25-15, 25-20, 25-18, then beat Boca Raton 16-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-23, 15-10.



Archbishop McCarthy won its seventh state baseball title, beating Tampa Jesuit 5-1 in the 6A state final. Miami Archbishop Carroll advanced to the 3A semifinals

Columbus won District 15-9A but lost in the first round to Miami Palmetto 4-1.

Aquinas lost to Davie Nova 4-3 in the Region 4-8A final. The Raiders won District 14-8A, then beat Coral Gables 4-0 and Delray Beach Atlantic 3-2.

Belen, the District 16-7A runner-up, lost to Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 2-1 in the Region 4-7A final. The Wolverines beat Pembroke Pines 4-1 and Doral Academy 4-1 to reach the final.

Msgr. Pace lost 9-0 to Pompano Beach in the Region 4-5A final. Pace beat Gulliver 11-6 and iMater Charter 8-7 to reach the region final.



Aquinas advanced to the boys state water-polo semifinals, losing to eventual state champion Ransom Everglades 8-7. In the final, Parker Strickman had five goals, while teammates Dane Coniglio and James Burnette also scored goals, including a goal with 2:06 left in the fourth quarter that put the Raiders up 7-6. But Ransom Everglades’ Spencer Williams scored with 36 seconds left to send the match into overtime. Jake Pearson then won it for Ransom Everglades when he scored with 9 seconds left in overtime.

Aquinas won the District 11 title, then beat Boca Raton (16-6) and Orlando Olympia (12-8).

In the girls’ bracket, Cardinal Gibbons advanced to the second round before losing 17-3 to Winter Park. The Chiefs won District 9 and beat Weston Cypress Bay 11-10 in the first round.



Aquinas wrestlers Grant Aronoff and Stephen Moreno earned Academic All-American honors from the National High School Coaches Association. The association recognized 168 athletes from 30 states and 12 different sports.

Moreno, a senior, maintained a 3.5 grade-point average, earning a fourth-place finish his senior year. It was his third time to place at the state meet.

Aronoff, a junior, won his second individual state championship while carrying a 3.7 grade-point average. He reached the state finals three times.

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